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.
After watching the movie “Kaze Tachniu” one thing was really clear to me. This movie is not for people who like movies Miyazaki became famous for. This movie is for people who either 1.) hate Miyazakies work or 2.) fanboys.
With this movie Miyazaki finally decided to troll the anime community with a big “FUCK YOU” to his audience. I really have to question this olds man behavior since this seems to be his last work, but maybe someday I can look back at this movie and laugh at it, probably like its funny old creator, Miyazaki. Right now I am rather disappointed because I expected
some quality from Ghibli and especially from Miyazaki. Even though there have been some Ghibli movies which also weren’t that interesting for me, I can clearly say that “Kaze Tachniu” aka “The Wind rises” is the worst movie ever made by Ghibli.
This movie clearly resembles the idea of “who needs plot and character if you have beautiful pictures”, because when you look at the plot you will notice that there isn’t any. I can’t help it but I don’t see the chain of random events as plot. And that’s where the movie starts of: randomness. You don’t know anything and I bet you will have problems finding out what is happening. The audience doesn’t know what is dream and what is real? Without knowing the anime throws random dreamsequences onto its audience which only can be noticed when something weird is happening, but on the other hand some events like the early earthquake look unrealistic and weird as well. Is the story as a whole even supost to represent some kind of reality, because it doesn’t feel like reality to me, with all the emotionless characters? It tries to be the biography of Horikoshi Jirouso I guess it’s supposed to be in some kind connected to reality.
This movie also doesn’t have any goal. Just compare this movie to other Miyazaki works: Everywhere you got something to achieve. Spirited Away: main character wants to get her parents back, “Princess Mononoke”: Main character want to get the curse away, Howl’s moving castle: main character wants to get the curse away from her (even though in Howl’s moving chaste there are more interesting story aspects to follow). What have you gotten in “the wind rises”? The main character wants to build planes; at least I think it is that, I mean the story hardly tells me so I can only assume that what it is about. If you say it’s about the main character building planes, then why didn’t the movie revolve around the main character building planes? You merely see him struggle with his planes and you only have a very few conversation revolving about some ideas regarding the plane he is about to build. And half way through the anime when you think the main character should keep on designing the plane, the movie starts to become a cliché slice of life romance story, which is forced and uninteresting as hell, besides being absolutely idiotic sometimes. So why all of this if the movie is about planes? The anime is too short to fill all the things into it: The childhood, which was cut short, the plane building and the unnecessary romance with inclusion of his dreams. As a matter of fact the anime did not finish any of their aspects because everything felt either out of place or cut too short. And all the parts are connected in such a confusing way. Time skips have to be noticed by a deeper voice of the main character, no one else tells you.
Besides the randomness and the constant mix of fiction and reality (which could have been made nicely, with a little bit of explanation, which you obviously don’t get in this movie) and the non existent goal there wasn’t much that bothered me about this movie, but to be honest, there wasn’t much else in the story anyways.
The story also contains some minor plotholes. For example they are often saying some English one liner, something like “nice catch” or something like this, which I would say is a contradiction since this anime takes place before the Second World War and I dont think english was a part of the daily language in Japan back then.
I also have to mention how random and unfullfilling the ending was.
So in conclusion the story was not existent. It was merely a random chain of events with only the main character being the same. The tone changes half way through the movie which just shows the terrible story writing. Also, if you aren’t interested in planes you will probably find this movie just simply boring. Ghibli normally makes everything interesting with their plot but the story here was so bad written that even I who is more into planes than some of the people I have talked to wasn’t that interested anymore.
The characters were the worst part of the movie. Since the story was mainly focusing around a character (so it’s a character based story) a realistically presented character would have been necessary to connect the audience with the story. Well all I can say is: they screwed up. The main character doesn’t have emotions. Is it the fulfilling of his dream or the consideration that his plane is actually responsible for the mass murder of thousands if not millions.. he doesn’t care. And the characters constantly repeat the sentence “japan will blow up”, like it’s a normal thing that happens every day. Hey, idiots you know millions of people are going to die, but yeah.. japan will blow up, so its fine, I guess. And what would they come back for anyways (another great line of the movie)…. Life maybe?.. I mean I don’t know, I never fought in a war, but life seems like a pretty thing to me to come back for.
Ok let’s go away from the ridiculously idiotic character conversations and focus more around the characters. Besides the main character there weren’t many bad characters, but they weren’t that focused so I can’t tell for sure. The main characters plane engineer friend was quite fine, in fact, i would say the he was the most realistic character in this movie. The wife of the main character wasn’t shown that much. The only thing you know about her is: she loves the main character and she likes to draw. All the other characters of the show were even lesser shown. Only the imagination Italian friend of the main character was there pretty often, but only to have absolute meaningless idiotic conversations with the emotionless main character.
What I also have to say about the main character is: They tried to establish curtain personality attitudes in the first couple of minutes into the movie, which felt rushed and not well thought trough, for no real reason. His established sense of justice was never shown in the rest of the movie, if you consider that his planes killed thousands of human the case was even the exact opposite.
The character is also too perfect. He never struggles with anything. He maybe doesnt create the perfect plane instantly, but to the audience he doesnt show any weaknesses, which he should since he is the connection to the audience. And its only realisticly if he as a creator is upset when his creation doesnt work. If the plane he created isn’t working he just stands next to the broken thing emotionless without saying anything.All we see of him fixing his plane is only shallow and unclear. This story should be about building freaking planes, how about you include some technical detail? And he doesn’t feels like an engineer. You see a person with a dream and especially engineers are in my opinion a type of people who wants to be around the things they create. They want to touch the material so they know if it’s the right one, they want to help with the construction personally, not only draw the plan. Maybe in the Japanese culture it is unlikely to do something like this, but creator all over the world will probably act the same way when it comes to their creation.
In conclusion: For a character based story there weren’t any realistic character existent, besides the unfocused friend site character. Emotions, motivations, character development (which is necessary if you have a character based story about a person who gets older or who lives through certain events) weren’t present in the main character and his interaction to other character was most of the time idiotic and not well thought through.
The sounddesign of this movie was also a disappointment. It had a nice openings theme which also could have been heart later on in the background, but my main problem is that there were often scenes with no background noise. They walked through the town and you see a lot of people in the background but you only can hear 1 baby cry. Its not that big of deal but it just feels like there isn’t something right, even if you don’t notice that, your brain does and it makes just everything unrealistic. And when you think about it, it makes everything also very cheap.
A thing that I really like about this anime is its German voice acting. The german spoken by the German characters was besides a bit of a wrong accent perfect, and surly the best german spoken in an anime so far.
The artstyle was as usual very nice. Nothing new, they stick to the old artstlye, but I can’t blame them for doing that because I like the artstlye. Some screens look a bit ridiculous (only very few), but overall it was very nice.
So my final verdict: This movie was terrible. If it wasn’t for the sudden inclusion of slice of life romance half way through and the idiotic ending I could have accepted it as a decent shallow movie about an emotionless character building planes. The anime wouldn’t have had any goal or anything that would have kept your interest but at least it wouldn’t have been so utterly bad. The only thing that makes this movie watchable was the artstyle and maybe the premise, but you sure notice that the premise tricks you into such a flat storyline.
I don’t say you shouldn’t watch it, because if you’re a liker of Miyazakies works you will watch it anyways, and if you’re even a fanboy you will like it. All I say is that you will be disappointed.
Kaze Tachinu is a work of art intended for adult audiences. No, this is not a movie in praise of war or denial of people involved in war. If you want a clear-cut movie which is kind enough to tell you who's the good and the bad guys, then sit back and enjoy watching Pearl Harbor (2001) with a Coke and popcorn instead.
Although the message is quite straightforward, and easy to relate to for people living in uncertain times (including Japan still affected by the 3.11 Earthquake in Tohoku Region), it might not be for other people, especially for very young audiences.
The story, partly
non-fiction, evolves around a young mechanical designer whose dream was to build beautiful airplanes. He ultimately succeeds in building fully up-to-date planes, but which went to war, and none came back.
His personal life is set in Japan when people were facing great uncertainty after the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, and preparation for the war with China, then America, and Britain, and Netherlands, and the Soviets ... He and his colleagues do what they do best and what they are supposed to do under those circumstances: make planes. Just do it.
His life enters into a new stage when he meets again accidentally with the girl whose life he saved during the earthquake. Their beautiful romance and eventual marriage is however overshadowed by her disease (tuberculosis, which was incurable at that time), and war.
If you are expecting a hero in active struggle against a huge evil system, you won't find in this film. Nor would you find a heroine whose decision could be easily understood by contemporaries (or perhaps none other than herself; read also the lyrics of the ending song). However, they are hero and heroines of ordinary real life, at the time when life ended abruptly and wasted meaninglessly. There's even Special Higher Police arresting you for your thoughts and private relations, and public objections to the military controlled government often resulted in death by torture in prison at those times.
If so, how can life can be lived?
This is the question that Miyzaki poses to the audience. It is not a readily answerable question, and you would be tested your imagination of what the hero, Horikoshi Jiro, and the heroine, Naoko, must have thought when they are off screen and out of camera.
Actually, then and now, people's life does end abruptly, and if not properly lived, rather meaninglessly.
When the wind rises, you would have to attempt to live.
"Le vent se lève, il faut tenter de vivre" (Paul Valery, introduced in Japan by Hori Tatsuo- whose autobiographic romance novel is partly incorporated into the movie)
People suffer in time of crisis and uncertainty. Lives are ended abruptly. But you have to live the life that you are given, and use your best effort in doing so in daily life. That is Miyazaki's "last will and testament" (as he jokes) to the contemporary Japanese who are still socially shaken by the impact of the Earthquake, and when growing conflicts with a neighbor is provoking jingoists' calls for arms.
Final words: Kaze Tachinu is a thought-provoking movie with both beautiful and horrifying moments. This might not be my most favorite work (need more innocent fantasies like Totoro and the Castle in the Sky: Laputa), but it is definitely one of Miyazaki's finest works and one that he clearly needed to present now. It is one of his boldest and most experimental.
Ladies and gentlemen... This is it. For over 35 years, Hayao Miyazaki crafted stories and worlds that felt more than just watching animated movies made in Japan but became an experience for audiences to be part of those worlds. Seriously, I love Hayao Myazaki's movies and say what you want about them being repetitive but goddamn, does his movies always bring me a smile on my face. I'll never forget the beauty of the trees and open fields from My Neighbor Totoro with it's giant furry Totoro flying on it's magical yoyo at night while the girls tag along for the ride, the atmospheric and
spiritual world that Spirited Away was, the epic battle of man and nature from Princess Mononoke, the cartoony adventure of Lupin in The Castle Of Cagliostro and I will never forget the engaging world that Miyazaki crafted in Howl's Moving Castle ( That's right, I love Howl's Moving Castle, so bite me). When the news hit that The WInd Rises will be Miyazaki's last film, I did cry but understood his reasonings over this film being his last work since the man is getting old and he can't direct animated films forever. Hell, the man deserves a damn long rest cause he earned it and looking back on all the work he had to go through, it's no mystery why and I wouldn't mind if Goro Miyazaki took over directing and writing duties for his father on possible upcoming Studio Ghibli films. Released back in July 20 2013 in Japan, the film received huge critical acclaim while causing some controversy that I will later talk on the review. After getting out of the showing with a couple of my friends, we were breathless and we had no idea how we could describe the film on words but as for me, there was only one word that describes The Wind Rises.
The Wind Rises is just... just... lovely. To be sincere, words are weak when describing the pure ambitious scope and scale that Miyazaki went with this. He takes old animation tricks that he mastered in the past and just expands on the limitless possibilities that hand-drawn animation can be capable off while giving his damn best into crating a wonderful story of dreams and ambitions and in the end, he pulls it off perfectly in the end. Mesmerizing, breathtaking and ambitious, The Wind Rises is Miyazaki's greatest achievement in his career and a fitting end to his legacy that he created all those years ago.
The Wind Rises tells a fictionalized story of Jiro Horikoshi, an aircraft designer that created both the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircrafts that were used by the Empire Of Japan during WW2 including on the assault on Pearl Harbor. In the film, it tells the story of Jiro's journey into becoming an aircraft designer because he loved planes and he was inspired by the dreams he had about Caproni (his full name his Giovanni Battista Caproni and he is a real life person that worked as an aircraft designer. aeronautical, civil and electrical engineer) and his fascination into creating planes because he wanted man to fly the skies but instead, men uses planes for war or their own selfish needs. Later on, we see Jiro working on crafting the best airfighters that he can come up with and while he had it's ups and downs, he still kept on going and in the end, he succeeded into making the best planes in his career, even it his creations were used for war in the end.
Now, this is where a lot of people took a lot of criticism over the story in The Wind Rises like the inaccurate portrayal of Jiro, the romance between Jiro and Naoko that never happened in real life or the fact that our main character is a man who designed planes to be built as killing machines during WW2. To be honest, I would like to say that I barely cared if Miyazaki took historical liberties while making the movie because it is historical fiction and by that, I mean that it isn't supposed to be accurate to the real life Jiro Horikoshi cause this is his own unique take on the life of the famous aircraft designer while still respecting the hardships that the man went through. Look at films like Anonymous, Amadeus, Prince Of Egypt and Titanic. All those films I mentioned are historically inaccurate but they were still good movies because they understood the importance of that certain famous person and filmmakers do their best into making a film that deals with important people in our human history while taking liberties from the biography of certain real-life people. It's just a movie and people today should stop complaining on how filmmakers handle real life people because in the end, we all know that it isn't real and we will always have books that tell the actual true story of that certain real life person. I also didn't mind the romance subplot between Jiro and Naoko cause for me, those moments with Jiro and Naoko are my favorite moments throughout the entire film. I love their relationship on how they met or just how cute they play off each other. I won;t ruin it for you but man, Jiro and Naoko are cute couples together. Also, the main journey of Jiro himself was engaging and while it is inaccurate, you can see the hardships, effort and confidence that Jiro went through into making his planes powerful and strong despite his creations being used for war cause in WW2 in Japan, they used planes as weapons or to be designed as bombers.
The animation in The Wind Rises is absolutely breathtaking. As if Studio Ghibli movies cannot look any better than this, Miyazaki went balls out on the animation and visual style on the film as the backgrounds look phenomenal, the sheer detail put into the design and colors of the planes (THOSE PLANES LOOK AMAZING IN ANIMATION FORM) or the wonderful atmosphere that the film portrays, The Wind Rises excels in the animation department and offering one of Ghibli's best artistic efforts ever put on an animated film. The animation shines even higher during the fantastical dream sequences that evokes an atmosphere that triggers emotions of happiness, calmness and dreadfulness that few animated films don't rely on. The music by Joe Hisaishi is, once again, pure musical bliss with powerful piano pieces and fantastic use of orchestral music that adds an extra layer of depth to an already wonderful journey of dreams and hardships. Since this is the last Miyazaki film, the English dub team had to make sure that they would be up for the task on making the best English dub version for The Wind Rises and surprise, the English dub is perfect in every way. Thanks to the wonderful effort of ADR director Gary Rydstrom, who directed the dubs for other Ghibli films like From Up On Poppy Hill and The Secret World Of Arrietty, and it's well chosen cast, the dub is now one of my favorite dubs I've ever had the privilege to listen to. Joseph Gordon Levitt is perfectly casted as Jiro as he delivers a strong performance that not only he proves that he is a great actor but that he can expand into different territories of performances aside from doing live-action projects. His lines and emotional deliveries are wonderfully executed and I can't wait to see Gordon tackle on more animated projects in the future. As for the other roles, Emily Blunt was beautifully casted as Naoko and adding a sense of tenderness and warmth into the role while Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caproni and his Italian accent is spot on, Martin Short was hilarious as Kurokawa and all the other actors including William H. Macy, Elijah Wood, John Krasinski, Werner Herzog, Mae Whitman and Zach Callison were all wonderful in their roles. Hands down, the best English dub that Disney ever put on a Studio Ghibli film.
The Wind Rises is a another masterpiece from the great Hayao Miyazaki himself and a farewell to one of Japan's greatest film animator and director of all time. There's not much else to say about the film but that you should go see it now cause it is one animated film like no other and it looks like we won't get another one quite like this.
"The wind is rising. We must try to live" - Paul Valéry
Kaze Tachinu is a Studio Ghibli film that was released in 2013. So, at the very least we can expect it to look pretty. It was directed and written by Miyazki Hayao. And he rarely turns in a film that isn't good, although he has written some average ones. I've honestly heard mixed feelings on this one. Some people claim that it's the pinnacle of his work, which would be a sight to see. Others say it's not all that interesting. So, this film festival week, let's take a look and decide.
The narrative of this is a bit odd. It combines the professional accomplishments
of aircraft designer Horikoshi Jiro with the personal life of the protagonist from the short story The Wind Has Risen. So, we get a story that partially focuses on our young protagonist and his dreams of designing aircraft and that partially focuses on tragic young love.
Therein lies the biggest issue with the film. The elements don't really tie together well. The tragic love story barely connects with the story of this young man following his dream and neither one ever impacts the other. The film is just very clumsy at trying to tie them together. Another issue is with the whole tragic love story stuff itself. It doesn't have much going for it beyond very generic elements that every tragic love story seems to have. Even the connection betwixt the leads is pretty tenuous. The film is also quite clumsy with its attempt at having an anti-war message. Most of it consists of characters having kind of stilted, foreboding dialogue with occasional glimpses of World War II imagery. Which is odd since Miyazaki can incorporate anti-war rhetoric seamlessly into a narrative. At least, he did with Nausicaa. So why is this attempt so awkward?
The positives for this film are all with Horikoshi's professional life. There's a charm to the dreams that inspire him. Seeing the obstacles he has to get past is interesting. As are the encounters that inspire him to greater heights. If this had been the entire film, it could have had a strong story.
The big problem with the characters is much the same as the series. The whole tragic romance segments have no real sense of personality for the characters. You could literally change the names and character designs slightly for those segments, present them separately and you'd never guess from the characterisation that they were supposed to be a part of the same whole. So, we have uneven characterisation that's different based on whether you're watching the professional segments or the tragic romance segments.
This is one area where I can completely give the film credit. The artwork and animation are absolutely gorgeous. The dream sequences have some nice, creative imagery. The backgrounds are vibrant. It is, no question, a lovely looking film.
the vocal cast is mostly fine. There are two exceptions to that. The first is Stephen Alpert, the actor for Castorp. His delivery is pretty stilted and awkward. The second is the actor for our protagonist, Hideaki Anno. There are two problems here. The first is that he's really miscast. Usually Studio Ghibli is good at finding capable actors who are roughly the age of the characters they're voicing. In this case we have a young man who sounds like he's in his sixties or seventies. There's also an issue with the acting itself. It's very emotionless and wooden. When the script calls for an emotional moment, the character's facial expressions have to do the acting for him. The music is pretty decent. It's definitely not Hisaishi Joe's best work. He's done better scores for Ghibli films. At least a half dozen times.
There really isn't any.
It's probably obvious by this point that this isn't my favourite Miyazaki film. It certainly doesn't compare to Nausicaa, Spirited Away or Mononoke Hime. While there are aspects that work, it also feels like two different works clumsily forced together. It's an okay film, but certainly not one of Ghibli's better offerings. My final rating for it is going to be a 6/10. Tomorrow we'll continue film festival week with a look at Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki.
As a big Miyazaki fan, I wanted to see The Wind Rises in theaters to show my support. I went into The Wind Rises with the expectation that it would be a decent film; certainly not another "Spirited Away", but still a movie worth watching. I was let down by some aspects of the movie, but it was still worth watching.
Story: The story seems to suffer the same problems as many biographical movies; trying to tell a story of over 20+ years in 2 hours. Some aspects of the story (such as how certain things in everyday life influenced Jiro's plane designs) are mentioned, but
never fully explained due to time constraints. However, Jiro's relationship with Naoko is shown as a slow, gradual build that is very satisfying to watch. Pacing is definitely an issue in this movie.
The dream sequences are where Miyazaki's trademark fantasy and amazing plane elements come into play, and are some of the most inspirational parts of the movie.
Art: As usual, the backgrounds are Ghibli-gorgeous. So much detail and color are put into the backdrops that you cannot help but be awed by the talent in this studio. However, there was a problem with the character animations. When someone was standing still, they seemed to twitch back and forth between 2 animated states. It made everyone look like they were nervous or shivering. I'm not sure if that was intentional or not, but it was very distracting and disappointing.
If you are a sucker for plane porn and shiny things, this movie will not disappoint. The planes are some of the most beautifully animated things I have ever seen. Not only are their flight animations smooth, but the fantasy planes also have beautiful designs. I am not a plane aficionado, but I could still appreciate the time and effort put into each scene.
Sound: The plane sound effects being made by human mouths was an interesting choice. It didn't bother me, but I could see why some people might not like it; watching a gorgeous plane on-screen accompanied by "bbppp-bbbpppp-bbbbpppppp" noises is a strange combination.
I watched the English dub, and overall it was enjoyable. JGL was an interesting choice for Jiro; he did a decent job of trying to inject some emotion into his character, but kept a "scientific mind" about him. There were some instances where the dub synchronization was off, but for the most part the delivery was spot-on. Disney's dubs of Ghibli films are always a mixed bag; big-name actors are used to draw in audiences, but may not necessarily be experienced in a foreign-language dub.
As always, Joe Hisaishi's score was beautiful. However, there are no memorable musical themes from this movie. It serves as excellent mood music, and is very well-perfomed by the orchestra.
Character: I found the character of Jiro to be a bit stoic. Perhaps it was becuase he was an engineer, but he didn't show a lot of emotion through the movie. Victories, disappointments and love were not that far from each other in his reactions. For this reason it was hard to relate to Jiro. Once his relationship with Naoko progressed, he became more open and easier to read. The supporting characters are very memorable and really help to bring a sense of humanity to the story.
Overall: The movie was enjoyable, but as Miyazaki's last directorial feature, it was a let-down. So much could have been improved that it leaves a sour taste in your mouth. If you are a big Miyazaki and/or Ghibli fan, I would recommend going into this movie with an open mind, and don't set your standards too high. If you are not a Miyazaki/Ghibli fan, you could definitely skip this movie and not be missing much.
TL;DR 5 words/phrases to describe The Wind Rises
pretty planes, twitchy animation, nice music, feels, story pacing issues
As with my review of Ghost in the Shell, it's redundant to say that anything Ghibli or Miyazaki cranks out is good. Crank is even too harsh a word for the bliss that Ghibli films usually bring. I haven't seen many of them but The Wind Rises captivated me through and through, which unlike many films is the norm for Miyazaki, and as he has since retired I can confidently say this movie is a wonderful swan song to close the book of his career to. In addition to the rarity of me liking something and holding it up as good, the film had that
magic touch that actually choked me up and warmed my usually jaded heart.
Part of why I liked it so much is that I can identify so much with Jirou. I don't know anything about engineering, but the motif used throughout the film of fulfilling one's dreams in a manipulative greed-stricken world made the story not only tragic in the end but one of the most compelling stories I've experienced for a long time. Every nuance, interaction, and injections of characterization and effort put into the film wrap up so nicely to slyly nod to Jirou's dreams and aspirations, even if it sets them up to tragically be knocked down. My only problem with the story is that the ending comes more abruptly than I had expected, and very sad things happen in a very fast interval, and that gave me little time to react before I quickly started crying. Embarrassing huh?
The art of course is beautiful and there's not much more to say about it than it's paired so well with the lighthearted but bright symphonic tracks throughout the film. Each note from the music seems light and listless, as if it's the wind itself that the film likes talking about so much and brings the audience through the sunny clouds and dark streets that parallel the bright dreams with the world's darkness intertwined throughout the story. For the most part the art and sound sandwich the story well and there's not anything negative I can say about either without nitpicking or saying that all Miyazaki's characters look very similar. Like I said, it's true, but nitpicky, as there's so much else to enjoy.
The characters along with the setting they're put in are really where the film shines. Each character adds their own dynamic to the film from Jirou's altruism to Kurokawa's endearing grumpiness. Sometimes the film won't directly tell you who a person is or their purpose, and I occasionally had guesses and inferences as to who they were and why they were present. I wanted to know more about Naoko's backstory, where she was going at the beginning of the film and if she's presumably aristocratic. Castcorp, even if he's supposed to be surrounded by mystery as a nazi officer or possibly sympathizer didn't add a lot, but was also interesting enough to the point that I wanted to know more about him, and more from the relationship between Jirou and his sister as well. But other than minor holes not being filled for me, the characters all work in their own way to be characters, even if their whole story isn't given, they add to the central story of Jirou, and work well in that sense.
So I'm not sure if you could tell but I really enjoyed this film. It makes me sad not only that it's Miyazaki's final film, but also that there's controversy around the film in Japan with people calling it propaganda. I always love it when a piece of writing or film is made for a reason and I have no idea why the simple message of "dream and don't kill people" is so hard. But that's why the film is so great and so important and was such a hit for me. The Wind Rises is funny, bittersweet, adorable and dark all at the same time, and it has such a simple yet resonating message that makes it a beautiful and important little film.
This is the one film Miyazaki wanted to make. We can feel his passion and his love of the subject but, sadly, it is his weaker film.
Allow me to explain. There were many interesting and powerful moments during the first half of the movie, and you can truly grasp the famous Ghibli magic. However, the second half is disappointingly lacking. It all comes down to characters. The characters are not well done. At all. As a result, the weaker part of the film was, without a doubt, the romance. Miyazaki is very good at creating romance but, here, it feels way too forced. It fell
completely out of touch. It evolves way too quickly, and the romantic interest is not very likeable. Overall, it was too corny, and downright awkward to be taken seriously. Some of those scenes must be seen to be believed. They are really that... weird.
This dragged-down the movie immensely. Unfortunately, it affects the overall enjoyment of the movie. But this is not to say that the movie isn't any good. It is expertly crafted in many areas, notably animation and music as it is custom with Ghibli. Some scenes were breath-takingly beautiful, and the OST is amazing. It's a shame the story and especially the script aeren't up-to-par with other Miyazaki movies.
It may seem harsh to judge tthe romance in this movie this stronly, but it's really problematic. Especially since this movie is clearly his last. But don't let my opinion change the fact that I recommend this movie. It treats the subject of war, innovation and aviation with love and care. Melodrama aside, I can't help but feel that the movie could habe been a masterpiece. It is what it is. A work of art brought down by weak characters.
Miyazaki is my favorite director, and one of the greatest. This movie is a testament to his strengths and his weaknesses. He clearly struggles to bring his A-game in a realistic, less idyllic movie. I believe this is the result of the overall tone of the film. It is serious and doesn't make use of the awe-inspiring imagination of his creator. Nevertheless, I encourage you to go see it, and if you look past its flaws, you will surely discover a pleasant and bittersweet end to an incredibly illustrious creer.
Firstly, I am a History Major in college; secondly, I positively adore Studio Ghibli films. This is probably the perfect blend between Studio Ghibli's masterful storytelling and animation and historical events. Even greater than Grave of the Fireflies, I would argue... you can see I may have a certain bias.
The manner in which the story is told is incredibly imaginative, bringing with it all of the Studio Ghibli flair that long-time watchers are accustomed to. Being neither fully fictional or non-fiction, unlike many Ghibli films, it was interesting to see what their portrayal of Imperial Japan would be (I hear Miyazaki took a lot
of heat for it). While the story focuses almost entirely on Jirou, you can really feel the political undertones throughout the movie. While it's certainly not Miyazaki's magnum opus, the story is nonetheless engaging and quite believable.
Art & Sound:
It's up to the ridiculously high standards of Studio Ghibli. The music was very orchestral and enhanced every scene; it was a delight to listen to. I watched the Japanese version with English subs, and I thought that the voice actor for Jirou was a little nasally for his character, but that was the only complaint I can think of.
Jirou is a very well-made protagonist; he really fits the whole eccentric genius role (I really enjoyed his gigantic glasses). Naoko, the female lead, looks exactly like every other main female in Studio Ghibli movies (i.e. Nausicaä or Princess Mononoke), and she acts like them too. There are quite a few memorable side characters, and they all seem fleshed-out and additive to the plot. You'll most definitely be attached to everyone by the end of the movie.
The whole movie went down smoothly, as I suspected it would under the master craftsmanship of Miyazaki and his team at Studio Ghibli. I can't complain about anything, it's a sleek and refined movie that couldn't really be improved in any meaningful way. If you're a Miyazaki or Studio Ghibli fan, this movie is not to be missed, as it's Miyazaki's last.
I've always been a huge fan of Miyazaki ever since I first saw KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE, but for his supposed swan song, I honestly don't know what to think. Perhaps because of this, I cannot rate it as highly as his other films. Don't get me wrong, THE WIND RISES is not a bad film at all. It's as colorful and beautifully animated as any Ghibli movie, and of course Joe Hisaishi's music is sublime. There are also moments that truly do recall Miyazaki at his most imaginative. But if you're expecting another movie filled with action, wonders, and magic as his other movies, you
will probably be disappointed, because THE WIND RISES is as far removed from the rest of Miyazaki's output than even his less fantasy-oriented pictures. Rather than aiming for the exuberant joy and wonders of LAPUTA, TOTORO, the dark, epic spectacles of MONONOKE, NAUSICAA, and even the surrealistic SPIRITED AWAY and HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, this movie is mostly down to earth, with only the occasional moments of pure spectacle. It's also his most "adult" film to date; perhaps because of this, THE WIND RISES is also cursed with the misfortune of being Miyazaki's least accessible film.
Although financially successful in Japan, THE WIND RISES has not been without its share of detractors, particularly Miyazaki's target audience. Controversially, the protagonist of this story is Jiro Horikoshi, the man who was responsible for creating some of deadliest airplane bombers during World War II. In fact, this film is very loosely based on his account. Naturally, one would expect that Horikoshi would be portrayed as a tyrant considering the outcome of his crafts. But in a rather daring and almost dangerous move, Miyazaki presents the man as a gentle, ambitious soul who simply wants to achieve his dream of flying rather than as a psychopath bent on destruction.
Speaking of dreams, the most memorable sequences in the movie are those which involve Jiro's fantasies of being airborne. In one such scene, an extensive, dialogue-free prologue which opens the film, we see young Jiro wake up from his countryside home, climb to the roof and board an elaborately customized craft, soaring across the Japanese countryside to the strains of Joe Hisaishi's typically melodic score. This sequence comes to a crashing end when a massive zeppelin and shadowy blob monsters straight out of HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE and SPIRITED AWAY descend upon the boy and render him unconscious. Otherwise, the rest of the "dream" scenes (which are interspersed throughout the languidly paced story) feature Jiro interacting with the charismatic Italian aircraft designer Caproni. "Airplanes are beautiful dreams," intones the air designer to the short-sighted Jiro who he refers to as "Japanese boy", "Engineers turn dreams into reality."
Otherwise, the remainder of THE WIND RISES follows Jiro as he grows from a not-so passive school boy who spends time reading books by his hero into an adult who becomes an aircraft designer instead of a pilot due to short-sightedness. This is a forty-year cycle of a journey that unfolds in over two hours. Regrettably, this is also one of the film's biggest shortcomings: not only are the scenes involving Jiro's growth less intriguing than his flights of fancy, they slow the movie's momentum to a snail's pace. Miyazaki is no stranger to producing movies that push over the two hour mark, but THE WIND RISES feels even longer than that, with most of the scenes being slow, drawn-out conversations between Jiro and his colleagues.
Aside from the aforementioned "imagination" bits, the only other major highlight of THE WIND RISES happens about a third of the way through in which an earthquake literally tears through Japan and causes a passing train to derail and crash spectacularly. This is arguably my favorite moment of the movie because it showcases Miyazaki at his most visceral. The execution of the tragedy is powerfully conveyed through the dramatic staging and animation. Aurally, this scene is impressive as well; rather than the natural sounds of earth rumbling and winds, Miyazaki instead chooses to employ a wordless, monotonous "chorus" of voices to substitute for both. The effect adds an emotional, organic layer to the scene, especially when we witness the tragic aftermath of the tremor.
Also intriguing is the sequence where Jiro and his friend Honjo travel to Germany. Not only does Miyazaki treat us to splendid tours of the aerial wonders of these massive "war machines", we get to see the characters speak German. Much later on at a hotel, Jiro meets Castorp, a German-accented defect who eerily denounces Hitler and, perhaps rather ominously, predicts the downfall of Japan.
Alas, such moments are tragically undercut by the film's much more languid second half, which shoehorns a tragic love story involving a gentle painter woman whose internal clock is ticking. I don't know if it is just me, but neither Jiro nor his lover Naoko come across as particularly compelling characters, and perhaps because of this, we are given little reason to care about them. A "courting" scene in which Jiro attempts to fly a paper airplane to Naoko's balcony is inspiring, but sadly that's about as interesting as this love story gets.
More detrimental, unfortunately, is the dub by Disney, which is surprisingly disappointing considering I've always loved the studio's English work for Ghibli's films, the performance I found to be the weakest being that of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Now in all fairness, Joseph is not eccentrically cast, but I just didn't find him compelling as Jiro; to me he sounded like he was giving a stiff, monotonous performance, which is disappointing considering that many of the leads in Disney's other dubs (eccentrically cast or not) have done well. Apparently in the Japanese version (which I haven't seen), Jiro's voice actor (ironically, former Miyazaki animator Hideaki Anno -- now well known for NADIA and EVANGELION -- turned in a similarly ineffective performance. I don't know it's just me or if it's the style of the character, but either way, this is, I'm sorry to say, the dullest performance in any Disney dub I've ever listened to. Some will argue that he's trying to emulate Anno's take, which, IMO, has the potential danger of coming across as a carbon copy instead of a genuine performance, especially if the original was apparently not as good as it could be. Emily Blunt fares a little better as Naoko, but the love scenes between her and Levitt are shockingly ineffective: however much emotion Blunt gives, Levitt's distressingly wooden performance sadly nullifies any bit of chemistry between the two. Too bad, because with better voice direction the love story could have been less draggy than it comes across as.
One actor I was particularly looking forward to hearing was Mandy Patinkin, having enjoyed his rollicking turn as a pirate in the controversial but still grossly underrated CASTLE IN THE SKY dub. Sadly, his turn here is nowhere nearly as entertaining; his role is just to be a down-to-earth boss with zero comic timing. He more or less plays it well, but I was still disappointed, considering his previous work. The rest of the actors also consist of names such as Darren Criss, Elijah Wood, and DIRTY DANCING's Jennifer Grey, but to be honest, they didn't really stand out to me all that much, and their parts are so scanty that one wonders why they were cast at all. One would think that more experienced voice actors would take the job instead (the first Ghibli dubs had a much better balance of that).
Even though I consider this to be the worst of the Disney-Ghibli dubs (NOTE: by that I do not mean it is an outright BAD dub; it's not, it's just average, at least to my ears compared to their others), there were three performances I truly did enjoy. Martin Short plays Jiro's curmudgeonly cantankerous, "short" sized boss, Kurokawa with gusto and humor, breathing a lot of much needed zest into the dub. This is the sort of charismatic, interesting type of character audiences should expect from an animated production, Ghibli or otherwise, and Short effortlessly steals every scene he's in. Just as good is Mae Whitman as Jiro's sister, Kayo. Again, being blessed with a great role to begin with, she provides a lot of spunk and energy to the role and makes her arguably more sympathetic than her dull brother. The great Werner Herzog also gets to have a lot of fun as the German-accented Castorp, especially when he sinks a drunken brawl in a lively tavern scene. Finally, Stanley Tucci is TERRIFIC as Caproni, providing the character with charisma and a charm which is impossible to dislike. The Italian accent he provides is very appropriate as well. On that note, the use of accents for the different characters is also a plus, as is the use of children from the opening scenes. If anything, these assets prove that even an inferior Disney Ghibli effort can still have its share of saving graces.
Perhaps another major problem I have is the ending; while the fate of the love story isn't hard to guess, but Miyazaki instead chooses to close the film with yet another dream sequence. Instead of coming across as a genuine conclusion, this last scene feels strangely unresolved. What happens to Jiro after the scene? What became of his career? Sadly, the movie doesn't answer any of these questions, and as such, the denouement doesn't feel like a genuine conclusion. It's almost as if Miyazaki ran out of creative juice and decided to stop his movie on an uneasy note. PONYO was especially guilty with this practice, and it's unfortunate that the same is true here as well. Even MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, PRINCESS MONONOKE, and PORCO ROSSO, abruptly as they ended, had a sort of genuine resolution that this lacks.
Still, take my complaints with a grain of salt and go see THE WIND RISES. Even if it is by no means Miyazaki's best film, the moments that truly excel really show that a genius such as Miyazaki never ceases to amaze, whether at his most vigorous or his most down to earth. On a final note, it's a shame that this will be Miyazaki's last film; the man has left behind a legacy of richly animated treasures that many have not taken notice of at first but are gradually finding audiences. He will be missed.
The Wind Rises is a fictional biographic film depicting the life of famous Japanese aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi and is also notable for being the final film directed by Hayao Miyazaki before announcing his retirement in September 2013. 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.
A biopic following a airplane designer from youth to the death of his wife and end of WWII, skipping the rest of his life. TWR is heavily fictionalized to the point where 'biopic' is questionable, which raises the question: if the point is not to depict Jiro Horikoshi's life, by adding an entirely fictional romance and death from tuberculosis, and entirely skipping over the last 37 years of his life, then what was the point, and why did Miyazaki choose animator & director (but not voice actor) Hideaki Anno to voice the protagonist?
A good hint comes from the title of the excellent accompanying documentary of
the process of making TWR and Studio Ghibli's other film-in-progress, _The Princess Kaguya_: _The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness_. Indeed, TWR is more about dreams than planes or war: it starts in a dream, ends in a dream, and the fast cuts without any dissolves or other signals or markers of time produce a dream-like effect where one never knows when a scene is set or when in the future the movie has jumped to or if one is in one of the several dreams and what in the dream is real or not. (For example, the dream with Caproni features an absurd looking multi-story multi-winged flying boat passenger plane which probably most viewers assumed was some sort of 1920s-esque parody, but the prototype of the Caproni Ca.60 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caproni_Ca.60 was very real.)
The documentary, to some extent, focuses on the human cost of making anime: it is a notoriously brutal career path which burns out animators, requires endless hours of painstaking labor from hundreds of people, and destroys any kind of family life. Stories abound of animators making sub minimum wage or sleeping 4 hours a day, and Miyazaki's son has written of his anger with his father for putting his anime career above his family and hardly being a father at all. (Although Goro Miyazaki comes off as a bit of an ass in the documentary himself.) All to produce some stories and entertainment, mostly for children, of dubious social value.
It is no surprise that Miyazaki and Anno have often expressed doubts about the value of their careers: why do they make anime? Then again, did they ever really have a choice? However much Miyazaki might vow after completing a movie to never undergo the insane ordeal again or to retire, he winds up making anime again. (As indeed, he predictably has after vowing TWR would be his last, and is working on an anime, _Boro the Caterpillar_, even now.) They can't stop, won't stop. In the lottery of fascinations (http://slatestarcodex.com/2013/06/30/the-lottery-of-fascinations/), they drew a cursed ticket. In the same way, Jiro (and it's interesting that the other 'Jiro' that instantly comes to mind is from _Jiro Dreams of Sushi_, which likewise examines the question of a normal life vs the demands of an obsession leading to greatness) 'simply wanted to make a beautiful plane'; but in that era, and even now, there is little civilian market for a fast maneuverable single-person plane - only the military needs such a thing. It was easy to make the scientist/engineer's Faustian bargain with the military: you can get the funding you need for what you want... as long as it has military applications, and you don't mind selling your soul or having to witness the consequences. (Admittedly, most who make that bargain don't see it backfire as quickly and spectacularly as the Japanese did.)
The intended conclusion, presumably (given the bizarrely abrupt non-ending), is that expressed by Baron Caproni, when he analogizes war-making planes to the pyramids of Egypt: as terrible as the human cost to build them was, their greatness and immortality were worth it, and the world is the better for them. One can quibble about the facts there (archaeologists apparently regard the pyramids as built by a largely voluntary labor force in the Nile's off-season where agriculture was not possible, which given Malthusian conditions might not've affected standards of living) but the analogy falls flat: I don't wind up convinced that there was anything particularly beautiful about the Zero, much less any enduring eternal beauty which could justify contributing to so many unjustified wars. Jiro and the other should have, like the proverbial Chinese scholars, declined to serve an evil emperor and retreated to the hills to await a better regime to serve while they tended their gardens. Even after two watches, the rationale comes off as weak despite all the soap opera histrionics. And while the use of Anno as a voice-actor is an intriguing art-mirroring-life choice, ultimately Anno is something of a disappointment in going through the movie in a pleasant monotone. (You can also listen to Anno voice-acting in the _Evangelion_ Addition audio-drama, and to interviews of him like _Hideaki Anno Talks To Kids_ to confirm that he voices Jiro as himself, essentially; I'm always surprised how high-pitched Anno's voice is for such a relatively big guy.) Indeed, the plot and pacing overall are deeply unsatisfactory, and I think I liked the movie considerably less after rewatching it, as all the flaws became much more obvious on a rewatch: frankly, it's kind of boring! Actually, I would have to say that the documentary about TWR, _Kingdom of Dreams and Madness_, was much more interesting than the movie itself...
So the message falls flat. What was good about it then? I would say: the opening dream-flying sequence is indeed lovely in the same way as _Ponyo_'s ship & water animations; the earthquake sequence, though brief, is also good; there are occasional parts of interest in the plane designs and the Caproni dream sequences. Overall, I would rank this as above _From Up On Poppy Hill_ (with its egregiously awful plot twist) or _On Your Mark_ or _Only Yesterday_ (and maybe _The Cat Returns_) but well below the Miyazaki classics like _Castle of Cagliostro_ or _Whisper of the Heart_ or _Ponyo_ etc.
Such as most of my reviews for anime I'll start off by saying I saw a gif from this movie on tumblr and once I realized that it was a NEW Studio Ghibli movie, of course I was going to watch it without question. I'm pretty sure I didn't even read the summary of the movie before I dove in, that is how deep my faith in Studio Ghibli runs. Though the movie starts out on a strong note, it tuckers itself out after a short period of time.
There was a red flag within the opening scene when during a crisis (i won't spoil what
happens), the main character is helping people out, which was good because it showed us he is a decent guy- HOWEVER we aren't shown anything he is thinking. During the most major scenes (though beyond this there isn't many) we are given no hint as to what the protagonist is thinking or feeling or anything! The lack of insight into the protagonist's head proves to be a very frustrating and reoccurring problem throughout the film. A protagonist should have stronger emotion and bigger reactions to things or else they're no different from an NPC in a video game. It just sets itself up to be boring.
It's from my understanding that the story is inspired by a real man, which wouldn't be so bad had the man been...well...interesting. When you look into fact versus fiction in this movie, a chunk of it didn't really happen which only begs the question why they didn't just choose somebody else to base it off of or just make a fictional work and scrap the biography idea entirely. I don't want to come off as mean but this movie was genuinely boring. Boring, boring, boring. The only thing to really grab onto in this movie is the romance, which is kind of uninspiring and short-lived. The wife is sick, very rarely speaks and isn't really given that much attention. She seems to just be a tool for sadness' sake and not actually a fully fleshed out character as I'm used to with Studio Ghibli. When she does speak its usually something important, but still, not much dialogue. In fact, this movie as a whole doesn't have much dialogue at all.
There is a montage in the middle of the movie that goes on for an extended period of time where nobody talks and it just lapses through the protagonist and his future wife falling in love, as well as some random dude who says all of 2 lines and then isn't seen ever again for the rest of the film. He was a sore thumb for an otherwise pleasant (albeit long and kinda boring) romance montage and didn't serve any purpose aside from "encouraging the main character to fall in love" which didn't really make any sense considering how little we knew about this character before he ultimately disappeared. With such little dialogue its can be very confusing to figure out what is going on throughout the film.
The animation and sound in the movie is, much like every Studio Ghibli movie, extremely well done. In fact I'd go on a limb and say The Wind Rises has the best art in any movie I've seen since Spirited Away. This doesn't make up for the boring atmosphere and lackluster plot but it didn't hurt it any more or any less. Overall I'd say that this movie's art should have been put to better use, perhaps on a more interesting and compelling storyline instead of the life of an extremely average man who doesn't really do anything and barely even speaks.
To recap: animation/sound is stellar, reoccurring problems include: lack of insight to the main character, lack of dialogue, and lack of Ghibli magic. The film is heartless and I wouldn't really recommend it at all though with its reputation I imagine you'll watch it anyway to try and prove me wrong. Good luck!
I'm going to use a perspective of analysis that seems outlandish with regards to this movie. Firstly I'm going to just truthfully outright declare two things: 1. The art is bloody beautiful and pretty much that's the main thing you come here for 2. The melodramatic scenes and the whole plot involving Naoko was, quite frankly, trite and unneeded. But I'm going to add a corollary to the second declaration: The plot involving Naoko was trite and unneeded BUT it promised something amazing, which will be lost to a whole lot of people because Miyazaki is smarter than his own good but not quite as
smart in making a work of 'intellectual' control as opposed to 'imaginative' control.
Now I consider this as Miyazaki's most ambitious project. This too is a very outlandish statement to make considering what we've seen of Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. I make this statement because it is Miyazaki's first attempt to tread on a very untreaded ground, and unify it in such a way that it goes past his previous efforts. We know what makes Miyazaki tick: childhood and nostalgia, environmentalism, pure sprawling imagination and creatures of great variety and form. It is thus a very great effort of this man, who has been so set in the world of magical fancy and has carved his kingdom in that world, to suddenly turn to an attempt at social realism. It is even more of a great effort because he aims not just to make it a social realist tale but also deal with much greater universal themes that he has ever done before. No I'm not talking about Dreams, which is definitely easy ground for him, but about Time and Fate and Humanity.
This needs to be unpacked because in actuality Kaze Tachinu is an amazingly complex work, much more so than just a simple wartime biography or a romance plot.
When I watched this in the cinema with my friends much were confused by the events unfolding. To characterize the general mood of the film I have to point to a statement made by the not so flattering review of the movie on Roger Ebert’s (god bless his soul) site: “but it only leaves a mild taste with little impression and lots of disappointment”. First there’s a dream, then a waking, then a few scenes of Japanese life but suddenly a segue into another dream, and then the historical Great Kanto Earthquake happens. This ‘floatiness’ is even more apparent once Naoko returns into the picture. Cuts of romance mixed with strange scenes at strange hotels mixed with engineering exploits. Plots within plots within plots that gives the movie a strange and choppy feeling. “Ah!” I thought to myself. Choppiness and dreamlike floating through scenes with little proper connections is a sheer sign of Impressionistic/Symbolist playwriting. For example go read Spring Awakening (The original play not the damn awesome musical; can be found on Gutenberg) and see how it’s a strange jumble of schoolboy musing and character interactions slowly melding together into a fragmented yet cohesive work. Another example would be Debussy’s Pelleas et Melisande, an opera which seems to always escape the audience. “And the whole point of symbolist playwriting is to give that dainty dreamlike feel! The merest touch! This so exactly ties in to that huge Dream theme that runs through the movie!” I was content with this analysis for at least the first part of the movie, until the hotel scenes began.
A sudden love interest! And (Horrors of horrors) a sick girl plot as well! Was the great master finally senile? Did he dare to contaminate his work on the sheer passion of engineering and flight with a sappy melodrama? How could this be? “It’s love!” the quote from Spirited Away came to my head. No it isn’t! It’s strange and shoehorned in like a wrong puzzle piece! Well of course I knew about the fact that the title was based on a Tetsuo Hori short story about a sick girl but it just seemed wrong on all accounts. The master is able pull off a 2 to 3 hour grand epic yarns but falls flat on his face when trying to pull off the kind of subtle naturalism that marks great short story writers such as Chekhov and Joyce. (I know from reviews apparently some of you were actually touched by the romance scenes and did not see it out of place at all. I’m not going to try and dispute these since it involves varieties of personality and disposition which are unfathomable but, as I said, this is the movie seen through my own lens.)
So we’ve cleared those two points: the Oneiric atmosphere (plus) and the strange inclusion of a melodramatic sideplot (minus). But just leaving it at that neither proves my thesis that this is Miyazaki’s most ambitious work nor does it show what I mean by ‘intellectual’ control versus ‘imaginative’ control.
The alternate point of attack begins now. We have to bring ourselves to look at one of the greatest German novels ever made: The Magic Mountain. A basic summary of the plot. Hans Castorp, a young and naïve man, visits his cousin in a Sanatorium for 3 weeks (one of the treatments in the Sanatorium involves the patients rolling up in a warm furry rug), only to suddenly fall sick and, due to strange circumstance, stay at the place for 7 years which then afterwards World War 2 begins. The bubble-world of the Sanatorium seems a different reality altogether for Castorp and he comes across a great many events and characters. He falls in love with woman in the Sanatorium and meets the whole gang of patients, each with their own ideas on life and Time. The Magic Mountain is that pinnacle of ‘intellectual control’ which stands directly in opposite with most of Miyazaki’s career. Every page is laden with meaning and infinite depths, so much so that even though it gives the appearance of a linear Realist plot its true nature is everything else. Just a simple thing like the temperature readings of the main character holds vast symbolic value within the entire framework. Every single character is supposed to represent a school of philosophy. Nothing is what it seems.
Miyazaki has an entire career of the most beautiful surfaces and while many of his works contain messages none really seek the depths of Mann, at least until now. This is the part where the structure, which seemed before so disjointed and dreamlike, comes into question. In Mann’s Magic Mountain one of the most important themes is Time. He meditates on this in one of the early chapters “Excursus on the Sense of Time” where Castorp thinks about how time changes with reference to certain events in life. For example a person forced into an act of banal routine normally perceives Time slower than usual but when the routine continues on for a vast amount one finds Time speeds by. Likewise people say ‘Time flies when we’re having fun’ but these moments of fun are so etched into our minds that they have greater ‘continuity’ in our memory than the routine, making our lives seem stretched rather than condensed. This chapter (along with Borges’ refutation of Time) was so resonant within me that I began to frequently question my experience of Time and found it surprising how easily this concept, which we think unconsciously and intuitive we have so much in control over, falls away when it undergoes serious scrutiny. Ask yourself periodically what connects the last minute of your life with this minute and feel that distance as you wonder whether the ‘you’ in that last minute can be considered the same as the ‘you’ in this minute. Also feel surprised at how reality seems to resonate all around you during times of pain but when you look back you can’t have even a proper measure of what you were feeling then, even if that pain was only just seconds ago. Some philosophers believe that the ‘you’ of the past is dead and nothing much connects him to the ‘you’ of the present.
Okay digressing on Time aside one of the great structural accomplishments of the Magic Mountain is how its very structure of events ties in to this theme. In the Magic Mountain the first hundred or so pages are an account of the 3 weeks Castorp spends before deciding to stay for 7 years. Afterwards, as if the thesis on routine condensing life has been proven, the novel stretches and stretches and 7 years seem to pass by in a flash of pages. This is one reading of the structure. Another analysis says that it’s structured in the form of ‘ascending and descending a mountain’ (this thesis is hella complicated to stuff in this review). We then ask ourselves how Time is treated in Kaze Tachinu. While the first parts of the movie seem to skip by in a relatively steady pace: Childhood to Earthquake to Great Depression to Engineering, the sudden re-entry of Naoko at the hotel seems to freeze Jiro’s progression altogether. Thereafter the rest of the movie seems to slow down and spaces itself out between the few months the Lovers spend with each other. It is exactly this time period though that the buildup of events towards World War 2 happen, as characterized by Mr Castorp’s talk with Jiro. This part of the movie too is also where the narrative most breaks down into a pure and strange amalgamation of impressions: the German song, the sudden confession, the paper airplane scene, the fairy-like marriage sequence, the Sanatorium. The earlier part of the movie was unified by the theme of Jiro’s pursuit of his Dream and seemed more ‘grounded’. The later parts feel like we’re flying on a paper airplane through the clouds; it feels wholly unreal. This is great and strange because we’ve been drawn into works of Miyazaki’s works of imagination as if they were our own world yet when he tries his hand at Realism and mimesis it holds an even more dreamlike quality than his fantasy works. This, to me, is a great act of intellectual control because it turns Naoko into something with the same symbolic value as a Mann character, one of the many patients in the Magic Mountain. (Though some may think of it as a sparse flurry of influences and ideas clashing together, and maybe I’m overreaching here and in actuality that is exactly what happened: Miyazaki went insane. I will still hold firm to my own thesis though because I don’t believe that a person who has read the Magic Mountain, which I assume Miyazaki has, and delved into the amazing things it does with narrative and structure can make things ‘unintentionally’ anymore. That work, like Joyce’s Ulysses, has that sort of effect on how a person treats stories and Literature)
The problem now is what exactly that symbolic value is. I have many theses. She’s representative of the degradation of Japan, as in she’s a stand in for Japan. Another is that she has the same value as Jiro’s dream (not saying she’s literally just a dream but in the first place the whole atmosphere of the work is so dreamlike that we aren’t even sure if Miyazaki intended to make an ‘unreal biography’ in the first place. As in is he treading postmodernist ground and screwing over mimesis altogether? Is Naoko both a postmodern lampoon at cheap romances and also the illusory nature of ambition?). I have no either if its brilliant or not but we never quite catch her true nature. This is Miyazaki’s ultimate fairy-work because it seems steeped in questions and illusions. It shows signs of him trying to delve into great intellectual control for once instead of just great imaginative ability but he doesn’t quite make it.
This isn’t just a review but I’m making it my final elegy for the master, who’s renouncing his art, and whose movies I have watched since childhood. Somewhere in my head I am imagining a man who is a combination of both Miyazaki and Mann, who knows the control of a scholar but who also has that childlike love for pure beauty and imagination. Then I remember who is voicing Jiro Horikoshi in Kaze Tachinu, who has been a long disciple of Miyazaki and yet has treaded his own amazing ground in another work. The Master and his Disciples and their enduring passion in giving us something extraordinary through their commitment to art
There has been a mix of opinion on this film, some loved it, most liked it, others felt very strongly against it, and the rest thought it was "meh". It might be because it is his last film, or my own bias, but I personally felt Miyazaki outdid himself here.
Famous for creating children's films that can even inspire awe and wonderment in the older audience, Miyazaki-sensei flipped the script here, not so much that it felt out of place, but enough to make it astoundingly different. I was a bit sad it would be the man's last film, but I went in expecting to come
out feeling good, like I do with most of his films. Man, oh man, was I not prepared for the absolute emotional wreckage this movie would cause.
One thing you have to know is that this is based on a real person. So, of course, there is a much stronger sense of reality in this movie. Without getting too much into the details of the story, overall the plot revolves around two of the protagonist's romances: airplanes and Naoko, and the two contrast each other in a big way. On one hand is Jirou's love for aircraft, which he's had since childhood, and is often depicted in daydreams where he converses with his idol Caproni, because it is what it represents – dreams. Jirou keeps his ambition alive and burning, his talent and passion is recognised, and it greatly shows off the marvel and awe Miyazaki orchestrates so well.
Then, on the other hand, is Jirou's love for Naoko, which is tough and faces complications. You will notice it is this relationship which is most affected by historical events, and basically, real life issues, because that's what it represents – reality, a theme that Miyazaki has not touched so deeply upon before. But he pulls it off beautifully here, the gloomy drama conflicts with the lighthearted merriment and blends so amazingly. And this entire idea is pulled of so well with the characters, all of which are so animated (both literally and figuratively), and for the most part, optimistic and enthusiastic. Despite all the problems and calamity surrounding them, Jirou and Naoko are always smiling, and everything is so disgustingly beautiful and gorgeously tragic.
The art style is typical Studio Ghibli, which, like it did in Grave of the Fireflies, shows that it can adapt to any situation. The music, of course, is brilliant. Joe Hisaishi can be relied on to work his musical magic to perfectly capture Miyazaki's ambitious vision, with a unique and addictive melody that the rest of the score works around. And I cannot express, in words, the feelings the ending song made me feel. The uplifting context and beautifully sad music coupled with Yumi Matsutoya's soothing vocals and powerful performance at the end so perfectly encapsulate the tone of the entire movie that it can only be described as a match made in heaven.
It's hard to point out one aspect and say "that's what makes the film" because everything makes this film. The well-paced and well-executed story, the memorable cast, the breathtaking visuals and audio, the overall ambience and mood the movie delivers, and the behind-the-scenes context around it, everything comes together to create this magnum opus. Miyazaki's swan song is another masterpiece, but one unlike any other before it. Grab your tissues and watch it.
I found the story very refreshing even though it is different in tone from Miyazaki’s earlier works. There are flaws, especially if you factor in the political brouhaha that comes with over-romanticizing a history of war, violence, and death. This is one of the most difficult Miyazaki films for me to embrace, but in that respect, it is also one of the most complex Miyazaki films out there. It deviates so much from his usual linear, small span narrative and childlike aspects. This is a mature plot with some difficult questions that is befitting of the swan song of one of animation’s most beloved
figures. With this work, it’s as if Miyazaki is giving the children he usually make films for a glimpse into the adult world and the twisted mess of trying to bring childhood dreams into adult realities.
The most satisfying part of this movie is that it’s about flying. If you’re familiar with Miyazaki’s work, you’ll know he uses flight, wind, and the sky in all of his films. So for his last big bang to be all about the theme of flying and the metaphor of flying is just so fulfilling for a fan like me.
As I’ve already mentioned, the narrative is not restricted to the transient period of childhood but stretches for years into marriage and death. I really like this about the film, because it felt as if Miyazaki was communicating his own journey to us. I would give the plot a ten, if I didn’t think the plot was a little too light-hearted. I know that is Studio Ghibli’s trademark style, but I just can’t see pass the history. The young Japanese men went into war with huge smiles on their faces. The engineers worked for future of Japan with pure hearts and nationalistic pride. Those two aspects made my viewing experience feel eerie.
The art is what you would expect Ghibli art to be like. Watercolor backgrounds with a soft pastel pallet that reminds you of summer, even when it’s depicting winter. The humans are more cartoonlike than most other Japanese animation styles. The clothes look like soft marshmallows. Though, I would say that the backgrounds are little disappointing. Remember the expansive fields of Nausicaa of the Wind? The lush forest in Princess Mononoke? The romantic western architecture of Kiki’s Delivery Service and Howl’s Moving Castle? The grand waterscape of Spirited Away and Ponyo? Yup, not here. At least not with the same intensity. The film focuses more on the characters, but that is not to say there aren’t one or two breathtaking landscape scenes. Just not a memorable amount.
Good. I don’t know jack about this topic, sorry. All I can say is the music is good and the voice acting includes Hideaki Anno, the NGE creator, so it’s pretty cool. There’s also a really cool sound effect during the more tragic scenes, especially the earthquake one. It’s that low “hum” that echoes throughout, when you hear it you’ll love it.
Hate to say it, but the characters are flat. Jiro is one of the least inspiring Ghibli leads ever, but he’s supposed to be the allegory for inspiration. If had to put my finger on it, I would say Jiro looked lost even though it seems as though he has a goal: to build the best airplane. I say this because he just seems concerned with building airplanes, what they’re used for isn’t really factored into his “passion.” Noako isn’t complex and just fulfills her role as the tragic lover who gives the audience something to cry about while Jiro create war machines that will massacre masses of people and send his own people flying to their deaths. Quite honestly, I found Honjo’s attitude to be more interesting and befitting the lead of a film with this topic. Kurokawa is a great comedic relief and father figure. Caproni is the perfect etheral accessory character that you see so often in Ghibli films. Think “The Baron” from the Cat Returns, except Italian and with more questionable morals.
Well, it’s a movie that ends, not a movie that begins or one that is career defining. I truly liked it, and I was drawn in. Comparatively, I can’t say I care for it as much as other Miyazaki films, but objectively speaking it still stands above the whopping majority of animation films out there. Its very story oriented movie. The characters are devices that move the plot and are themselves not all that moving. You have to see this film with a focus on the big picture and not the details, which is contradictory to many of other Ghibli films. What are the big questions? Artists and engineers are the pioneers of creativity, but are they morally obligated to bear the burden of their ideas? In that respect, the child’s imagination pioneers the adult life, but if the reality of adulthood isn’t what the child wanted, should he have dreamt in the first place?