The Wind Rises
By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
When we think of animation, certain thoughts come to mind with Disney probably being the first. For decades, Disney has provided countless animated features taking us on journeys through known, and less known, stories. We also think of Dream Works animated films, Pixar…. But one that may be less common, but no less quality, are the films from Studio Ghibli. Particularly those directed by Hayao Miyuzaki. For over 30 years, Miyuzaki has put forth animated features with grand stories to tell, stylized art concepts and lasting impressions. So much that Disney bought the rights to distribute his films stateside with many being released in theaters. Miyuzaki’s most recent, and his final project, The Wind Rises, once again reflects the art of Miyuzaki telling a story with undertones that ring forth.
Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a young boy who dreams of planes, particularly flying them. He’s read all about the famous Italian plane designer, Caproni, and wants to make planes like him. He even has dreams where he meets with Caproni to discuss becoming a designer and making these beautiful planes. But, with his poor eye sight, he knows designing is all he’ll be able to do. So Jiro attends University with the drive to become a great engineer, making planes for all to enjoy. But he’s eventually given the task of designing the Zero plane which was used in World War II.
A good portion of The Wind Rises focuses on Jiro’s thought process and he worked to develop his planes. Not only is his time spent at an actual drawing board, on the testing fields, and looking at the designs of other planes from other nations, but Jiro also fantasizes and dreams about scenarios where he verbalizes his rationale, often with Caproni, about how he can make things better. There is also a subplot of Jiro’s romance with Nahoko Satomi (Emily Blunt), a girl he meets on a train when the 1923 Great Kanto Earthquake occurs. Jiro later marries Nahoko, who ends up with a serious medical condition, giving more conflict as pressure is on Jiro to perfect his Zero plane for the war.
When we think of animated films, we tend to think of a film for children. The Wind Rises is definitely not a film for children. Most of Miyuzaki’s more known films, which were released in theaters, have some element children can relate to. And most of them focus on children in some way. While there isn’t anything offensive or material which should not be seen by children, The Wind Rises is a film geared towards adults. The pace of the film, it’s content and the thought and ideas expressed by the characters will not keep a child’s attention. There also aren’t any cute animal sidekicks or musical numbers (not that Miyuzaki is known for musical numbers) to be found. This is adult content to the core, which was a little surprising considering this is Miyuzaki’s final film.
Miyuzaki still uses the hand drawn style of animation which has become a relic in today’s age, but demonstrates just how effective it can still be when utilized by a master. The backgrounds and scenes come to life with the hand drawn style, like watching a painting by Picasso come to life. With all the advances we have in technology and the beauty that can be expressed with CGI today, there are still some things that a hand drawn canvas can hold higher. The characters in The Wind Rises are full and vibrant, like someone you would meet on any given day, and Miyuzaki fleshes them out creating a deep bond with them. And, despite the slow pace and the deeper adult content of the film, it is still a pleasure to watch and a worthy addition, even if it is the last, to the Miyuzaki art line.
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars