The most obvious word to describe this is "epic", written by Hayao Miyazaki over 12 years and in 7 volumes, its certainly a lot to get though and a huge amount of work for one man to do.
For those that saw Miyazaki's excellent film version, its important to note the film only covers the first two volumes, the manga not only fills in more detail, and things happen differently, but the majority of it covers events after the film anyway. So dont think the films plot is the gist of the comics.
The artwork of the comics is incredible, with the panel designs, the shear sense of movement and breathtaking landscapes all stunning the eyes. The brain then gets stunned when it occurs to you all this is done purely with black and white...shades of grey are an illusion caused by placements of fine dots.
The biggest problem as a western reader I had with the artwork was simply the reading order....readjusting your brain to read from right to left actually takes quite a bit of work. You might think it sounds easy, but comic books have built up quite a complex and subtle set of rules over the years determining what panel the reader should goto next. Having the whole thing flipped confused me, and even at the last volume I was occasionally reading the panels in the wrong order :P
Storywise the tale covers just about everything.
Its set in a Post-Post-Apoclypitic world. One were a disaster happened long ago, and humans have since suvived and even flourished in some areas, but much knowledge of technology is lost. Waring groups compete for land, while the enviroment itself seemingly rages war against them. The spread of a deadly forrest, whos air can kill those not wearing a mask, forms much of the bases of the plot. But theres also various sorts of magic, lost extreamly dangerious technologys, and some very alien, yet terristrial, creatures.
Its clear Miyazaki made this as a "enviromentaly cautionary tale", and this for me is where it falls down a bit, especialy near the end. The problem is, it falls into the trap of thinking nature is something seperate from us, which will behave itself and make everything right if left untouched. (and any touching/messing with nature is automaticaly bad). Its a shame, because at the end it really starts making more sense, but unfortuntely the protagonist has this extremist view which seems out of charecter when she is calm, caring logical, and above all else compremising with everything else.Ã Â
Still, despite this relatively minor flaw, its still a highly enjoyable comic, which ViZ has done a great job translating, with very resonably priced volumes availible on amazon.
, Reviewed By Darkflame
Genre: Fantasy sci-fi
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind created by Hayao Miyazaki, ViZ translation