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I just finished reading the first volume of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. There was a scene that confused me in an earlier part of the book. I don't remember the page numbers.

When Princess Kushana lands her gunship in the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaa rushes in and challenges one of the soldiers to a duel (essentially). After the situation is defused by Master Yupa, Kushana asks if she can see Nausicaa's sword. Nausicaa hands over her sword, Kushana admires it for a moment and then cuts it to pieces with her own sword. There doesn't seem to be much of a reaction from Nausicaa or her people when this happens and the fact that Kushana destroyed the sword is never mentioned again.

What I don't understand is, why is the act of Kushana breaking the sword not more significant? Apparently the sword was made of ohmu shell, which is supposed to be tougher than the ceramic blades used by most soldiers (evidenced when Nausicaa chips her ceramic blade on an ohmu shell in one of the first scenes of the book). Furthermore, ohmu shell swords must be incredibly rare, considering that Kushana (who is the princess of a large empire) would be carrying an "inferior" ceramic blade. Wouldn't that sword be like a family heirloom or something?

The only explanation that I can think of is that the scene is purely intended to set up what a badass Kushana is and that Nausicaa is not upset because it is a small price to pay to get the Torumekian forces to leave peacefully.

Note: I have only read the first volume, which ends shortly after Asbel gets shot down by Kushana's gunship. I don't care about spoilers if you need them in your answers, so fire away. I have not watched the anime either.

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First off, I think your instinct is generally correct: This scene is meant to establish that Kushana is a very physically strong character with excellent martial skills. This becomes more relevant later, especially when more is revealed about Kushana's physical body.

There's also truth in @kumagoro's answer. Breaking the sword is a partially symbolic act, of breaking the will of the conquered.

That said, I don't agree that "There doesn't seem to be much of a reaction from Nausicaä" to the sword's destruction. Kushana drops the sword in one panel and breaks it in another; the panel between the two shows Nausicaä's reaction, which does indeed look like shock to me. We don't particularly get to see the reactions of other Valley natives, but Nausicaä's seems appropriate to me.

I think we can combine that reaction with the above concepts to formulate the following hypothesis:

Nausicaä attacks Kushana's soldiers, and Uncle Mito defuses the situation by forcing both sides to stop.

Kushana appears and is faced with a delicate situation. On the one hand, someone just killed her own soldiers, and even though that's paused for the moment, the rest of her soldiers aren't necessarily going to be satisfied if Kushana just brushes it off with no consequences. Justice needs to be seen to be done. On the other, she doesn't want her soldiers slaughtering everyone in the Valley; she needs their manpower to handle the God Warrior egg.

So, Kushana destroys the weapon used to kill her soldiers. This demonstrates her role power -- she can destroy things in the Valley at will and nobody in the Valley can stop her -- as well as her physical power to break such a strong blade. It's an act of dominance.

Nausicaä is dismayed, but to the regular people of the Valley, that sword is a tool used by royals more than a historically or culturally significant artifact, as far as it seems to me. Yes, it's a rare object, but the people of the Valley are going through a pretty darned traumatic day; Kushana destroying a royal sword is a relatively minor incident.

All that said, this scene also involves Nausicaä demonstrating a psychokinetic power that never shows up again, either, so Hayao Miyazaki may have just been making stuff up and seeing what stuck. :-)

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To understand it, you also need to think that nausica killed a person in kushana's team.

As kushana's aspect, she shoud be angry about that. Because she is good manager. If she is not enough smart, she may revenge like kill nausica. But if she do it, it means the war will start between kushana's side vs nausica's side. That's not good strategy for her because her only have small team in here. Then she doesn't start the war. But she is still very angry, then she brake the sword instead.

  • I understand why Kushana broke the sword. I just don't understand why this is not significant, i.e. it is never mentioned by any of the characters later. I thought the sword was made of a vary hard-to-get material. In fact, when Master Yupa steps between and Nausicaa and the soldier, he catches the sword with the side of his ohmu-shell gauntlet. Later he says [paraphrased] "if my gauntlet was ceramic I might be dead/severely injured". Again this suggests that ohmu shell is a rare and valuable material, even more so when it is used to make a useful object like a sword. – CalciferFreed Jun 1 '17 at 16:54

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