Nausicaä + Jazz = …Jesus?!

Ask any of my close friends what my favorite genre of music is. Seriously, ask anyone. If they don’t say jazz, please tell me. I will promptly cut all ties with that person and move on with my life as a happier individual, having removed one more false friendship.

When I say this, I am kidding of course. I would also accept J-Pop and progressive rock.

…Anyway…

As an avid listener of jazz and watcher of anime, I am always excited to stumble across an avenue where I can mix both of these interests. Most recently, this avenue came in the form of Western jazz group, Rasmus Faber. As few and far between as anime jazz groups are these days, they are still popular enough (and becoming more so) so as to not come as an enormous surprise. However, when listening to Rasmus Faber’s “Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol.3~”, I was amazed to find a third passion of mine enflamed: theology.

I have often contended that Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (「風の谷のナウシカ」) provides one of anime’s greatest examples of Jesus Christ as portrayed in holistic Christianity. However, before I spoil the rest of the article for you, valued readers, I would like to show you what exactly mixed theology, jazz, and anime (Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind).

Below I have included a video to a live performance of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (from “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”)” from “Platina Jazz ~Anime Standards Vol.3~” as well as my own transcription of the lyrics. Take a listen (and a read!).

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

An angel dressed in robot blue,
Kissed by the sun
Turns all the badlands into
Fields of shining gold

No man will be left on this Earth to survive
Goin’ on, destroyin’ all human ties to the land

Man has confessed they can’t undo
What’s already done
But if they should care what there is to do,
Love will unfold

All of nature’s gifts will soon begin to thrive
And at the angel’s name they will follow hand-in-hand

Savior of the Earth, Nausicaä
The Valley of the Wind is where you’ll find her
Angel sent to Earth, Nausicaä
She’s been sent from Heaven up above
To lead all mankind to end these worthless wars
To bring true love and peace, true life on Earth

Man has been blessed with nature’s fruit
We’ve only begun
To know what is there are dreams come true
We got to hold

Flames of the wars of man will only deprive
Us of our lives and the planet on which we stand

Savior of the Earth, Nausicaä
The Valley of the Wind is where you’ll find her
Angel sent to Earth, Nausicaä
She’s been sent from Heaven up above
To lead all mankind to end these worthless wars
To bring true love and peace, true life on Earth

Savior of the Earth, Nausicaä
The Valley of the Wind is where you’ll find her
Angel sent to Earth, Nausicaä
She’s been sent from Heaven up above
To lead all mankind to end these worthless wars
To bring true love and peace, true life on Earth

Were you as impressed as I was? Let’s take a step-by-step approach to analyzing the theological implications of this song in the context of the story of the film as it relates to what the Bible teaches was God’s saving plan as provided by Jesus Christ.

An angel dressed in robot blue,
Kissed by the sun
Turns all the badlands into
Fields of shining gold

This section much very reminiscent of the prophecy of the savior as provided in the beginning of the film. The people of the Valley of the Wind knew that they would be saved, and they even had a written idea of how they would be saved! The song qualifies their prophecy into three succinct statements of how the savior or messiah would appear and act:

  • The ancient images show a figure dressed in blue, depicted as a bearded male
  • The figure is kissed by the sun, which indicates an aura or the blessing of nature
  • The figure accomplishes the saving act by turning the badlands into fields of shining gold
The prophecy as shown in the film.
The prophecy as shown in the film.

The original film provides more than this, but the song does a good job of summarizing the content in poetic form. More importantly, though, how do these lines relate to the image of Jesus Christ? Well, it is no secret that the Jews were awaiting a Messiah. In fact, many had thought that figures before and after Jesus were the messiah, since they seemed to exhibit some limited degree of messianic traits. But what do the Hebrew Scriptures actually prophesy?

If you would like specifics, check out this article, for the vast list presented is beyond the scope of this article. What is important to note is that the Jews knew that a Messiah was coming, and that had an idea of what that Messiah would do, yet they were still surprised by Jesus’ fulfillment of the prophecies for it was still not what they expected. The best parallel to this in Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is that the elders of the village knew the prophecy, yet could not believe that Nausicaä, as the girl she was, could possibly be the one. In the same way, Jesus set out to accomplish all that the Jews needed of him through the Old Testament, but in a way that defied Jewish conventions (like establishing a Heavenly kingdom without overthrowing Rome, preaching peace and love, and allowing himself to be killed in order to save).

Nausicaa unmistakably fulfilled the prophecy, yet she fulfilled in a way that was unexpected.
Nausicaa unmistakably fulfilled the prophecy, yet she fulfilled in a way that was unexpected.

Additionally, this section establishes Miyazaki’s environmentalist focus. “Kissed by the sun” translates, in regard to Jesus Christ, as “Favored by God.” With this in mind, the rest of the song makes more sense in this parallel as God is equated more with nature, or perhaps a supreme power over it. In the flow of energy, the sun is the ultimate source of all life, which adds great significance to being “kissed by the sun.”

No man will be left on this Earth to survive
Goin’ on, destroyin’ all human ties to the land

The Genesis account, regardless of its literal accuracy, makes on thing clear: sin permeates all of man, and thus all of mankind is doomed to death (Genesis 2:17; Romans 5:12, 6:23). Indeed, “no man will be left on this Earth to survive,” and while God created the Earth to be “very good” (Genesis 1:31), sin had cut “all human ties to the land” in contrast to God’s intent.

Destruction wrought by man.
Destruction wrought by man.

In summation, these two lines, in the context of Nausicaä, describe humanity’s environmental destruction such that the race was doomed to complete and utter decimation. This conclusion is parallel to that of the Bible, in which humanity is doomed due to the moral destruction of sin (which includes, I might add, the destruction of the environment).

Man has confessed they can’t undo
What’s already done

In the Christian lens, these two lines refer specifically to the admission that man is sinful, as in the aforementioned passages of Romans 5:12 and 6:23, among many others. Obviously, this is not true for all of mankind. Even in the film, the antagonists thought that they could fix the problems of the world by their own, weapon-based means.

But if they should care what there is to do,
Love will unfold

However! It is possible to bring about salvation! In the film, this came about because of the diligence and sacrifice of Nausicaä. Of course, the parallel here is the diligence and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Romans 3:22-26 claims that those who acknowledge the supernatural (or perhaps even “extremely natural,” if one defines the original plan of Creation as “natural”) sacrifice of Jesus Christ will be saved. In the same way, as Nausicaä’s sacrifice occurred, and the fighting finally ended, it was only then that saving grace was able to unfold, or “love” as the song defines it.

All of nature’s gifts will soon begin to thrive
And at the angel’s name they will follow hand-in-hand

These lines introduce two important concepts for this first time in this song:

  • The restoration of Creation
  • The divine reference of Nausicaä as an “angel”

Something that seems to be frequently missed by Christians is Revelation’s mention of not just a new Heaven, but also a new Earth (21:1). Jesus often preached about the “Kingdom” (a la Mark 1:14), and in the Lord’s Prayer of Matthew 6, Jesus asks that the Lord’s will be done on Earth, not just in Heaven. These combined with numerous other accounts, like the pacifying of nature in the name of God in Isaiah 11:6 (again, it doesn’t matter how literally you interpret this), indicate that God has a plan to restore His Creation, including the Earth.

Nausicaa is literally killed by the god of the narrative (nature, or the ohmu) due to the actions of man, and then resurrected by that exact force, ultimately resulting in the coming together of Heaven and Earth. Sound familiar?
Nausicaa is literally killed by the god of the narrative (nature, or the ohmu) due to the actions of man, and then resurrected by that exact force, ultimately resulting in the coming together of Heaven and Earth. Sound familiar?

Regarding the use of the term “angel” to describe a Messiah, it seems appropriate in the case of Nausicaä. In the film, she appears to contain some form of divinity, particularly if that divinity is derived from the highest power of the film: nature. The Jesus parallel still holds with this use of vocabulary, though. Just think of the phrase, “the angel of the Lord.” Where is it used? Well my immediate thought is in Moses’ experience with the burning bush in Exodus 3:2. This is fairly universally regarded as Moses’ encounter with God, indicating, among other passages, that the term “angel” can be sometimes used to refer to divinity or the container thereof. Some Old Testament scholars even equate certain angelic appearances as Jesus, though I am not such a scholar and cannot affirm or deny those claims (my gut reaction is, “eeehhhhh,” but I am too ignorant to judge).

Savior of the Earth, Nausicaä
The Valley of the Wind is where you’ll find her

The first line is an easy comparison, and I’m sure you can draw the connections yourself. The second line, however, while perhaps less theologically significant, is still of interest to me in this study. The Valley of the Wind, in the film, seems to be described as a rather insignificant place. A small village that seems to be minding its own business, yet ends up being the birthplace of the most important human being in the film. Jesus was similarly born in the town of Bethlehem, with which, if you have ever heard the over-dramatized, stereotypical Christmas story, you are probably familiar.

Small, but interesting overlap, no?

The Valley of the Wind. What a quaint little village.
The Valley of the Wind. What a quaint little village.

Angel sent to Earth, Nausicaä
She’s been sent from Heaven up above

Again, this is an easy comparison. Based on the conclusion made earlier that the term “angel” is appropriate for both Messiahs, Nausicaä and Jesus Christ, it follows that they would both be sent from “Heaven up above.” In Nausicaä’s case, this is likely more of a reference to the divinity of nature, or some power therein, that desired to use her to save the Earth and humanity through that. In Jesus’ case, He was sent as the Son of God (John 3:16).

To lead all mankind to end these worthless wars
To bring true love and peace, true life on Earth

Nausicaä’s purpose in these two lines is quite apparent in the film. Not only does Miyazaki show his environmentalist colors, but also his pacifist colors. Throughout the film, war displays nothing but mutual destruction with absolutely no practical gain to be had.

Isaiah and Revelation, though not exclusively, describe a time of peace that Jesus will bring about on the Earth. The theories as to the application of this differ, of course, as all religious dialogue in all religions brings about various interpretations of differing degrees of severity.

The inclusion of the phrase “true life on Earth” makes these lines even more intriguing from a theological perspective. Paul, in I Corinthians 15, speaks at length regarding not only the resurrection of Jesus Christ, but the ultimate resurrection of believers. Coupled with the knowledge of God’s plan to restore Creation, these concepts synthesize quite logically into a “true life on Earth” as it was originally intended.

Man has been blessed with nature’s fruit
We’ve only begun
To know what is there are dreams come true
We got to hold

Flames of the wars of man will only deprive
Us of our lives and the planet on which we stand

These two stanzas seem to be a mere summation of the themes as given in the rest of the song. Man was blessed with nature and must protect it from the worthless wars that do nothing but harm man and all around man. Christians must keep this in mind of course, but the parallel of sin and war/violence must also keep those who believe in the Bible and its teachings mindful.

And following this the ever-important chorus repeats two more times, which adds additional layers of emphasis to the existence of Nausicaä as humanity’s savior, which translates to Jesus Christ according to the parallels as described above.

While I have long wanted to write an article on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, it is amazing to me to see that themes that I would have so fleshed out revealed in a Western jazz cover of the theme. Regardless of your beliefs, parallels like these are always intriguing and are one particular reason that literature provides an otherwise impossible avenue of connecting humans (and perhaps even the divine!) over thousands of years. I hope you enjoyed this commentary, and please check out more of Rasmus Faber’s great covers on iTunes and his YouTube channel!

4 thoughts on “Nausicaä + Jazz = …Jesus?!

  1. […] In honor of poetry week, I wanted to write about a certain song from one of my favorite RPGs. Many Japanese songs are written almost in the form of poetry, in my opinion. Sure, many times they don’t rhyme, but poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme. For me, poetry is when words are when paint pictures in our minds as we hear them. There are a few video games that can pull this off well, and Final Fantasy IX’s “Melodies of Life” is one of them. I was also inspired to write this article by a previous one created by Japesland on Beneath The Tangles. […]

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