Nausicaä in Lum episode

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Nausicaä in Lum [Urusei Yatsura, Ed.] episode #185

Written by: Jefery Roberts, 19 May 1994

Nausicaä in Unexpected Places

Recently, I've been seeing Nausicaä pop up in unexpected places.

First an "unexpected" place that I already knew about and was searching for...

One of the first things I acquired when I became an anime fan was a tape of the "Urusei Yatsura Karaoke Parade". In the "Rock the Planet" track there is a short clip, of just a few seconds, which shows Tomobiki Cho with plumes of smoke rising from what appear to be factory smokestacks. From this rather thin "miasma" a glider rises and comes toward the camera. Atop this Mehve-like glider is a figure in a light orange flying suit, very like some of the pictures in "The Art of Nausicaä" from the time when her color was orange rather than blue. (There's also an example on the cover of part 2 of Viz's 3rd Nausicaä series.) The figure is lying prone, suspended above the glider in "flying position", and as she comes closer you can see the blue hair streaming out in back. She then pulls off her very "Valley of the Wind" face mask to reveal herself as Lum.

People have told me that this is from a Nausicaä parody episode which features Megane, and ends with a shot of Megane's glasses taking the place of Nausicaä's mask, lying on sand with a small sapling growing nearby.

I recently got the Urusei Yatsura LD50 complete TV episode laser disk collection, so, of course, one of the first things I did with it was to search it for this episode. It's episode #185, first broadcast on 19 June 1985, about a year after Nausicaä's Premier. The title is "Daimajin araware! Ramu no kiken na kaimono", or "The Great Devil Appears! Lum's dangerous purchase". In addition to the two scenes I described, there is a stampede of computer controlled tanks that Ataru fails to stop and is tossed into the midst of, a legend of someone rising in a red field, which is fulfilled by Megane, whose unconsious body is raised above the schoolhouse by the computer tapes from the tanks, and the "Great Devil" himself, a giant robot which Lum purchased from a mail order catalog and assembled herself, and which makes for a rather useless God Warrior. There are doubtless many other allusions to Nausicaä that I missed on one viewing with my rather limited understanding of Japanese.

The second unexpected place was in the film section of Kodansha's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Japan. In 1989, the film critcism magazine, Cinema Jump, celebrated its 1000th issue by asking 86 film enthusiasts, including writers, artists, entertainers and people from the film industry, to choose the ten best Japanese films of all time. From the response they got, they decided to expand the list to the top 20, and as part of a seven-way tie for 20th place, the encyclopedia included a picture from Nausicaä, with the description: "An adventure-story animation film". They had more to say about "Gojira", which was also tied for 20th place, but the captions were limited to three lines, and "Gojira", with its translation and director's name, didn't take up almost all of the space like "Kaze no Tani no Naushika", with its translation and director's name did.

The third unexpected place Nausicaä showed up in was in Mektron II for the Super Nintendo. My sister's sister-in-law's son (Got that relationship straight? His name is Orion.) told me that he had seen Nausicaä's mask, glider, and body at the entrance to the room containing one of the Big Bosses. He brought his Super Nintendo to our house, and while he was playing the game, he told me to come look at the baby Ohmus. Unfortunately, they were part of the random menaces that have to be avoided, neutralized or killed in that room, and he told me that the mother really was bad news. I don't think he actually killed any of them, so maybe Nausicaä's ecological message wasn't entirely lost by the game designers who transplanted the Ohmu here.

I sat down to watch as he continued playing, and eventually he entered a room with three squirrel foxes in it. They also had butterfly antennae, but they definitely were squirrel foxes. They took off, jumping from wall to wall up a shaft, and the technique, while difficult, did seem to work for his character, although he didn't succeed in scaling the shaft and finding the goodies at its top until he came back to the area after I had stopped watching.

Another room had a toriuma (rendered as "horseclaw" in Viz's translation) in it. By imitating its actions Orion was able to escape and to free it, although when he returned later the toriuma was back tending an egg. After I stopped watching, Orion eventually found a way to properly rescue it and was rewarded with more goodies.

I was concerned and annoyed with the game designers for including Nausicaä's body in the game, but apparently it wasn't her, or she wasn't dead, since Orion tells me that, at a later point, he was forced to jump from a dangerous situation, and Nausicaä flew up on Mehve and rescued his character. He also says that according to a friend who's gotten farther, that his character will end up flying Mehve herself (the game character is female) for a short time later in the game.

None of the Nausicaä references is explicitly identified, and Orion's friend didn't recognize them (he had never watched Nausicaä), although Orion recognized them immediately from his descriptions, and, of course they were obvious once he had seen them himself.

I wonder when Nausicaä will surprise me again from an unexpected place.