Just in time for Earth Day, Episode 215 explores Nausicaa

Save the planet, one enormous insect at a time.

This week we take another one of our rare side trips into a mostly non-game-related topic. In this case, the topic is Nausicäa of the Valley of Wind, Hayao Miyazaki's epic manga saga and the condensed version that made its way to film. This topic comes by way of a patron request from Benjamin Swan, and we've done our best to swing the material here back around to reflect on games as much as possible. Which isn't too difficult; Nausicäa didn't have any direct game adaptations worth speaking of, but its influence on the medium (and all Japanese pop media, really) can't be overstated. 

What really struck me most about Nausicäa upon re-reading it in 2019 was how frustrating it is that people like Miyazaki were drafting lengthy parables about human abuse of the environment. Decades later, the results of our collective failure to act on those warnings are truly beginning to be felt around the world in the form of extreme temperatures, coral bleaching, floods and dought, and mass human displacement. It's both depressing and frustrating.

Fittingly, this episode lands on Earth Day 2019. I'd like to say this was cleverly planned in advance, but it's actually a total coincidence. Still, I can't think of a more appropriate topic for the date (outside of maybe a retrospective look at the tacky early ’90s games and cartoons that commoditized environmental awareness and probably did a lot to trivialize the entire concept of saving the environment). 

That said, there are plenty of spoilers for the manga and anime here, so beware. If you've never read or seen Nausicäa, I highly recommend you track down the manga box set and hunt down the Blu-ray; I don't think Disney and Ghibli have made the anime available to stream. The comic is a two-volume, 1100-page, hardcover beast of a set packed with gorgeous artwork and a fascinating story, and you can easily find it for less than $50 online—well worth it.

Retronauts Episode 215: Hayao Miyazaki's Nausicäa
MP3, 46.63 MB | 1:40:43
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Episode description: By patron request, Wes Fenlon and Henry Gilbert join Jeremy Parish and Bob Mackey go a little buggy as they explore the history and influence of Hayao Miyazaki's manga and anime classic Nausicäa of the Valley of Wind.