The Wind Rises Review

The Wind Rises

I was talking to a mate this week about Hayao Miyazaki’s latest, and indeed final, film The Wind Rises.

Somehow, by the end of the conversation, I found myself flippantly complaining that the film wasn’t set in the future and didn’t contain enough cyborgs.

Let me be clear about something: this is not my official take on The Wind Rises.

Miyazaki, something of an animation god in Japan, has been in the business for over fifty years and is behind modern anime classics such as Howl’s Moving Castle, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away.

So he has certainly earned a little slack.

The director’s latest film tells the fictionalised story of real-life aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi, charting his journey from a bespectacled kid, harbouring dreams of becoming a pilot, to aeronautical engineer responsible for various significant aircraft in the lead-up to World War Two.

His first job, from which he is swiftly promoted, sees Jiro and his mate Honjo working for an airplane manufacturer under the auspices of bizarrely-coiffured boss Kurokawa.

In parallel to his career, Jiro meets, then falls out of contact with, then meets again, then falls in love with a girl named Naoko. It’s your standard boy meets girl stuff.

And that’s the plot in a nutshell.

So, now to tackle the film’s lack of killer robots.

I suppose one of my issues with the film was the presence of large swathes of exposition which bridge the dream sequences, the latter delightfully maximising on the possibilities afforded by the animation aesthetic.

One minute you’re watching fantastic and beautifully-realised airships grace the skies.

The next, you’re watching two grown men discuss the aerodynamic benefits of flush riveting.

Unless you’re an airplane-junkie, even animation can’t extract the boredom from that kind of dialogue.

The film was also a tad longer than I expected. At two hours, the pace drags at times and the most honest parts of your mind will be wondering: how much longer is it going to take the guy to build his damn dream plane?

But I am being extremely petty with these points, and my attitude is born of a lack of pre-knowledge in the subject matter.

The Wind Rises is thematically rich, spanning a major period in Japanese history and covering events like the Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 before dealing with a universal subject: those of us who create, and those of us who’ll use these creations to destroy.

The background detail and animation quality are of such a consistently high calibre that it is easy to take them for granted. This is largely down to Miyazaki’s pioneering efforts over the last half-century, which have set the bar high.

As for the voice cast, well I preferred to catch the Japanese version, but the english voice-cast boasts diverse talent such as Joseph Gordon Levitt, Emily Blunt and everyone’s favourite amigo, Martin Short.

All in all, The Wind Rises is an epic, expansive swansong for an epic, expansive man.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to educate myself in the ways of non-cyborg anime.

Conor Brennan

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Dates ‘n stuff

May 2014