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!