“Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises is a fitting footnote in what has been a remarkable career”





by Nav Qateel

When it comes to watching Anime I’m a bit of a purist, and strongly dislike seeing 3D mixed with standard hand-drawn animation. Give me practical animation over 3D, any time. I also prefer using subtitles when watching non-English-speaking movies, rather than suffering through unconvincing and wrong-worded dubbing. However, I do make an exception when it comes to animated features. I have two reasons I prefer my Anime dubbed, with the first being so I don’t miss any of the action as I struggle to keep up with the text at the bottom of the screen. The second reason is, when done properly, animation is the ideal medium for being dubbing into any language.

The English-speaking version of The Wind Rises–featuring the voice talents of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci–was definitely worth the wait, but now that I’ve seen it thus, I’ll eventually watch it with the original audio and see it the way Miyazaki intended it to be viewed.

The Wind Rises
Written & Directed by
Hayao Miyazaki
Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt
Release Date
21 February 2014
Nav’s Grade: A

The Wind Rises follows the career of Jirô Horikoshi in this highly fictionalized account of how the aviation engineer eventually went on to design the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. The film is based on a comic strip by Miyazaki, and whose 1992 animation Porco Rosso appears to be where he’s taken several cues. Porco Rosso‘s lead character was an Italian WWI pilot named Piccolo, who was in fact based on another aviation engineer, Giovanni Caproni. Here Caproni comes to Jiro in his dreams, offering the young Jiro inspiration, just when it’s needed most.

We see Jiro as a boy whose eyesight is poor, which prevents him from being a pilot but not from designing planes. We jump to 1923 Tokyo, where Jiro is now an engineering student heading back to the city by train when a huge earthquake hits. The way Miyazaki handled the earthquake demonstrated just why he’s considered one of the greatest Anime directors. It was visually breathtaking to watch, and even by the standards of his previous movies, that sequence ranks among his best.

It’s here Jiro would meet Nahoko, the woman he would eventually marry, although romance is delayed for a number of years. Nahoko’s nanny is injured after the train is derailed, and Jiro carries her on his back, getting them all to safety. Jiro then works his way up through the ranks–visiting Nazi Germany–until he’s eventually put in charge of creating his own plane from scratch, and finally into legend.

Miyazaki’s swansong The Wind Rises is a fitting footnote in what has been a remarkable career, and as far as his craft as a feature animation director goes, this is an absolute masterpiece. Like with everything Miyazaki has ever done, the sheer level of skill, care, and attention to detail is an inspiration to anyone who loves Japanese Anime.