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Studio Ghibli Challenge #20: The Wind Rises (2013) Anime Movie Review

Wind Rises poster

Another classic from the legendary Hayao Miyazaki.

Not so often, his works tie into specific real-world topics like environment, freedom, war, etc. Just like in his previous works, there is always an important message that needs to be delivered to the audience.

What I love about The Wind Rises is it closely resembles the powerful message that Howl's Moving Castle brings while at the same time being just very chill like Kiki's Delivery Service.

This is about the fictional story of Jiro Horikoshi, a Mitsubishi A5M fighter designer used during World War II by the Japanese Empire.

The story begins with a young Jiro longing to be a pilot but having poor eyesight. In his dreams, he always sees his idol, an Italian aircraft designer named Giovanni Caproni. He inspires him that building and designing planes are better than flying them. After World War I, Jiro traveled by train to study aeronautical engineering at the Tokyo Imperial University. On the train, she meets a young girl, Nahoko Satomi, who travels with her maid. Soon the Great Kanto Earthquake hits, and the leg of Nahoko's maid is broken. Jiro helps carries her to Nahoko's home.

Meeting Giovanni Caproni

After graduation, Jiro and his friend Kiro Honjo were immediately employed at Mitsubishi and assigned to design a fighter plane for the Imperial Army. During a test run, the aircraft broke, and their design gets rejected. Jiro blames the Japanese technology used to build planes as too outdated. Jiro and Honjo were sent to the German Reich to research to make better aircraft. Jiro once again dreamt about Caproni, who reluctantly tells him the world is better with planes even if other people use them for different means.

Testing the first plane

A few years later, Jiro was promoted to chief designer. Sponsored by the Imperial Navy, he designed another fighter plane again but was deemed a failure after it broke in midair. Disappointed, he goes to a summer resort to rest. He meets Nahoko again, and the two share sweet moments. A German visitor named Hans Castorp warns Jiro that Germany under the Nazi Regime will again go to war and needs to be stopped.

Jiro asks Nahoko's father for his blessing to marry her, and the two get engaged. However, she suffers from tuberculosis and decides to postpone the marriage until she completely healed. Castorp was able to escape arrest by the Japanese police. Accused due to his connection with Castorp, Jiro hides in his supervisor's office while he works on a new design for a fighter plane. Nahoko's condition worsened after a lung hemorrhage, and she was advised to take some time in a mountain sanatorium to heal. She escapes and asks Jiro to marry her. His sister, Kayo, warns him that their marriage will end tragically because her disease is incurable. Her condition continued to worsen, but the two were happy together.

Jiro was able to design a new plane, the Mitsubishi A5M. Nahoko returns to the sanatorium and leaves letters for Jiro and her family. The test run of the new aircraft was successful, but a gust of wind distracts Jiro noting that his wife has passed away. The movie ends when Caproni again appears and tells Jiro that building the aircraft of his dreams was realized.

Nahoko and Jiro marry

Even though the story is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi, they made quite a gamble to tell his contributions while adding a touch of Studio Ghibli's creativity. I honestly don't know how famous the real man is in Japan. Maybe Miyazaki wants to tell the world that a renowned aircraft designer should be well-known in the world as a whole.

The story starts really well with the introduction of the main character and the realization of his dreams. We discover his ambitions and desire to prove to himself that he can do great things with enough perseverance and hard work. What I didn't like was the ending. To me, I felt like the story turned very differently, especially the scenes after noting that Nahoko died.

Mitsubishi A5M

There were some memorable and tear-jerker moments in between that added a more dramatic flavor to the plot. But the story was very much predictable in a good way. Aside from that, those flying shots were incredibly impressive. It is maybe one of the best out of all the Ghibli films.

The film was supposed to release back-to-back with Isao Takahata'sThe Tale of the Princess Kaguya, but the latter got delayed for a few months.

Nahoko waves back one last time

This movie was intended to be Hayao Miyazaki's final film before he retired until his announcement that he would do another movie. As much as I want him to do more work for Studio Ghibli, I also think he has done enough. He may start to transition some tips and advice for future anime filmmakers in the company.

I can easily compare that Miyazaki's earlier works are much better than this one. Maybe even legends get rusty, especially after a few decades. I still like the concept and the animation, though. It is a simple yet very straightforward story.

I will give this film a solid 3.5 out of 5 stars.

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