Before the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, before the great war that tore Japan asunder, Jirou Horikoshi lived in a world of dreams - dreams of flight, and dreams of making the world a better place.
Kaze Tachinu is the story of the man who created the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, the most famous airplane in Japanese history. From his childhood in Fujioka, Jirou dreamed of designing flying machines like his hero, Italian aviation pioneer Giovanni Battista Caproni. Through disaster, romance, war and loss, Jirou continues to chase that dream - learning along the way that once released into the world, dreams can take on a very different shape.
Before its release, director Miyazaki Hayao declared that Kaze Tachinu would be his final film. Like most of Miyazaki's films, it was the top-grossing movie of its release year, earning $113 million in the domestic box office in 2013. The film was controversial on both sides of the political spectrum because of its sympathetic portrayal of Horikoshi and its perceived anti-war stance. The film was nominated for an Academy Award, Miyazaki's third nomination.
The film has won several awards. In 2013 it won the Best Animated Feature during the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, during the New York Film Critics Online, during the Online Film Critics Society, during the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and during the Toronto Film Critics Association. Also in 2013 it won the Best Animated Film during the Boston Online Film Critics Association (which tied with Frozen), during the Boston Society of Film Critics, during the Chicago Film Critics Association, during the New York Film Critics Circle and during the San Diego Film Critics Society. During the same year it won the Audience Favorite – Animation during the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Best Family Film during the Women Film Critics Circle. In 2014 it won the Animation of the Year during the Japan Academy Prize, the Best Animated Film during the National Board of Review and the Best Motion Picture, Animated or Mixed Media during the Satellite Awards.
Hayao Miyazaki's ultimate film is an accumulation of his life's work pieced together into his final masterpiece: The Wind Rises.
The film is based on a true story, that of Jirou Horikoshi. He was a japanese aeronautical engineer in charge of the design of the Mitsubishi Zero, the fighter plane used in World War II - specifically during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
The movie begins by following Jirou at a young age and his dream to become a pilot. This is not the case because Jirou is nearsighted; nevertheless, we see Jirou's great interest in the Italian aeronautical pioneer, Count Caproni, as he becomes inspired
to become an aeronautical engineer.
The story doesn't just focus on Jirou and aviation, but it develops into a love story between Jirou and Naoko. Hayao Miyazaki was able to produce a beautiful love story that did not interfere with the work focus surrounding Jirou. Both Jirou's love for airplanes and Naoko were able to coexist and have the same equal amount of passion throughout the film.
Like any other Miyazaki and Ghibli film, the art is memorable and breathtaking. The watercolor style backgrounds are drawn with so much care and detail that the animation alone is able to bring the movie to life.
For those of you who have seen Miyazaki's films, you will definitely have déjà vu moments as you see the similarities between the artwork and music. You will see the animation and music that made: Porco Rosso, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, and his other movies so distinctive from one another all coming together and producing that unique tone for The Wind Rises. We can clearly see all of Miyazaki's accomplishments in the industry pouring out into this film and piecing itself together like a perfect jigsaw puzzle.
I believe that the characters are what drive this film to its fullest potential. I have only watched the english dubbed, but the casting was great. Each voice fit the different role remarkably. Emily Blunt and Joseph Gordon-Levitt deserve nothing but praise as they did an outstanding job voicing Naoko and Jirou. All of the relationships developed in this movie are a beautiful portrayal of every day life friendships and interactions. There are no “bad” guys. The suspense built is not from an external race trying to cause havoc, but rather a more personal suspense built within Jirou. Overall, the characters are very charismatic and enjoyable.
The pacing of the movie was very steady. It never felt as if it were too rushed or was dragging. Much of the film is spent in and out of Jirou’s dreams. Some people believed that it was hard to decipher when he is actually dreaming versus when he is not. The introduction of Caproni makes it very obvious, or should, to whether or not he is dreaming.
There have been many complaints about how this movie doesn't live up to Miyazaki and his other films, but I think otherwise. Each of his movies are uniquely set in their own world of a dream-like fantasy. The Wind Rises joins them as a masterpiece, but in its own category.
By the end of the movie, all of your questions will be answered. Your overall understanding of the events that have just taken place will hit you straight in the heart - let those tears of joy and sadness run down your cheeks! The finale of Miyazaki's movies has ended. Go with the wind as you take away the two hours of complete sublimity. My words alone cannot even describe the amount of emotion and beauty seen in this film, you will have to see it for yourself!
It’s no secret that Miyazaki is a big giant grump who looks down on practically every part of anime culture that doesn’t include flying or trees, and while it’s true that allowing that abomination known as Project Ice to exist was a bad movie on the industry’s part, it would really help if he controlled his own fetishes when trying to show people what he thinks animation should be like. Whilst I’ve enjoyed everything he’s made before his (fourth) final film, it’s pretty clear that he’s been losing control when it comes to delivering what’s fun over what’s important to him and I’ve always feared
that he would eventually let his biases overwhelm general entertainment if he didn’t stop soon, so hopefully he stays retired this time.
Of course, it would have been even better if he did it before Wind Rises came into existence, because my god was this one fucking dull movie.
The genre that Miyazaki tackles with his latest flying extravaganza is the biographical one. Whilst it’s true that stuff like Porco Rosso and Kiki were films centered around one protagonist’s life, Wind Rises goes a step further by detailing the life of our main hero, Jiro, as he grows from a boy to university to adult to irresponsible fuckwad. We see that he’s acrophobic but still wants to build planes as inspired by his dream friend and famous plane designer Caproni. As such he grows into a man who builds planes that are eventually used for war – who didn’t see that coming? – and eventually gets to marry a girl he knew when she was only twelve or so whilst he was in college. More things happen later, but it’s not really my place to spoil that stuff, so I’ll just go into “complaining mode” now.
Okay animation guys, I’m going to establish a new rule. You know those slice-of-life stories where we follow a dude as he learns about new things and the charm apparently relies on how much you like the focus character whilst throwing in a few comedic scenes that make up the crux of anime like Silver Spoon or Uchouten without any real conflict that can’t be solved through a counselor on Skype? You’re NOT allowed to do that anymore! You can still have them as downtime or whatever, but you have to have something else, even if you have to hire the Kanon car or introduce a sick mum who’s not really that sick, Totoro-style. Why? Because it’s boring! It doesn’t allow the audience to learn about the subject matter you’re probably trying to teach. And it’s #1 on my most hated anime cliche list for a reason.
Even if I was into Jiro as a character, I still wouldn’t find following him for two hours all that interesting because there is no real personal conflict that happens to him throughout the majority of his life. He likes planes. Some plane-related/war-related incidents happen that have fuck-all tension and don’t really affect him all that much. He meets the girl he’s going to marry and we get a few playful scenes before they decide they want to be together. He goes through a bunch of timeskips that have no subtitles to indicate when they’re happening and come off as jarring when they occur without incident because after he stops being a kid, he looks the same in his thirties as he does in his twenties.
And to make it worse, the finale of the film is that the story just ends. No real big scene. No big climax. It’s just a revelation where the message overrides the story and then it just ends without a second thought. That’s got to be the most sudden “okay we’re done” ending I’ve seen since that godawful Steins;Gate movie.
I won’t say the film isn’t without merits. The stretch of time where Jiro gets married and has to care for his wife is decent, if only because it actually introduced a personal conflict to his life. The way it all ends up is sad, even though the finale became a little manipulative in that Up sort of fashion. Unfortunately, that only takes up about twenty minutes of the film at most and it only happens in the last act.
I suppose Wind Rises is worth watching if you’re a plane geek who’s into all the “many” historically accurate details that are peppered through the film’s early 90s setting, or if you’re a die-hard Miyazaki fan (despite the fact that I didn’t like this film, I’ll probably still buy it just to complete the collection), or if you’re into “feels”, whatever the fuck that means. But dude, that’s a lot of hype and talent to use up on what comes across like a nature documentary with a plane dude as the main subject. Personally, I want to free up time to watch Castle in the Sky again. Whilst eating Papa John’s pizza.
I had the good luck to be able to watch The Wind Rises on the big screen in a theater not long after it screened in Japan, for it had a theatrical release in Korea. Although due to the amount of controversy it was generating among Korean audiences (and a fair amount of hate, which I found was a bit too overblown after I finished the movie), the movie was only available in a few select theaters, I say it was quite worth the long trip I made to find a theater that screened this movie.
So, The Wind Rises is a movie that focuses on
a man named Jirou Horikoshi, the designer of the A6M Zero fighter plane of World War II, notoriously known for its use in the kamikaze, or suicide, missions back in the war.
That said, this is far from a biographical movie. It's a fictional work loosely based around the historical figure known as Jirou Horikoshi. Wikipedia classifies this movie as an "animated historical fantasy film" and I think that classification fits the bill perfectly.
The story focuses on the life of Jirou Horikoshi and the romantic relationship between him and a woman named Setsuko, who suffers from tuberculosis. Overall, I felt the pacing of the movie was pretty well done, starting from childhood and slowly progressing through different stages of his life in a very fluid manner, although there were moments that felt rushed from time to time (the romantic relationship between Setsuko and Jirou for example).
The animation was of course amazingly detailed and well done (I loved how they paid attention to giving the animation depth; little mannerisms like a guy habitually shaking his legs under the desk while he’s working or the main character’s suit crumpling up when he sat down on a stool). One other thing I loved were the “dream sequences”, basically portraying Jirou’s dreams in a very surrealistic manner, as they were very vibrant and made for perfect transitions between different parts of the movie. These things, combined with an amazing soundtrack that fit perfectly with the mood (as expected of Hisaisi Joe), made some scenes truly amazing. Well, I had expected nothing less from Ghibli and Miyazaki Hayao, but even with that in mind, it blows you away.
The characters are overall unique and likeable. We also have some glimpses of other historical figures such as aeronautical engineers Giovanni Batista Caproni (who serves as a role model of sorts in Jirou[‘s dreams] in the movie), and Hugo Junkers. And of course there’s Setsuko, the lover of our man, Jirou. The romance in this movie of course tugs right at your heartstrings. It's not burningly flamboyant nor overly exciting; rather it is one of those faint, calm romances that makes you feel calm and happy inside. It makes you shed a few tears (and be on the brink of shedding more on other occasions) for the romance for it was absolutely beautiful and heart-wrenching.
(Fun fact: Giovanni Batista Caproni’s aircraft manufacturing company, Caproni, manufactured a plane called the Caproni Ca.309 Ghibli, which served as the inspiration to Ghibli’s name)
On a side note, the voice acting by Anno Hideaki (famous for being the chief director of Evangelion TV and movie series) I thought was quite amusing; it fit the out-of-it character of the main character pretty well, although at the more emotional moments of the movie, it lacked depth.
Overall, it was a very enjoyable 2 hours. It made me laugh, it made me cry at the right moments, it made me stare at the screen with a slack jawed expression because some scenes were just too beautiful.
Finally, I found the criticism and controversy it’s generating (especially in Korea) was a bit overblown. If anything, I found it to be quite critical of war and Japan attacking other nations (at several points in the movie, the characters say that Japan is going down a path of ruin [along with Germany] ).
I think it’s best to enjoy this as a piece, a work of art, rather than read too deep into it. I advise you to watch it just as a story of the life and love of a man who simply loved aircrafts.
The Wind Rises is director Hayao Miyazaki's swan song; the final chapter of his illustrious film career which features such captivating tales as Spirited Away. Inevitably, his last motion picture is going to be filled with sentimentality and tearful scenes.
The Wind Rise is captivating, but it does not reach the level Miyazaki's other works have.
Story (7/10): The Wind Rises details the journey of Jirou Horikoshi as he walks through the many stages of life. His central goal is to become an airplane designer, and much of the plot is spent detailing this process. Through flashback sequences where Jirou talks with a famous Italian designer in
his dreams, the story reveals the philosophies on life our lead entertains, and what goals he hopes to achieve. This is an excellent narrative device that makes the main character compelling without needing to tediously recite aspects of his character in bland conversational segments. These dreams also contain hints of the themes which (unfortunately) are marred by issues that occur in the latter half of the film.
While the first half of the tale does a great job of showing our main character's growth, his pitfalls, and his background, the second half feels a bit lost. A lot of time is spent of a romance that blooms between him, and a girl he helped during an earthquake in their childhood. This wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing were it not for the fact these scenes don't really sell the female character very well. While their relationship is charming in a very earnest way, I never got a feel for their chemistry or the character of Naoko Satomi, and this is a big strike against the film because much of the second half is focused on the main character's connection to her.
What's worse, the film wraps up in a rather confusing segment that looks back on the events in the past in an abridged, surprisingly un-insightful. This comes right off the heels of a tear-jerking scene, so it feels even more abrupt than it normally would. While there is a sense of thematic resolution here, the focus of the themes is directed towards a conflict that doesn't get any screen time in the film. Meanwhile, the aformentioned tragic scene lacks a lot of weight beyond the scene's execution (which is excellent) because the character involved isn't developed well-enough.
It's almost as if Miyazaki was so satisfied with the first half of his film that he decided to play the second half of the film very close-vested. If he had given the latter portion of the film more balance in its focus, it may well have turned out better in this department.
Art (9.5/10): Studio Ghibli delivers an A+ effort here. The animation is exceptionally smooth, and the colors are strong and vibrant. The backdrops are grand yet simple, poignant but grounded. The animation work on aircraft in particular is a lot better than some of the work that animation giant Walt Disney has produced.
The only reason I gave this a 9.5 was because Studio Ghibli's designs are very average. This works thematically, but the lack of fantastical creatures to shake up the art design makes it feel like a very standard effort, while the rest of the film's visuals are exceptional.
Sound (8/10): This is a film where the dialog and on-screen visuals can usually carry the weight of a movie. However, a good score that compliments the themes and the story rather than overshadows it can make it that much better. The Wind Rises does just this. Each tune, whether whimsical, nostalgic, or tragic syncs up to the bullet points of the scene perfectly. Never once did I feel the music in a particular scene was out of place. The individual tunes rarely stood out (which is a bit of a flaw), but they served their intended purpose and did so perfectly, so I'm not going to gripe them too much for that.
The film's couple vocal tracks are fitting, but they aren't as effective as the score.
I only saw the English dub for this film, and it was decent. Despite it being generally well-acted, however, the writing doesn't always match up with the lip-syncing terribly well. Not all of the script is smooth, and there are a couple awkward deliveries here and there. Nevertheless, it is well-cast, and captures the spirit of the film well.
Character (6/10): Jirou is an excellent lead. Miyazaki not only comes up with clever ways to expose his ideals, detail his background, and portray his growth, but he is a solid character from beginning to end. He's kind, earnest, and determined, but still doubts himself on multiple occasions. He's overwhelmed from his job sometimes; he doesn't think he'll be able to meet a deadline; he doesn't know whether he's catching the eye of his crush; he smokes often just to keep his calm. Miyazaki often crafts relatable leads, and he does an exemplary job with Jirou.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast pales in comparison. While I liked them okay, and did find their quirks realistic, I found the Italian plane designer, portrayed only in Jirou's dreams, more convincing than Naoko. For a lead heroine who steals the spotlight in the second-half, she just came off as awfully bland. This isn't because she's normal, either, because Jirou is very normal, yet is simultaneously compelling, so I think the central problem is that the film never elaborates why Jirou grows to like her or what specific traits she has. Because of that, she feels like a broad strokes canvas waiting to be filled with color and detail.
As for the rest of the cast, they suffer similar problems (though, they do at least get specific quirks). Jiro's best friend who he tackles much of flight school with has his moments but doesn't come into his own, Martin Short's character is very relatable, but not particularly convincing. The same goes for the one-scene-wonder characters as well. Perhaps the film was trying to convey that sometimes, we don't ever know as much as we'd like about the people who influence our lives, but I don't think it comes off strongly enough here to be meaningful.
Giovanni, as I mentioned earlier, is interesting. Not only does he represent Jirou's ambitions and his reasons for being so determined, it also gives us a peek into the eccentricities of the man, as well as his "anything is possible" attitude. The biggest reason each dream sequence of Jirou's really worked was because of him.
Enjoyment (7/10): I did enjoy watching this film. I loved the lead character and his mentor, the fabulous art direction, the complimenting score, and the well-structured first half of the story.
But, because of how uneven in focus the second half is, how little it made me care about the lead heroine, and how it failed to address it's themes properly . . . I couldn't enjoy this as much as I would. I didn't find the scene before the rolling credits satisfying; I was disappointed by it. At the very least, the lack of development in the second half could have been resolved by a beautiful final scene, but instead, we get another scene that lacks build-up. It was sad for me, especially because this is the last film the wonderful Miyazaki will ever direct.
However, that doesn't mean I stopped caring. I wanted to find out what happens in Jirou's life, I wanted to see where his relationship with his girlfriend left, I wanted to see how the other people in his life played a role, the film did just enough to keep me watching this film, even when development became very sparse.
Besides that, the grand, balanced viewpoint the movie has on ambitions, dreams, and nostalgia is heart-warming and well-executed. It's a hard film for me to watch because of how tear-jerking these things are, but they're given so much respect here by Miyazaki, a man obviously passionate about this film, that they're still effective despite this movie's flaws.
Overall (7/10): The Wind Rises is not one of Miyazaki's better films, neither is it even a great movie, because of its failure to develop most characters aside from the lead, and its lack of resolution. However, the heart-wrenching themes, beautiful art design, and compelling lead character are certainly enough reason to watch this film. For these reasons, it's a film I believe fans of Miyazaki's works, and those who aren't, should watch.
Hayao Miyazaki, one of the most famous directors in the world, has produced many extraordinary works such as Spirited Away and Howl's Moving Castle. Take a look at our countdown of Studio Ghibli films directed by Hayao Miyazaki based on MAL user ratings!