Japanese Title: Kaze Tachinu
Similar: Porco Rosso
Castle in the Sky
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 2 hr. 6 min.
- Daydream sequences.
- Beautiful art and animation.
- Jack-of-all-trades master of none.
- Gets lost in the clouds.
The Wind Rises loosely follows the life story of Jiro Horikoshi, an aeronautical engineer famed for creating several WW2 era fighter planes. While the film accurately portrays his professional life, his personal matters are fictional – as written in the original novel, The Wind Has Risen. Jiro lives through many of Japan’s great tragedies, from the 1923 Kanto earthquake to the Great Depression and World War 2. Unfortunately, this sounds a lot more exciting than it is.
The Wind Rises is a ‘head in the clouds’ film, which is fitting given the subject matter; however, it doesn’t come down to earth enough for the characters, the core of the story to receive the extrapolation it deserves. When Jiro’s imagination leaps off the page into the clouds, it is beautiful – create a 10-minute piece set to slow piano and violin and you have me moved. But two hours of this, and I couldn’t keep attention.
This isn’t the slow pace’s problem either. Be as slow as you want, as long as it’s engaging. Rather, I felt no emotional connection to these characters, which is strange, for a career-driven plot, seeking that highest achievement, is an easy way to capture my interest. The blurbs also mention romance with his future wife, but that is a tiny portion of the story, much less than advertised. I would have liked to see more of Jiro’s inner character that did not pertain to his job.
Being Miyazaki’s final film, The Wind Rises feels as though it cobbled together several Ghibli films, sent him out in a culmination of the studio life’s work (similar to Jiro’s story itself). Jiro’s boyhood dream of flight recalls Porco Rosso, the airships and lightness remind of Howl’s Moving Castle, whereas the war and earthquake scenes tap (a less painful) Grave of the Fireflies. Yet, it doesn’t accomplish any of these elements to the level found in the aforementioned films.
The Wind Rises is a beautiful film that didn’t affect me as much as the end of a great animation director’s career. Miyazaki, you are a true legend.
Art – Very High
Absolutely gorgeous. When Jiro’s musings and imagination are made manifest, like waking dreams, The Wind Rises looks stunning. Little details fill every background, much of it animated just to add that extra touch of life.
Sound – High
The Japanese VO is superior to the English; however, the dub depicts several foreign languages accurately – Italian, French, German. Even so, I recommend the original Japanese. Using trained voice actors instead of a celebrity cast for the dub would have been much better. The grand adventurous music reminded of Howl and Porco.
Story – Medium
The life story of a Japanese aeronautical engineer. Beautiful when up in the sky, but lacking intensity and energy when on the ground.
Overall Quality – Medium
Recommendation: Try it. If nothing else, The Wind Rises is worth a look to complete the Miyazaki legacy experience.
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)