As a young boy, Jiro Horikoshi dreamed of flying a plane, but he soon learnt this was impossible due to his poor eyesight. Instead he turns to becoming an aircraft designer. Many years later he is one of the leading designers in his field. However, he still feels something is missing from his life and that is the love of a woman. One day he is reacquainted with a woman who he saved many years previously. They meet again and fall in love, but she soon begins to suffer from tuberculosis. While trying to enjoy their time together Jiro continues to work on his designs for a successful plane to be used during the war.
Co-founder of Studio Ghibli and director of The Wind Rises Hayao Miyazaki has said this is his last film for the studio, his swansong if you will. If this is true then he has left us with a very personal and emotional piece of film making. This true life tale comes with all the poignancy you would expect from Ghibli, it carries the same type of weight as Princess Mononoke did many years ago.
Its subject matter is much more serious in tone than some of the light hearted romps we have seen. Yet that is what makes this film such a spellbinding movie as it deals, essentially, with pure human emotions and how day to day life can be affected by disease, war and other major conflicts.
We were completely enthralled by the beautiful love story between Jiro and his wife Naoko. It pulls at the heart strings as you wish him to be more assertive and ask her to go on a date and then finally to marry him. As they fall in love we could not help but feel happy they had found each other. We even got caught up in wanting Jiro to succeed in his work even though that meant him being away from his love. Engaging on both levels.
The Wind Rises is an adult film; as such the story is very slow and can take a long time to get to the next crucial point. For that it may not be everybody’s cup of tea. It also lacks the humour of some of Miyazaki’s previous works, and at times the mood could have done with being a bit lighter especially as Naoko is overcome with tuberculosis.
What more can be said about Studio Ghibli animation? Once again they manage to make some of the most stunningly beautiful art work in the entire world. There is no doubting their work is the best animated work in film at present. Here it is less cutesy and more human. Everything looking like it should in everyday life, even down to the expressions of the faces. Of course, there is still time to include the odd bit of fantasy work as the film changes into a dream state a couple of times and it reverts back to the Ghibli stylings of My Neighbour Totoro and Porco Rosso.
The Wind Rises is clearly a personal movie and yet it speaks to everyone about the love and working of an everyday couple. With, once again, striking animation Miyazaki has produced a film that will ensure his and the Studios legacy will never be anything less than masterful.