Seldom will I find a film that can cause a mixture of emotions, but when I do, it’s always a Hayao Miyazki film. The Wind Rises is a fitting end for decades of wonderful anime films that have enchanted generations and yet, The Wind Rises also stirred controversy. I will be upfront in this regard: I understand the sensitive nature that is war and the swirling controversy caused in the wake of this film’s release. I’m writing about this film from the sole appreciation of the artistic values and the emotional story this movie told. This film ended a childhood journey for me and it’s a ride that ended on such a beautiful note. I have fond memories of waking up to Kiki’s Delivery Service, My Neighbor Totoro and Princess Mononoke. While being a young mind, I had no forethought as to what I watching. I was enchanted by the moving images and they left only a note of happiness and fondness. I would not experience that joy again until seventh grade. That’s when I got to discover Spirited Away. This was a film that changed my life and it is the sole reason for my love of Japanese animation. It’s hard to think about what would have been had I not passed that test on Japanese history during that late period class in seventh grade.
Now, after many films, I finally come to the end with The Wind Rises and it’s a bitter sweet ending. I should have seen this film when it released three years ago. Truth is I didn’t want that journey to end. I didn’t want the timeless art, the careful consideration for the breathing world it was set in and for the music that inspired it. This film represented everything that I loved about Hayao Miyazaki’s work; from the careful consideration for the attention to detail and for the stunning music. The art spoke volume for the world we were brought into and gave life to the people represented in the movie. The music gave emotion; it gave substance to a world that was already beautiful. The man responsible for the melodies, Joe Hisaishi, is both a man of soul and mind. His work provides so much more for the films I have watched and his music continues to chart my iTunes top 25 most played. The amount of soul that is in each piece is just beyond me. It leaves me utterly speechless and so impacted by the score that I cannot help but become emotionally engaged.
The actual story covers the life, albeit fictitiously, of Jiro Horikoshi as he pursues a life-long passion for aeronautic engineering. The man brought to life the most infamous plane during the Pacific campaigns of World War 2, which in itself was cause for controversy during the film’s release. Through the story we get to know the man as he struggles to follow his dream of building planes that he is proud of. Combating personal feelings versus the military needs of a country backed into a financial corner, Jiro Horikoshi carries on with his passions regardless of the nature that they will end up in. The actual events of the anime are obviously embellished and not entirely truthful, but they still are a foundation from which the animated film follows. Along the way we enjoy a brief glimpse into Jiro’s love life with the enchanting woman Naoko Satomi. While they share a short love, the actual real-life wife of Jiro never died of Tuberculosis as she did in the animated film; this was purely added for emotional engagement. Regardless of murky facts, the film’s story is powerful in its message of pursuing your dreams, no matter the obstacles that you face.
Each character, both fictional and true, has a soul and a profound impact on the audience that’s watching. The fictionalized tragic love between Jiro Horikoshi & Naoko Satomi is just so beautiful. The love that’s shared between two characters, who only know each other for a short time, is just one amazing example. While the relation depicted in the movie is fictionalized, it still is so impacting. Seeing the two shares such tender moments, stuff as simple as them holding hands while he worked, was so emotionally charged for myself that I found it hard to not watch and feel so happy for them. The relations between the other characters are just as fun and delightful to enjoy. The relations between Jiro and his fellow work mates are a well-developed point and frankly a fun part. Granted the characters are nothing without a voice and the English dub cast performed admirably in bringing these characters to life. While I can talk more about the voice work, I have to say that art and music spoke for the characters more than enough. The whole film could have been nothing but music and animation and it still would have been a beautiful work of art.
Granted I feel strongly about this film for personal reasons, but it isn’t something that clouds my judgement. While the voice work was great, it wasn’t anything special. Some of the dialogue seemed stiff or lacking; granted this all could have been just part of the character types. Both Emily Blunt & Joesph Gordon-Levitt did a phenomenal job bringing the love life between both Jiro & Naoko to life and their dialogue shared between each other is something amazing. It’s just the outside dialogue that seemed a bit odd at times. Beyond those reasons, this film is one worth adding to any collection. While I do not physically own the rest of Miyazaki’s films, this is still a pleasure to add to my shelf of personal movies.
The Wind Rises is a powerful ending to a legacy to an animator that I admire for his skills in bringing worlds to life through simple 2D art. It took me three years to finally end my journey with Miyazaki and the films that helped to define who I am today. I encourage anyone still left on the fence to pick this title up. Granted the cost will vary depending on whether you physically buy it or purchase it digitally. I picked mine up for no cost by trading in a few items to my local Vintage Stock, but the normal price for the Blu-Ray/DVD package was 19.99USD before tax. If you have already had a chance to see this last entry, what did you think about it? Where you as emotional involved in the movie as I was? Did you not like it as much as previous Studio Ghibli titles? Feel free to leave us a comment down below, on Facebook or on our Twitter page!