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In the manga and anime, there are many references to the use of "ceramic" as a material. We know that the vanished industrial civilization which preceded the rise of the toxic jungle used it widely, and it was important enough that this time was known as the Ceramic Era. In the time of Nausicaa many human settlements support themselves by mining it. So it must require a high level of technological sophistication to produce, and also be capable of being reworked.

It is hard enough to be used for armour and bladed weapons:

Nausicaa thrusts her knife at two armoured brutes who cowar away shouting "Don't move, either of you! This knife is carved from Ohmu shell -- move, and it will slice through your ceramic armor like paper."

And light enough for the fuselage of aircraft, as we can infer here:

Two characters stand underneath a plane with a group huddled on the ground in front of them; the one on the left says: "They really did a job on us, but if we taxi into town and do some emergency repairs, she should hold up as far as the valley." Right: "This Ohmu shell armor is so tough! Ceramic plating would have just shattered..."

Although it is brittle, and therefore inferior in resilience to Ohmu shell.

It seems quite unlike the material today used to make bricks, dinner plates and electrical insulators. Do we have any information on the nature of ceramics in Nausicaa's world? Do comparable ceramic materials exist today?

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    "ceramic" is a term that covers materials with a huge range of properties, from superconductors to glasses. Even today some ceramics are used as tank armor, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic_armor – Clara Diaz Sanchez Aug 5 '20 at 9:47
  • There's an entire town taking apart a spaceship that resembles the Space Battleship Yamoto, and the material being mined from it is referred to as "ceramic." It does not seem farfetched that "ceramic" in Nausicaa might refer to iron or steel, which is certainly what it looks like in nearly all instances, with swords and armor being said to be made of "ceramic." This is merely speculation on my part though. – Kyle Oct 30 '20 at 2:24
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Ceramic armour in our world has been used since the Vietnam War up until the modern day, specifically to stop blast fragments and bullets. It's only designed for projectile resistance, though, so probably wouldn't help much against a sword. It's common in use in personal body armour and armoured vehicles - for example, plates of ceramic body armour are inserted into soft armour vests, and panels of the armour are used on aircraft to protect the crew.

If the people in Nausicaa use a similar material in armour and on aircraft it would make sense, but only really to stop projectiles.


Sources:

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    You might want to add that the mined material may be Alumina, which is what modern ballistic plates are made from. – FuzzyBoots Aug 5 '20 at 11:31

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