The Wind Rises is a film released by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This film has the distinction of being the final one Miyazaki directed before announcing his retirement from directing anime films.
The Wind Rises
Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki
Written by: Hayao Miyazaki
Starring: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Steve Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, and Nomura Mansai
Run Time: 126 minutes
The film takes place over a number of years and leads up to World War II. The story focuses on a young man named Jiro Horikoshi, who dreamed of becoming a pilot as a child, but realized that his nearsightedness prevented him from achieving his dream. He starts having dreams that feature an Italian aircraft designer named Giovanni Battista Caproni, and Jiro decides to pursue designing planes instead of flying them.
In 1923, while traveling on a train to Tokyo Imperial University, Jiro meets a girl named Naoko and her maid. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 strikes, and Jiro is the one who leads Naoko and her maid to safety. It’s revealed later in the film that this is the start of a mutual attraction between Jiro and Naoko.
Admittedly, the early part of the film takes a while to get going. However, these early scenes are important for setting up the story that happens later in the film. In addition to Jiro meeting Naoko, we also see him getting through his time in college in order to be able to pursue his dream of designing planes.
The story begins to move once Jiro and his friend Kiro Honjo graduate from college and begin working at Mitsubishi to design a fighter plane. Over the next few years, Jiro deals with some disappointments and setbacks on the work front, and in 1933, he decides to go to a resort and rest. Here, he has a chance encounter with Naoko, and the two of them realize their feelings for each other. But Naoko contracted tuberculosis from her mother, who died of the disease a few years earlier. Jiro wants to marry Naoko, and she accepts the engagement on the condition that she doesn’t want to marry until she has recovered.
At this point, the film becomes a story of a man who is devoted to both his work and to the woman he loves. But these two sides of his life intertwine when Naoko decides to leave the sanatorium she’s staying at in order to be with Jiro. The emotions Jiro must face with Naoko’s health and the responsibilities of his job are what fuel the drama for the remainder of the film.
In the end, The Wind Rises is a decent film, but it’s not as strong as some of Miyazaki’s other works. It takes the story a while to get going, but after it does, it ends up feeling rushed near the end. But even with the pacing issues, the viewer can still tell that Miyazaki put a lot of heart into this film. The characters are also very relatable, which helps to offset some of the pacing issues the film has.
Jiro is voiced by Hideaki Anno, who is best known as the creator of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. I have to admit that I was unsure about this casting choice, since Anno isn’t known as a voice actor, but I was impressed by his performance in this film. He had the perfect sound for a character like Jiro, and he didn’t sound bad at all.
When it comes to the animation, it looks very lush. I appreciated the color choices used for the film, especially when it comes to the backgrounds. And the film definitely looks like a Miyazaki film, between the character designs and the overall feel of the animation.
When it comes to the DVD release for The Wind Rises, Buena Vista didn’t go to much effort when it came to the bonus features. The only item included was a “Behind the Microphone” documentary, which runs for 11 minutes and includes interviews with the director and the voice actors for the English dub. This was what I have come to expect from the other “Behind the Microphone” features that I have seen on other Disney releases of Studio Ghibli films, with the biggest difference being the acknowledgement of Miyazaki’s retirement from directing feature films.
In the end, The Wind Rises will hold a place in anime history since it’s the final film that Hayao Miyazaki directed before his retirement from feature films. While it may not be quite as strong of a work as Miyazaki’s other films, it should still be seen by fans of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki in order to see his final film.
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