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Marking my 1300th review here on Mikomi is the last film that Hayao Miyazaki directed before announcing his retirement in 2013 in the form of The Wind Rises, a fictional biographic film depicting the life of famous Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi. The movie is a testament to Miyazaki's work throughout the past 20 years with Ghibli as it takes on an anti-war stance with exploring how Jiro's passion for designing planes would be negatively effected by Japan's increasing desire to take on a militaristic regime in the years building up to World War II. Long-time fans of Miyazaki's work are well-aware of the director's strong pacifist beliefs and his fascination with animating flying sequences, both qualities being heavily emphasized throughout this film. |
As a reflection of Horikoshi's life, The Wind Rises mixes around documented and fictional takes on elements to his life. The gradual developments of Horikoshi's work creating prototype planes that led up to the development of the Mitsubishi A5M fighter plane he was famous for creating, the patriarchal society that Japan had established at that time and Japan's military relationship with Germany during the 1930s were depicted accurately to a great extent. However, the aspects of Horikoshi's personal life explored were mostly fictionalized as his work was never inspired by Italian airplane engineer Giovanni Battista Caproni, was more socially reserved with bouts of self-doubt at points during his engineering career and he didn't marry a wife that suffered from tuberculosis. The third mentioned plot point is notable in that Miyazaki actually incorporated that story element from a 1930s novel that the movie has its title taken from called The Wind Has Risen that explored the life of a young woman living at a sanatorium suffering from tuberculosis.
Setting aside whatever liberties Miyazaki took with depicting Horikoshi's life though, The Wind Rises is still a rather poignant film as it explores how one can maintain the ideals they originally envisioned from their passion of something they care for in spite of the possible negative applications that said passion could be applied. In the case of Horikoshi's love for designing planes, it would be their use for killing others by the Japanese military. The daydreams that Horikoshi has for Caproni throughout the film serve as a coping mechanism of sorts for the young man in order to allow him to justify pushing forward with the work he desires to make despite the future bloodshed that his creations would be used for. In addition, this passion comes at the expense of any time that Horikoshi can have to spend with his suffering wife. This symbolism shows that having a passion for something that interests you can come with sacrifices and setbacks that one will have to make or overcome in order to push forward. The theme also carries anti-war sentiments with it when one is able to make sense of these elements of Wind Rises, though Miyazaki wasn't afraid to drop some not-so-subtle elements to his film in position of his beliefs during a later plot point in the film when Horikoshi meets up with a German visitor with anti-Nazi leanings that nearly get him in trouble with the Japanese military. Since the subject matter of this film is a little more heavy and mature compared to most Ghibli titles, this would be a film best recommended for teenage audiences and older to those expecting the typical family-friendly work that the studio is known for.
Visually, The Wind Rises employs the typical high-quality drawing style that Ghibli is known for with beautiful scenery shots and fluid animation a regular sight throughout the film. Outside of the graceful movements coming from planes flying in the air, another animated highlight in the film includes a faithful depiction of the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake seen during the early part of the film that believably depicts the damage and destruction it inflicts while Horikoshi is on his way to attend a university in Tokyo by train.
As his swan song to involvement in anime, The Wind Rises is an excellent work contributed by Hayao Miyazaki that features a more realistic setting in the application of the famed animator's typical themes of his work that explores the challenges and hardships that can arise with someone having a deep passion for their work in the form of Jiro Horikoshi. If you've been a long-time fan of the work of Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki, this film is a definite recommendation I would make for you to check out.
Last updated Sunday, August 02 2015. Created Sunday, August 02 2015.