Definitions

Ohmu

Ohmu

An is a fictional terrestrial arthropod from the film and manga Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, by Hayao Miyazaki.

Relationship with humans

While Ohmu are not aggressive unless provoked, humans generally do not approach Ohmu for fear of enraging them. However, a small number of humans (including Princess Nausicaä) are able to safely approach and even communicate with the creatures. In addition to their enormous physical power, a traveling Ohmu will unintentionally scatter spores from the forest wherever it goes. Land in which these spores germinate becomes unsuitable for human use, so every effort is made to prevent Ohmu from nearing human settlements. Ohmu themselves are not inclined to leave the Sea of Decay unless enraged and chasing an aggressor or intentionally traveling. While living Ohmu are feared by humans, their cast-off exoskeletons are extremely valuable as a material for weapons, tools and buildings.

Ohmu seem to have some unusual abilities. They possess a powerful empathy which causes them to reciprocate human emotions: responding to aggression with aggression, peaceful gestures with tranquility. The touch of their tentacles can heal human injury, even seemingly fatal wounds. In the manga, Ohmu are capable of generating a gelatinous substance known only as "serum". This mysterious gel can provide oxygen to the blood of a human even if the human is not breathing, and will protect a human from the harmful effects of the forest's toxic spores. Ohmu serum is held in high regard by worm-handlers, who seem to believe it has magical properties. The blood of an Ohmu is deep blue in color. Other insects will not attack a human whose body or clothing has been coated in Ohmu blood.

Life cycle

The film suggests that infant Ohmu are approximately the size of young adults. Notably, it is mentioned that as a child, Nausicaä once encountered a young Ohmu the size of a small dog. Like many arthropods, they grow larger each time they molt, and form a new exoskeleton to match their new size. Immediately prior to molting, an Ohmu gorges itself, presumably to stretch its exoskeleton as it forms, to accommodate growth.

Alternate spellings

"Ohmu" was the romanization of the Japanese name for these creatures that was used in the English translation of the Nausicaä manga, and subsequently in most English writing about the manga and the film. "Ohm" is used on the subtitle tracks on official Studio Ghibli film prints, seen at screenings around the world. When the film was finally released with an official dubbed English audio track by Disney in the year 2005, the script sent from Studio Ghibli to Disney romanized the name as "Ohm", so the name is read that way by the English-speaking actors, though the subtitles read "ohmu". This is because native Japanese speakers often drop any final "u" off an attempted English spelling of Japanese words. Japanese syllables can't end in any consonants other than "n" or "m", and then only "m" before a "p" or "b" starting the next syllable. Thus, when Japanese speakers try to pronounce most English words, including words than end with an "m", like "ohm" (the 'h' there is used to indicate that the o is a long vowel), they must add another syllable, creating "o.mu". When attempting to transliterate what they would natively render as "オーム" into something that looks like English orthography, then, it is not surprising that they would make the mistake of rendering "ohmu" as "ohm".

Although the word is written with the kanji for "King" and "Insect", the pronunciation of these characters as ohmu or ohm is Miyazaki's own invention.

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