EDITORIAL: The New Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Manga Box Set Brings Back Memories

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

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North American manga publisher VIZ Media has released a new deluxe box set of Hayao Miyazaki’s classic science-fiction manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. This edition collects all seven previously released volumes into two hardcover volumes, each featuring eight full-color page inserts. The set will come with a double-sided poster and ship in an illustrated slipcase. The suggested retail prices are $60.00 USD and $67.99 CAD; however, it is currently selling on Amazon.com for $34.58 USD and on Amazon.ca for $42.63 CAD.

In addition, Amazon.co.uk is accepting pre-orders for £29.25. According to the product listing, the set will be released in the United Kingdom on December 6, 2012.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, Volume I (hardcover)

On a personal note, I am very excited about this release. I grew up with the anime adaptation of Nausicaä, and I consider it one of the greatest science-fiction tales ever conceived. The manga deserves nothing less than a hardcover release.

But you might be wondering how I could have grown up watching Nausicaä when it only came out seven years ago in North America. I actually grew up on the 1988 Cantonese-dubbed Hong Kong version, entitled 《風之谷》, back in the early 1990s. (Cantonese is the predominant Chinese dialect spoken in Hong Kong.) I was living in Canada by then (eh?), but a strong, growing Hong Kong immigrant population meant there were many Cantonese Laserdisc rental shops with all kinds of anime, most (I’m tempted to say all) of which wouldn’t hit North America in English until years later. Nausicaä was one of the many anime my mother rented for me.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind Hong Kong title

I’m not entirely sure, but I think the Hong Kong dub producers hired several well-known Hong Kong entertainers to play the parts. For example, Priscilla Chan (陳慧嫻), one of my favorite singers (and not to be confused with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg’s wife, also named Priscilla Chan), played Nausicaä. They even produced a cool pop song derived from the Nausicaä opening theme for the end credits. I had never seen an anime with a star-studded cast before, so I thought it was really special.

Below is somebody’s upload of the Cantonese Nausicaä ending song, 《綠水清風》, performed by Sandy Lam (林憶蓮). Conveniently, this video has oversized traditional Chinese characters with jyutping character transcriptions, so you can sort of follow along with the singing. I think the portion used in the end credits begins at around 2:21.49 (min:sec). There’s a heavily degraded VHS copy of the 《綠水清風》 music video floating around, too, if you can stomach heavily degraded VHS video. The video itself has nothing to do with Nausicaä, sadly, but it might give you a tiny glimpse into Hong Kong pop culture in the 1980s.

In the Cantonese version, Nausicaä’s name is 風木蘭, but everybody calls her 小木蘭. Strangely enough, she shares the same given name as the legendary Chinese female warrior Hua Mulan (花木蘭—yes, that Mulan). I can’t decide whether it’s a coincidence or not—probably not. 「小」 means “small” or “little,” so I guess 「小木蘭」 would mean “little Mulan.” But don’t take my word for it—I barely know Chinese anymore.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind—Nausicaä's Chinese name, 風木蘭

It’s hard to recall what I was thinking or feeling when I watched Nausicaä all those years ago. I think I really admired Nausicaä herself, as well as her mentor Yupa. Both were strong, courageous, intelligent, and dignified, and both possessed strong moral centers. I really loved Nausicaä’s deep empathy for animals and the lengths she would go to in order to preserve life. I wouldn’t say they were my role models, but I wonder now whether they had any sort of influence on my development. They really are great characters.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind—Nausicaä and a young ohmu

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind—Yupa, Nausicaä's mentor

There are lots of action-packed science-fiction movies and TV shows, but not nearly enough of more cerebral science fiction like Nausicaä. That’s one of the reasons I love it so much. There was action, but there was a lot of thought, too. I wish more of today’s science-fiction movies and TV shows were like that.

The anime tells a great story, but it’s only the beginning. What I didn’t realize in those pre-Internet days was that Nausicaä started as a manga in 1982 (two years before the anime) that greatly expanded on the story over its twelve-year run. According to the unofficial GhibliWiki, the anime covers only roughly the first two manga volumes. It also says the manga is more complex than the anime and not as black-and-white. I wonder whether my fondness for the anime will spoil my enjoyment of the manga.

Strange. I wrote earlier that I was “very excited” about the new hardcover manga release, but it seems I’ve deflated my own enthusiasm. I must be really worried the not-so-black-and-white nature of the manga will clash with my reverence for the anime.

If you haven’t watched the Nausicaä anime yet, I heartily recommend it. It’s one of the best, most well-written, and most mature anime I have had the pleasure of watching, and also one of the best science-fiction stories I’ve ever seen. I’m saving up for the crazy-expensive Japanese Blu-ray version. The suggested retail price is ¥6,800—that’s about $84.65 USD and $83.72 CAD as of this writing! The reason I want this version is that it has many language tracks in addition to the original Japanese, including English and Cantonese, and it’s region-free. I wonder whether the Cantonese dub in this version is the same one from back then or a new dub. I hope it’s the former—Cantonese anime dubs from the 1980s and the first half of the 1990s were really good.

I’d like to recommend the manga, but since I haven’t read it yet, I can’t. If the anime is any indication, it should be very good, as well.


About Oscar Tong

Oscar joined oprainfall late September 2012 in response to a recruitment drive. He quickly discovered his job was much harder than he had anticipated. Despite the constant challenge, he has come to enjoy his responsibilities.

When he is not scrambling to meet a deadline, Oscar enjoys story-driven games with a strong narrative. He is especially fond of computer adventure games, role-playing games, and visual novels. He hopes the world will one day awaken to the power of video games as a storytelling medium.