Starring: Hideaki Anno, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Miori Takimoto
Director: Hayao Miyazaki
Running Time: 126 mins
The Wind Rises is a Japanese film that follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed Japanese fighter planes such as the Mitsubishi Zero during The Second World War.
Well, in his final film, Hayao Miyazaki goes out with a bang. It may not be the most breathtaking masterpiece in the history of Studio Ghibli, but it rounds off his amazing career at this historic studio in such a fitting way, bringing together elements of all of the Ghibli films of the past to give a bittersweet farewell to him.
As with every Ghibli film, the animation was astounding. However, it felt as if the animation in this film had a completely different effect to any other of Miyazaki’s. When in the past it’s been used to provoke imagination, horror or just total weirdness, in this film, it makes for a hugely inspiring and literally uplifting atmosphere that creates a delightfully pleasant, yet deep story to follow.
One of the trademarks of Miyazaki is how he finds beauty amidst horror. As you see in Spirited Away, or Grave Of The Fireflies, he details what are often horrific stories, and makes a beautiful and largely enjoyable film out of it, and in this film, set in the pretext to World War II, it’s got a perfect setting to exploit and show off this legendary skill of his.
There’s also a whole heap of references to the films of the past in this film that round off this epic era of cinema-making. Whether it’s a character standing in the back of shot, a subtle recreation of a scene from a previous movie, or a deep cinematographic reference, you can clearly see how this film fits in perfectly with the history of Studio Ghibli.
In terms of the enjoyability of the film itself, it varies throughout. From the start, you become attached to the kind-hearted man that is Jiro Horikoshi, and following his life is a real delight, as although he does design fighters that killed Allied soldiers during The Second World War, this film avoids the politics and lets you indulge yourself in the character.
I found that about 45 minutes in, however, there seemed to be little development of the main character, as he seemed just too nice throughout, which made it feel a little bit too easy. However, that was soon replaced by what became a harrowing side story that creates a dramatic and emotional conflict for Jiro, which makes it all the more sad, but all the more enticing to watch.
Overall, I’ll give this a 7.7, because although it does waver at points, it’s on the whole a hugely enjoyable, historically important and beautiful film that finishes Hayao Miyazaki’s career on a high note.