Kushana is the main antagonist of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. She is voiced by Yoshiko Sakakibara in Japanese and Uma Thurman in English.
Kushana has ginger hair with a crown she has blue eyes, blue earrings, and she wears knight armor. She later appears without her armor, revealing white dress and her mechanical arm and legs when she escapes from captivity.
Despite her ferocity in battle, Kushana has a nobility of character that earns her the respect of both Nausicaa and Master Yupa. While she admires Nausicaa's pacifist ideals, she sees herself as inescapably destined to walk the path of bloodshed. She cares deeply for the men under her command, but is portrayed as brutal and harsh to her enemies.
Just like Nausicaa, she was born into a man's world. She had to survive by, in a sense, becoming a man; she wore armor, commanded fleets, etc. She had to make tough decisions, and had to be very cautious of her surroundings. Because she knew, behind everything, her brothers were out to kill her and take over the throne.
While seemingly cold-hearted at first, the reader's approach to the character becomes more emotional as we delve into the plot. We find out that the emperor who succeeded Kushana's father poisoned Kushana's mother, making her insane. People took Kushana away, and left her mother alone with only a rag doll. In her insanity, Kushana's mother thought that this rag doll was her daughter. This part of the story once again reflects upon Greek mythology, where many gods and other characters killed their children in fits of temporary insanity.
She lost one of her arms as a child during an Ohmu attack and is driven by a desire for revenge against the giant insects. She intends to destroy the Toxic Jungle by any means necessary. While she is not presented as completely evil, she is definitely an antagonist. The reason for her motive is that when she was a child she was attacked by an Omhu and her left arm and two legs had to be amputated and replaced with bionic brass-plated limbs. Although at times she appears to be mean and cruel, she is actually very afraid. She puts up a strong front in order to hide her fears and actually has a very caring heart. As the story unfolds she changes into a gentle and more caring person. When Mito returns to the Valley, she orders her troops to stop firing at him because she was worried about Nausicaä's safety. So even though she led the invasion of the Valley, Kushana is not a hateful character. Her plight generates sympathy, and her goals and ideals are understandable. She could not have predicted the results of her actions and did not do anything out of cruelty.
- Hideaki Anno, who worked on the film of Nausicaa, had planned to do a manga side story centered around Kushana's military exploits, but Miyazaki refused him permission, believing that Anno would only use her to "play war games".
- Susan J. Napier and Patrick Drazen note a parallel between the character of Kushana, the rival warrior princess, and that of Nausicaä - Napier describes Kushana as Nausicaä's "shadow", noting that Kushana is not shown with any "alleviating, 'feminine' virtues" as Nausicaä is, but that they share the same tactical brilliance. Drazen describes this as a "feminine duality". Miyazaki has described the two characters as being "two sides of the same coin", but Kushana having "deep, physical wounds".
- 『ロマンアルバム 映画 風の谷のナウシカ GUIDE BOOK 復刻版』 徳間書店、2010年、pp.34 - 35。