For over 35 years, Hayao Miyazaki crafted stories and worlds that felt more than just watching animated movies made in Japan but became an experience for audiences to be part of those worlds. I love Hayao Myazaki as a filmmaker and say what you want about his movies being repetitive in it's themes of war & nature but goddamn does his movies always bring me a smile on my face. I'll never forget the beauty of the trees and open fields from My Neighbor Totoro with Totoro flying on it's magical yoyo at night while the girls tag along for the ride, the atmospheric and spiritual world Spirited Away with a young girl learning to cope her obstacles while saving her parents from a terrible curse, the epic battle of man and nature from Princess Mononoke, the cartoony adventure of Lupin in The Castle Of Cagliostro and I will never forget the engaging world of magic and technology Miyazaki crafted in Howl's Moving Castle (That's right, I love Howl's Moving Castle, so bite me). When the news hit regarding The WInd Rises being Miyazaki's last film, I did cry but understood his reasonings over this film being his last work since the man is getting old and he can't direct animated films forever. Hell, the man deserves a damn long rest cause he earned it and looking back on all the work he had to go through, it's no mystery why and I wouldn't mind if Goro Miyazaki (Miyazaki's son who worked on Tales From Earthsea when the author of the book refused Hayao the blessing to direct the film) took over directing duties for his father on possible upcoming Studio Ghibli films. Released back in July 20 2013 in Japan, the film received huge critical acclaim while causing some controversy I will later talk about on the review. After getting out of the showing with a couple of my friends, we were breathless and we had no idea how we could describe the film on words but as for me, there was only one way to describe The Wind Rises.
The Wind Rises is just... just... lovely.
To be sincere, words are weak when describing the pure ambitious scope and scale Miyazaki went with this film. He takes old animation tricks he mastered in the past and just expands on the limitless possibilities hand-drawn animation can be capable off while giving his damn best into crating a wonderful story of dreams and ambitions and in the end, he pulls it off perfectly in the end. Mesmerizing, breathtaking and ambitious, The Wind Rises is Miyazaki's greatest achievement in his career and a fitting end to his legacy he created all those years ago.
The Wind Rises tells a fictionalized story of Jiro Horikoshi, an aircraft designer who created both the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero aircrafts used by the Empire Of Japan during WW2 including on the assault on Pearl Harbor. In the film, it tells the story of Jiro's journey into becoming an aircraft designer because he loved planes and he was inspired by the dreams he had about Caproni (his full name his Giovanni Battista Caproni and he is a real life person who worked as an aircraft designer, aeronautical, civil and electrical engineer) and his fascination into creating planes because he wanted man to fly the skies but instead men uses planes for war or their own selfish needs. Later on, we see Jiro working on crafting the best airfighters he can come up with and while he had it's ups and downs, he still kept on going and in the end, he succeeded into making the best planes in his career even if his creations were used for bloodshed.
Now, this is where a lot of people took a lot of criticism over the story in The Wind Rises like the inaccurate portrayal of Jiro, the romance between Jiro and Naoko that never happened in real life or the fact our main character is a man who designed planes to be built as killing machines during WW2. To be honest, I would like to say I barely cared if Miyazaki took historical liberties while making the movie because it is historical fiction and by that I mean it isn't supposed to be accurate to the real life Jiro Horikoshi cause this is his own unique take on the life of the famous aircraft designer while still respecting the hardships the man went through. Look at films like Anonymous, Amadeus, Prince Of Egypt and Titanic. All those films I mentioned are historically inaccurate but they were still good movies because they understood the importance of certain famous historical figures or events and filmmakers do their best into making a film that deals with important people in our human history while taking liberties from the biography of certain real-life people to either make it more dramatic or tell the story but from a different point of view. It's just a movie and people today should stop complaining on how filmmakers handle real life people because in the end, we all know it isn't real and we will always have books or history that tell the actual real life stories of certain historical figures. I also didn't mind the romance subplot between Jiro and Naoko cause those moments with Jiro and Naoko are my favorite throughout the entire film. I love their relationship on how they met or just how cute they play off each other. I won't ruin it for you but man Jiro and Naoko are cute couples together. Also, the main journey of Jiro himself was engaging and to the film's credit you do get to see the hardships, effort and confidence Jiro went through into making his planes powerful and strong despite his creations being used for war cause in WW2 in Japan, they used planes as weapons or to be designed as bombers. Miyazaki's portrayal of Jiro is about paying respects to the man for working hard in his dreams to become a designer for planes and considering Miyazaki himself loves aircrafts, he does a fantastic job into portraying Jiro's importance to planes without ever going melodramatic on his career or life.
The animation in The Wind Rises is absolutely breathtaking. As if Studio Ghibli movies cannot look any better than this, Miyazaki went balls out on the animation and visual style on the film as the backgrounds look phenomenal, the sheer detail put into the design and colors of the planes (THOSE PLANES LOOK AMAZING IN ANIMATION FORM!) or the wonderful atmosphere the film portrays, The Wind Rises excels in the animation department and offering one of Ghibli's best artistic efforts ever put on an animated film. The animation shines even higher during the fantastical dream sequences evoking an atmosphere that triggers emotions of happiness, calmness and dreadfulness few animated films don't rely on. The music by Joe Hisaishi is pure musical bliss with powerful piano pieces and fantastic use of orchestral music adds an extra layer of depth to an already wonderful journey of dreams and hardships. Since this is the last Miyazaki film, the English dub team had to make sure they would be up for the task on making the best English dub version for The Wind Rises and surprise, the English dub is perfect in every way. Thanks to the wonderful effort of ADR director Gary Rydstrom, who directed the dubs for other Ghibli films like From Up On Poppy Hill and The Secret World Of Arrietty, and it's well chosen cast, the dub is now one of my favorite dubs I've ever had the privilege to listen to. Joseph Gordon Levitt is perfectly casted as Jiro as he delivers a strong performance that not only he proves he is a great actor but expand into different territories of performances aside from doing live-action projects. His lines and emotional deliveries are wonderfully executed and I can't wait to see Gordon tackle on more animated projects in the future. As for the other roles, Emily Blunt was beautifully casted as Naoko and adding a sense of tenderness and warmth into the role while Stanley Tucci was fantastic as Caproni with his Italian accent is spot on, Martin Short was hilarious as Kurokawa and all the other actors including William H. Macy, Elijah Wood, John Krasinski, Werner Herzog, Mae Whitman and Zach Callison were all wonderful in their roles. Hands down, the best English dub the team put on a Studio Ghibli film.
The Wind Rises is a gorgeous masterpiece and a farewell to one of Japan's greatest animator and director of all time. There's not much else to say about the film but you should go see it now cause it is one animated film like no other and it looks like we won't get another one quite like this. Even if the studio outdid themselves with another project, none will match the emotion and beauty of the story about a man who dreamed of building planes for mankind to fly with the clouds.
"The wind is rising. We must try to live" - Paul Valéry