The History of this Translation

Around June of 2002, I did a search on the internet for English translations of "Nausicaä of the Valley of the Winds." I'd seen the Japanese version, and had the misfortune of suffering through "Warriors of the Wind," but I was hoping that someone might have made the effort to make a faithful (if not official) English translation of the film.

I quickly found two versions, one of which appalled me with its errors. The other, by Miho Nishida (which, as it turns out, is based on the first), is quite good, but it is a very literal translation. Such a translation is useful for English-speakers who want to know exactly what is being said, and understand the Japanese nuances in the script. I can highly recommend it on that basis. But in my opinion, it is not very good in terms of storytelling and characterization. I also wanted a script that could potentially be used for dubbing, although I have no intention of embarking on such a project myself, even had I permission to do so.

I continued to search, but could not find any more English translations of the script. I was disappointed at the lack of a script that tells the story of Nausicaä in an engaging way.

I therefore resolved to make such a translation myself.

The Nishida version was good enough to use verbatim in many places. At the least, it was a good place to start. The first thing I did was adjust the foreword to reflect my own changes, and keep intact the credits to all those that contributed to the work in the past. Over the next few months, I re-watched the Japanese movie over and over, and worked away at the English script, polishing and re-writing.

Along the way, the script got converted to HTML and I added many italicized notes describing the action in the film, so that it's easier to follow.

In October of 2003, I received some very thoughtful commentary from Eric S. Raymond.

In September of 2004, Nausicaä was playing at a local repertory cinema, as part of a Miyazaki retrospective at the Ottawa International Animation Festival. I told all my friends about it. I was overjoyed that I could finally share this film, which is, to me, one of those nostalgic films from childhood, with all my Canadian friends. I was also eager to read the subtitling work of professional translators, and how they dealt with some of the issues I ran into in my efforts.

Shortly afterwards, I changed a large number of wordings in light of that viewing. In one or two cases, I must admit, I stole a line wholesale. But in many cases, I found, to my satisfaction, that the professionals had translated the Japanese with the same words I had. Sometimes the lines were identical.

By now, I have made enough changes that I can say that the vast majority of it has been written by me. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge the previous work as the seed from which my own has grown.

Names, and the Cultural Conundrum

In the Japanese script, many names indicated a thoroughly non-Japanese culture: "Naushika," "Torumekia." However, there were also many names that were very Japanese in nature, such as "kyo-shin-hei" (giant god soldier) and "Oh-mu" (king insect). In the manga, the latter even played with Japanese writing, by using a made-up character, or kanji, that tripled the usual symbol for insect.

To me, this indicated an effort to convey the appearance that a foreign culture had been translated and presented in Japanese, for a Japanese audience. Therefore, in my script, instead of translating the Japanese directly, I sometimes tried to "reverse-engineer," as it were, the "original" culture from which the Japanese was "translated," so as to present a version of the same for an English audience.

Spellings and exact pronunciations were quite a problem for me. "Naushika" has been spelled out as "Nausicaä," but many other names have not been "officially" spelled out. For instance, for "Kurotowa," other possibilities include "Clotowa," "Krotoa," or "Kulotowa." Or, since "kuro" is Japanese for "black," it might be a translation of his name.

Below is a table with various proper names and how I translated them:

Romanized Japanese English Translation Notes
Fukai Jungle, Wastelands, Blight Literally "rotten sea" or "corrupted sea." I have the Valley folk call it the "Jungle;" other peoples express their attitude towards the fukai by calling it the "Wastelands" or the "Blight."
Kaze no Tani Valley of the Winds A literal translation that sounds great.
Torumekia Tolmechia I also considered "Tormechia" but I took "Tol" for its resemblance to "Toltec" of which I like the sound; I used "ch" instead "k" to emphasize the mechanized society.
Pejite Pejité Accented "e" to emphasize the pronunciation.
Flora and Fauna
Oumu Ohmu I agonized over this name. No, really. It is literally "Insect king," but I would like to find an anglicized version. However, I couldn't think of anything satisfactory.
Ushiabu Behemoth "Ushi" means cow and implies size. Also, "behemoth" fortuitously contains the word "moth," providing an insect connection.
Daiou-yanma Royal Yanma Taken from the Nishida script.
Hamushi Bird-louse Taken from the Nishida script, although I think the translation is inaccurate. "Ha" makes reference to wings; "mushi" means insect, not specifically louse. I would like to find a more graceful translation for this name.
Kitsune-risu Foxrat Literally "fox-squirrel" but "foxrat" is easier to pronounce.
Hisokusari Arsenic Plant "Hiso" is Japanese for arsenic.
Mushigoyashi Mushigoyashi This word seeks an English translation. "Mushi" means insect. I don't know what "goyashi" means.
Meeve Minerva I think I read somewhere that this name was inspired from the German "moewe," the pronunciation of which is pretty close to "Minerva."
Kyoshinhei Titan Warrior, Demon Giant Literally "giant god soldier." The giant deities of Greek mythology are a perfect fit. The people of the Valley revile the Titan, hence the other name.
Asuberu Asbel  
Gikkuri Gikkuri  
Goru Goll  
Jiru Yuri  
Kushana K'Shana Sorry, could not resist the old cliché with the apostrophe.
Kurotowa Kurotowa Too many other possibilities; I couldn't make up my mind, so I'm just using the romanized Japanese for now.
Mito Mito  
Muzu Muzu  
Naushika Nausicaä  
Niga Niga  
Oo-babasama Baba  
Rasuteru Lastelle  
Toeto Toeto  
Yupa Yupa  
mure swarm Other scripts translated this Japanese word as "herd" or "stampede," which is, in fact, more accurate, but I felt that "swarm" was the most appropriate word for this story.

As can be seen above, one considerable liberty I've taken with this script is that different groups of people sometimes use different words to refer to the same thing. This is not done in the Japanese script, and I consider it to be a slight flaw. Note that Yupa, and, to a lesser extent, Nausicaä, being more worldly, alternate between different expressions.

Specific Notes

Here are some notes about parts of the movie that were interesting or challenging to translate.

Act 1

Yupa's joke:

When Yupa returns to the Valley at the beginning of the film, his last statement to the welcoming crowd is actually along the lines of "that is how I was saved, after all" (referring to Nausicaä's dangerous wanderings in the Jungle), to which the crowd laughs rather uproariously. In Japanese, the teacher being saved by his student might be amusing, but in English it is more merely ironic than funny. So, I changed it to "I wish I were in a position to lecture her," which is more indirect and slyly self-deprecating.

Act 2

K'Shana admires the valley:

After K'Shana confides in Kurotowa her ambition to establish a new state in the Valley of the Winds, she teases Kurotowa by calling him a fox. In the Japanese, she actually calls him a badger. In western culture, the fox symbolizes the shrewd schemer, whereas it is the badger in Japan.

Act 3

Nausicaä's dream:

In the dream sequence with Nausicaä as a young child protecting an insect from adults, her father says, "yahari mushi ni tori tsukarete itaka." Miho Nishida translates:

So the tree was being infested, after all. [This phrase can also be interpreted as "So she was possessed <by the bug> after all". It is my strong belief that it is the former, but it's hard to say for sure]

The multiple interpretations stem from the fact that this sentence omits the subject, as Japanese often does, and it's expected to be understood from the context. I must disagree with Nishida-san and claim that the context is definitely Nausicaä. I believe the best direct translation to English would be "she's taken by the insect," meaning "she's become fond of the insect."

My confidence was shaken recently when I viewed a subtitled DVD at a local cinema. They translated this line as "She was being used by the insect." This is, at least, closer to my interpretation than Nishida-san's, but still different enough that I will have to review my translation.

Kurotowa talks with the Titan:

Just before Kurotowa hears of the destruction of K'Shana's convoy, he has a monologue that's half-addressed to the Titan Warrior. The Nishida script does its best with this: "Even for a poor soldier like myself, the ambition that has been rusted for quite some time starts to throb." This is a correct translation, but unfortunately, in English, it does not at all flow well.

Eric Raymond suggested "my ambitions stir with that monster's heart," which is much stronger dramatically. I changed it, however, because I thought it was important that Kurotowa continue to address the Titan directly; I also thought "pulse in veins" would be more appropriate, in this context, so I finally settled on "With each pulse in your veins, you stir up old, forgotten ambitions…"

Asbel introduces Nausicaä:

When Asbel introduces Nausicaä to the Pejité leader, the Japanese phrase he uses is "inochi no onjin" which means "benefactor of my life," and beautifully expresses the depth of his debt. "I owe her my life" doesn't quite do it justice, but I can't think of anything else that sounds natural.

Act 4

The Tolmechian ambush:

When the Pejité brig is ambushed by the Tolmechian corvette, it takes cover in some clouds. Just as they emerge, the corvette appears, and the Pejité leader exclaims, in Japanese, "yonde-itana" which the Nishida script translates very well as "they've anticipated us" or "they've read our intentions." However, I'm sure you'll agree that this is far too erudite an expression to be yelled in the heat of combat. It also doesn't fit into the short timeframe. Finding no good English expression, I just changed it to "sly devils."

Yupa frees the Pejité brig:

When Yupa jumps onto the Pejité brig, the Tolmechian lieutenant says "Uchitotte na o agero" which is literally, "take him down and raise your name" and means "kill him and you will raise the honour of your name." The Japanese expression is extremely compact; as far as I could think of, the best English translation that fit into the tiny space of time, was "a medal to the man who kills him."

The recent subtitled DVD translated this line as "this is your chance for glory!" which is, I think, a little bit better than my own. However, I'll keep my line the way it is.

The gunner utters "Lastelle:"

Okay, so this is not a translation note, but it's something that took me years to figure out. When Nausicaä is trying to stop the flying jar carrying the wounded Ohmu child, the gunner hesitates and says "Lastelle" before he is knocked aside by his superior. Of course (as I've noted in the script) it's because Nausicaä is now wearing clothes that once belonged to the Pejité princess.

This highlights the fabulous interconnectedness of the Nausicaä story. The Tolmechian transport crashes in the Valley of the Winds, and Lastelle, who was their prisoner, is killed. The Tolmechians arrive and occupy the Valley. Nausicaä is taken hostage and is being flown to Tolmechia when Lastelle's brother, Asbel, attacks the convoy. Nausicaä escapes and saves Asbel. They go to Pejité, where Asbel introduces her to his fellow country-folk, and Nausicaä learns of the Pejité master plan. Asbel's mother helps Nausicaä escape, giving Nausicaä some clothes belonging to her daughter, Lastelle. Nausicaä hunts down the Pejité soldiers luring the Ohmu swarm. The Pejité gunner, of course, recognizes the clothes belonging to his princess. Later, the robe is stained with the blue body fluid of the baby ohmu, and becomes the blue robe of the prophecy.