I have recently finished reading the Manga of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind and can't recommend it highly enough. However some aspects of it I'm struggling to understand. It is a post-apocalyptic story. The earth became hostile to humanity due to a disaster many hundreds or thousands of years ago. Humans are clearly in decline and extinction is a real and imminent possibility.

Late in the story we learn that steps were taken to preserve the best elements of human civilization. Technology, art and music have been stored away for preservation. It's even revealed that

The giant insects and toxic jungle were constructed for the express purpose of purifying the earth of toxins, so that human civilization can be rebuilt. And it's explicitly intended that the rebuilt civilization will be peaceful.

Yet Nausicaa finds something about this enterprise to be grossly offensive. She says:

I suppose those men left that black thing to be the kernel of the reconstruction... and it never occurred to them that that itself was the ultimate demonstration of contempt for life.

She has reason to be angry, given that some of the preserved technology has been shared and used for nefarious purposes with catastrophic results. A considerable portion of the remaining land capable of supporting human life has been lost and many people have died as a result. Yet from the quote above, and from her arguments with the Master of the Crypt it's clear that she disagrees in principle with what has been done. It's not simply that some powerful technology was misused by bad people. She doesn't think that the project of restoring the world and rebuilding civilization should have been done in the first place.

Why does she believe this shows "contempt for life"?

1 Answer 1


This is an extension to all life, not just human life.

As you have pointed out, the process of purifying the Toxic Jungle helps humanity, so some have attempted to harness this as an attempt to "speed things up". However, they do not understand, nor make any effort to understand that the Ohmu doing the purification are, while dangerous when angered, are ultimately peaceful creatures. Don't anger them, and they will go about purifying the world.

As soon as you "force" the Ohmu to do what you want, the way you want, you start messing with things. When you understand that they are intelligent, and also empathetic creatures; treating them like tools and slaves is disregarding them as creatures worthy of care and respect.

In regards to the Crypt builders, the creators of the Crypt seemed to have a goal in mind that did not account for the ones that would come after - They built the Crypts as a means to restore everything to the way things were, disregarding everything that might come after, and disregarding the Ohmu (as previously mentioned) as what Nausicaa considers to be "life".

This means that they only care about themselves. Anything beyond that is simply a tool to restore what was, and anything beyond what was, is irrelevant.

  • I think this answer does apply to some factions in Nausicaa's world, who attempted to weaponize the Toxic Jungle and the Ohmu, but it seems to not fit the context. Nausicaa seems to be speaking more about the thinking of the people who built the Crypt and their plan to rebuild civilization after the process of purification had finished. In some way Nausicaa thought they showed a deep contempt for life, which I'm still trying to understand.
    – Batperson
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:06
  • Although now that I think about it, your answer could apply to the Crypt-builders too. Because it's revealed that they also created the Ohmu and the Toxic Jungle, they were not the natural result of an evolutionary process.
    – Batperson
    Aug 9, 2021 at 21:08
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    @Batperson in regards to your first comment, it still applies - the creators of the crypt seemed to have a goal in mind that did not account for the ones that would come after - they have plans for destruction of the ways things are now, to rebuild what was, and making life just as a means to an end is not really in line with what Nausicaa sees to be fair treatment
    – Ben
    Aug 9, 2021 at 23:38
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    Damn if you do, damned if you don't I suppose. There'll always be young purists complaining that you're saving the world the wrong way ;)
    – Misha R
    Aug 17, 2021 at 11:28

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