The Wind Rises was released in July 2013, in Japan and February 2014, in North America. It’s an animated historical fantasy directed by Hayao Miyazaki. It has been said that this was Miyazaki’s last film; however, there has been speculation that he’s not retired anymore. I’m not sure how accurate this information is, but if it’s true, I’m glad this wasn’t his last project.
The movie is about the life of Jiro Horikoshi and his accomplishments designing airplanes during World War II. He has dreamed of being involved with airplanes since he was a child, and even though he’s nearsighted and unable to become a pilot, he still joins a major Japanese engineering company to become an airplane designer. The Wind Rises covers a large portion of Jiro’s life while also showing historical events such as the Great Kanto Earthquake, the Great Depression, and Japan’s involvement in the war.
As the title hints at, I ended up watching the subbed version (Japanese with English subtitles) of The Wind Rises. This was not by choice but due to the theater’s poor advertising. Once I knew the movie would be subbed, I accepted and prepared myself for a Miyazaki film. However, there were a few problems. I’ve watched plenty of subbed animes, and I have quite a few favorites that I would not want to watch dubbed because I feel it would ruin the anime. With this film, however, I felt that the subbed dialogue was shortened so the audience was able to keep up. Since there is no option to pause the movie, there were only a few small lines of dialogue to read at a time. There were a lot of quiet moments, and at times, there were people mouthing words, but no sound came out and the audience received no subtitles. There were also no translations for the German dialogue, so I missed out on even more of the story. It sort of took me out of the movie because I had no idea what was being said, and I missed out on some of the sound that I normally get with a dubbed version. This will likely not be a problem for most viewers that saw the dubbed version, and I am planning on watching with English dialogue to see if my opinion changes at all.
Aside from the movie being subbed, I felt the story covered a bit too much in the time it was given. I know that it was about Jiro’s life from childhood to adulthood, but the viewers only saw small portions of each stage of his life. There was not a lot of time allotted to getting to know certain characters at different points. I wish it would have focused more on one time period of his life with hints at other stages. While I appreciated the representation of historical events in Japan, the movie seemed to only show the tragic events to a change in time periods because it was sometimes hard to know how much time had passed. Some of the events had little to no effect on the main character except to show what was happening around him.
On the other hand, I enjoyed the overall theme of the movie, to never give up and keep pushing forward no matter what happens. It was rather encouraging, and watching Jiro succeed at his dream was refreshing. The Wind Rises was beautifully crafted like always, and the visuals live up to Miyazaki’s other films. I always love watching his films because of this aspect. The dream sequences were a nice addition to show how passionate Jiro was about designing airplanes. While the animation was great, there were plenty of humorous moments and jokes about the Japanese airplanes that were funny. I liked how the creators were able to poke fun at the Japanese military and how far behind they were compared to other nations.
There was a romance between Jiro and Nahoko that was sweet, and I would have loved to see the movie focus on when he got involved with her and show his struggle trying to deal with work while being there for her. That brought up another issue I noticed while watching. There was no conflict. I never really knew when the movie was going to end because there was no build up or climax. While there were plenty of small issues, there was never anything to drive the story or the character besides Jiro’s passion for airplanes. There was nothing that was presented to the audience that hindered Jiro from following his dream besides his nearsightedness but that was only discussed during the beginning.
I’m sad to say that The Wind Rises will not be added to my Favorite Hayao Miyazaki Films. I’m hoping that Miyazaki is back from retirement, so he can continue to make wonderful movies. Although, I was not a huge fan of this movie, I can’t wait to watch Miyazaki’s next film.
Feel free to let me know what you thought about the film or if you’re going to see it.
My Rating: ★★★