Review: The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) is the latest and supposedly final movie from the Japanese master Hayao Miyazaki. Inspired by World War II engineer and plane designer Jiro Horikoshi famous for his design of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane, and loosely based on the 1937 short story by Tatsuo Hori ‘The Wind Has Risen’ .

The film follows Jiro Horikoshi, who as a child wished to become a pilot, though due to his poor eyesight it wasn’t possible.  However a meeting in a dream with Giovanni Battista Caproni, an Italian aeronautical designer helps him refocuses his attention to studying as an engineer and becoming a plane designer.  While working as an aircraft manufacturer at Mitsubishi, Jiro finds that he now has to balance his love of designing beautiful aeroplanes and his other love, Naoko Satomi, a young lady who Jiro met on a train ride to Tokyo.

While the visual quality of any Studio Ghibli movie will leave you in awe and The Wind Rises is absolutely no exception, it is the quality of the unique and mind-blowing sound effects that will amaze on this particular outing. Miyazaki wanted to record all the sound effects using human voices, rather than machines which leads to a wondrous result. Despite not being able to do the effects personally, Miyazaki’s idea made it into the movie and lent itself extremely well to scenes such as the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. The eerie growl that came with every movement of the earthquake sent a shiver down my spine and it gave us a glimpse of the terror that the characters felt. With music provided by the marvelous Joe Hisaishi and the 1973 song Hikouki-gumo by YumiMatsutoya as the theme, the soundtrack is definitely a memorable experience.

In a departure from the usual all-ages friendly movies we have come to expect from Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, The Wind Rises is without a doubt a more mature fair and while children are welcome with a PG certificate, the subject matter is definitely geared towards an adult audience. The film has gained critical acclaim worldwide, as well as criticism from many, for using a war-plane designer as a protagonist. Miyazaki has made his anti-war feelings known before and war is definitely not the focus of the movie, but rather Jiro Horikoshi’s inspirational words “All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful”.

You can tell that a lot of love went into making this film and as usual, it's boasting an all-star cast in both Japanese and English language versions, audiences can be assured of the quality regardless of which they choose to watch. The Wind Rises not only has emotional depth and beauty, but it also has the powerful and awe-inspiring soundscape which makes this a truly memorable film.