The Wind Rises is a story of life, war, and love. It is a brilliant final act of Hayao Miyazaki’s career in anime – a swan song about flying and planes that we will remember for years to come. If you are reading this review, I am guessing that you either want to watch this 2013 anime. Or you have watched it and are sitting in awe, looking at the screen and wondering what other viewers think of it. Well, I am here to tell you about my opinion on this masterpiece, analyze it, and tell you about the backstory of the main character who existed in real life!
The film starts quite calmly. The viewers get to see the beautiful interior of the Japanese house of the 1900s, and a studious little boy called Jiro
Horikoshi, who lives in it. (Fun fact: The movie is based loosely on the real-life events, and a memoir of Jiro Horikoshi called The Eagles of Mitsubishi: The Story of the Zero Fighter). Jiro, our main character, is a nearsighted, hard-working student with an obvious interest in aviation and planes. He has a rich imagination and vivid dreams in which he meets Italian aeronautical designer and engineer Gianni Caproni (who also existed in real life!). In these dreams, Jiro begins to realize that because of his nearsightedness, he cannot be a pilot. However, the option of becoming an engineer is still open to him, and he can still pursue the career. After studying hard and excelling in academics, Jiro can get into the University of Tokyo and study aviation. The University of Tokyo is a very prestigious institution for bright-minded young people.
During Jiro’s life, he encounters many troubles and lessons that make him the person he is. The events of the Kanto earthquake in 1923 demonstrate how kind, mature, and organized Jiro is when he saves a girl called Naoko Satomi with her nanny. Jiro also lived through the tuberculosis outbreak, the Great Depression, and World War 2. All of these factors have greatly affected Jiro’s life and mentality. But no matter what is happening in the world, Jiro always has the motivation, ambition, and strength to keep going. That is why I think he is so worthy of respect.
Amidst the events of the world and his career, Jiro finds inspiration in his touching, poignant, heart-melting love, his wife, Naoko Satomi. She was a source of affection, warmth, human contact, and, eventually, a loss for him. This movie has the best, most ideal love representation compared to all other movies I have seen. It depicts it as something so pure and so sweet!
The name of the movie, The Wind Rises (or Kaze Tachinu in Japanese), comes from a poet called Paul Valery. The full form of it goes like this: “The wind rises, and we must try to live.” The movie quotes Valery in the most touching contexts, the ones that made me tear up. Despite the name, the
calm colors, and tone of the movie, the world is pretty dark in it, with unsolved issues and tensions rising.
From the technical point of view, the movie excels. The details are pretty amazing and astounded me – Miyazaki and the crew at Studio Ghibli went all out on it. Every second looks hand-drawn and careful, with bits of CGI added at the best, most appropriate moments. The colors are soft (lots of pastel green and blue in the field scenes), and usually match the tone and mood of the scene. The soundtrack was, like most other Ghibli movies, created by brilliant Joe Hisaishi. It conveys the mood so well, and it is so musical to listen to it and recall all the sweet moments in your life. It surprises me that the movie has received so little recognition compared to other movies made by Hayao Miyazaki. I, personally, have watched plenty of Studio Ghibli’s movies, and “The Wind Rises” easily makes it to my personal top three animated movies.
Unlike now, Japan wasn’t the best country for building airplanes in the 1940s. Historians know that in real life, Jiro Horikoshi was one of Japan’s (and the world’s) most innovative and accomplished engineers. He used his heart and soul in the process of building airplanes, not just math and physics. He was always inspired. Horikoshi built several airplanes that went into mass production in the 1930s. In World War 2, the genius engineer has made his political stance clear in the personal diary he used to lead. It said:
“…We were convinced that surely our government had in mind some diplomatic measures which would bring the conflict to a halt before the situation became catastrophic for Japan. But now, bereft of any strong government move to seek a diplomatic way out, we are being driven to doom. Japan is being destroyed. I cannot do [anything] other but to blame the military hierarchy and the blind politicians in power for dragging Japan into this hellish cauldron of defeat.” (c) Wikipedia.
Hayao Miyazaki is known for creating anime for people of all ages. “The Wind Rises” was targeted at more adult audiences. The topics of war, love, life, and passion were too complex, in my opinion, for the youngest part of the audience to fully understand and grasp. If we compare “The Wind Rises” to any other Studio Ghibli film, like Spirited Away or Ponyo, we will see a big difference in maturity and light-heartedness.
My overall rating is five out of five; I’d recommend the movie to a more grownup audience. The plot is interesting, captivates you from the first second, and holds you until the very last moment.
Written by Chzhen Maria.