Hayao Miyazaki’s final movie before his dreaded retirement is none other than The Wind Rises. The film takes us into the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man responsible for designing Japanese Fighter planes during World War II. Amazingly enough, Miyazaki finds a way to dance all over the subject of war without being too obvious. Jiro’s story begins when he was a young boy, his obsession: aircraft. He gets his hands on the latest aviation magazines and goes through them no matter what language its in. This fascination with aircraft follows him into adulthood where he finally achieves his dream of designing aircraft but at a cost.
The animation in this movie is almost impeccable which has been customary of Miyazaki but the heart of the story doesn’t rely on the character’s surroundings like it does in some of his other works. Apart from a few dream sequences that Miyazaki uses to transition through Jiro’s life, the bulk of the story takes place in an ordinary Japan. Jiro and the company he works with are presented as normal people with no ill intentions which is something refreshing to see when it comes to WW II stories. Throughout the film, the audience not only gets to experience Jiro’s struggle, they also get a glimpse at Japan’s work ethic during the time. This isn’t just the story of a aircraft designer, it’s the story of an artist who is bound to meet the demands of his government.
The Wind Rises is a great conclusion for an artist like Miyazaki. It is not one of his most imaginative stories, but it’s definitely one of his most emotional ones. Joe Hisaishi’s score was a little familiar but had a special place in this movie. All of the characters were memorable and despite not understanding Japanese, the voice acting was moving enough to stir the audience’s emotions. The only thing that bothered me about this particular film was the fact that Miyazaki would jump from one scene to a dream sequence too often in the beginning. I know this was done to move the story forward (since it’s a chronicle of Jiro’s entire life), but it felt jarring at times. Hayao Miyazaki has left a legacy of stories for everyone to watch and despite his retirement from films, I feel as this isn’t the last story we’ll hear from this talented artisan.
Rockit Raccoon Rating: 8.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes: 83% (as of Nov. 30, 2013)