This week I’m taking a look at the first volume of Hayao Miyazaki’s first (and thus far, only) manga – which Studio Ghibli’s first film was based on – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.

We’ve previously reviewed the film.

Title: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Vol. 1
Written & Illustrated by Hayao Miyazaki
Translated by David Lewis and Toren Smith
Published by Takuma Shoten (Japan) and Viz Media (US)
Publication Date: Feburary 2004

Available from Amazon.com & RightStuf.com.

The Premise

In the far future, after the world was ravaged in a horribly destructive war, the surface of the planet is being consumed by a toxic jungle, and massive insects are the dominant form of wildlife. Humanity is going extinct.

Among all this is the Nausicaa, daughter of the chieftain of the Valley of the Wind. Soon, this valley will be caught up tin the territorial ambitions of the Kingdom of Torumekia, and nothing will be the same again.

High Points

Miyazaki’s art is gorgeous, with definite influences from the work of the late Jean “Moebius” Gerard – particularly the Arzach series. The attention to visual detail that would become one of Studio Ghibli’s hallmarks is in full effect here.

Low Points

While Miyazaki clearly thought out the ecological structure of the world he was creating, he didn’t think of the world’s technological structure. The level of advanced ceramics (and they do specify that this is the “Ceramics Age”, and much of the technology uses ceramics instead of metalworking) required for some of the tech used in the series would require technology at a level not shown in the series (and particularly a universe where technology is being lost).

Content Notes

This is considerably more bloody than the film. Actually, I’d say that this story features a level of bloody violence that we would not see in any of Miyazaki’s work until Princess Mononoke’s release.

Scores

Originality: Well, the manga came before the film. 5/6.

Artwork: See the high point. 5/6.

Story: The narrative is very well written, with plotting that just makes sense. However, I do have problems with the world-building, as said in the Low Point. 4/6.

Characterization: Each of the characters have some real depth to them, with none actually being evil. 5/6.

Emotional Response: There are points in the story with real emotional impact to them, which I really don’t want to spoil. 4/6.

Flow: 6/6

Overall: This is a really good manga. Honestly, I’m surprised that Miyazaki didn’t do any more manga after finishing this. I’d happily read a Porco Rosso manga or a Castle in the Sky manga. 5/6.

In total, Nausicaa – Volume 1, gets 34/42.