The Wind Rises

“Kaze Tachinu poster” by . Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –

****Spoilers Ahead****

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My love of anime started with Sailor Moon, but shortly after that I discovered Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. My first Ghibli film was Kiki’s Delivery Service but I quickly expanded and watched whatever I could find. I have yet to see all of these works and am slowly enjoying them, I was able to recently sit down and watch The Wind Rises.

As I remember Miyazaki’s works, I always think of something sort of supernatural or magical. For instance, in Kiki’s Delivery Service there are witches, in Howl’s Moving Castle there are wizards, spells, portals and all sorts of magical instances, etc. I also remember that in every Miyazaki film that I had seen prior to The Wind Rises, the main protagonist was always a female. So, when I sat down to watch this movie I was shocked to learn that the main protagonist was instead, a male. It was a nice change for sure.

The Wind Rises really captivated me with its non-magical story about Jiro Horikoshi, a young boy who dreamed of becoming an aeronautical engineer after realizing that his eyesight would prevent him from becoming a pilot and being encouraged by Caproni in a dream. 

The Wind Rises is set during the years after World War I and up into World War II. Jiro, on his way to university, is traveling via train when the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 strikes. There he meets a young girl named Naoko and her maid. Jiro quickly provides aid when the maid has broken her leg. After providing aid, Jiro quickly leaves without giving the two his name.

In 1927, Jiro and his friend Kiro Honjo graduate together and move on to a job together at Mitsubishi. They are assigned to design a fighter plane, known as The Falcon, for the Imperial Army. After the testing for this plane fails, the two are sent to Germany to do technical research on German fighter planes.

In 1932, Jiro gets promoted to chief designer for a fighter plane to compete again for their plane to have a spot with the Imperial Army. After failing again, Jiro takes a summer vacation and meets Naoko again. The two become engaged and eventually, are married.

Naoko becomes a serious inspiration for Jiro, even though she is very ill with tuberculosis, encouraging him to work hard and telling him he will be successful.

Jiro leaves to the test flight of his successful aircraft.. While the testing is happening, Jiro gets a sense from the wind that Naoko is no longer with him.

In 1945, after Japan has lost the war, Naoko and Jiro’s inspiration for plane building, Caproni, come to Jiro in a dream telling him that he did a great job. Naoko then tells Jiro  it’s his time to be happy.

The story telling in this particular movie was excellent. While there were many fictional elements of this movie there were also a few historical truths as well.

Jiro Horikoshi did exist and did create planes, some of which were used in the war. The real Jiro was opposed to the war and the fighting. His friend Kiro, was also a real person who created planes for Mitsubishi. The time line is also accurate as well. The earthquake did happen as well as the war and the damage caused by the war.

The art was classic Miyazaki. Simplistic eyes and hair. Not like what you see in modern anime. There are no unrealistic highlights in the hair and the eyes aren’t huge. (Don’t get me wrong, I love modern anime style. However, I also enjoy the style of Miyazaki where things are kept simple. Especially in a movie like this where there is so much sadness and destruction.)

One of the things I love about Miyazaki’s art style is the dullness of the hair. I’m not saying everyone has dull hair, but you definitely cannot see shiny highlights of our hair in the dark. I also think the simplistic color schemes used help keep viewers focused on the heart of the story.

This film actually caused some controversy in Japan. It received criticism from the political left and right and from an anti-smoking group. Liberals in Japan were frustrated that it was a warplane engineer that was the protagonist. They wondered why Miyazaki would make a film that seemed to be flattering the man. I, however, think that this film simply portrayed what happened in history. In the movie, Jiro never really specifically is shown to be for or against the war.  As for the actual Jiro, he was against the fighting so I believe these arguments really hold no validity.

The score for this movie was composed and conducted by Joe Hisaishi who is known for many other Miyazaki works such as My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Ponyo, and Howl’s Moving Castle. He is also known for scores from Mobile Suit Gundam Movie II: Soldiers of Sorrow, Mobile Suit Gundam Movie II: Encounters in Space, and the video game: Ni no Kuni.

The score was performed by the Yomiuri Nippon Symphony Orchestra.

Overall, I felt that this movie was great. I loved the historical truths behind it as well as the added love story. I enjoyed that lack of magic and the fact that it was real. The music was perfect and kept me captivated. (I’m not a music critic! I can’t play or read music so I can’t say a whole lot there.)

You can purchase your own copy here

The Wind Rises

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki

Produced by: Toshio Suzuki

Written by: Hayao Miyazaki

Based on: Kaze Tachinu by Hayo Miyazaki

Produced by: Studio Ghibli

–All un-credited screenshots were taken and edited by me

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