Studio Ghibli has made a lot of movies and most people would consider them to be a big deal. More importantly, their main director Hayao Miyazaki has created some of the best, most financially successful and well known anime movies to come out of Japan!
I have only seen a handful of their movies and only reviewed one before (The Secret World of Arrietty), so I am not an expert on the subject. But since it is the internet, expertness is just a click away.
Either way, The Wind Rises is now most known for being Miyazaki’s final film, finally ready to retire. This was released barely last year in 2013 for like a week to make the Academy Awards and then released for real barely in February. Needless to say, this is another one that took forever to see. But I guess they have no rush since it totally didn’t win Best Animated Picture. Sucks to not go out on a high note, Miyazaki.
Which is probably why he made a movie about objects that go so high.
“Wait a minute,” you might be stating quite boringly. “Does that tag on the bottom of the page after the review is over say Biography? This is an animated movie!” Why yes, person who reads the tags before the review. This is a pseudo biography of Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an airplane engineer for Japan who designed some sweet planes before World War II. Yes, the war where Japan used planes to fuck up parts of America.
It starts with tiny Jiro who wants to one day be a fighter pilot. But with his poor vision, he realizes he would never be allowed to fly one. That is when he does research on plane manufacturers and begins to dream about Giovanni Battista Caproni (Stanley Tucci), an world renowned plane designer who tells him that making the planes is far more exciting than flying them. That planes should be beautiful creations and not war machines. He tells him that and oh so much more.
Well, with hard work and perseverance, Jiro becomes kind of awesome at planes and engineering. He gets accepted into a top program in the field and meets his sarcastic and always joyful friend Honjo (John Krasinski). He eventually gets a job with Mitsubishi where is boss Kurokawa (Martin Short) is a strict tiny man, but one who knows Jiro has what it takes.
Oh, Jiro was also involved in the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923. That is where he meets young Nahoko (Emily Blunt) who, wouldn’t you guess it, has some effect on him later in life too?
Other famous people are Mae Whitman who voices his younger sister, and William H. Macy, who is surely someone important because it is William H. Macy voicing them.
“Less pew pew pew and more zoom zoom zoom!” – Paraphrased movie quote
Given the majority of Miyazaki’s work dealing with fantasy and the bizarre, it is quite odd to find a movie that is set so firmly in reality. I mean, a biography? Set in Japan? The only strange things that really happen in the movie are when Jiro is dreaming, where anything goes anyways. I can’t tell you how factual the film is, but it seems to paint a realistic picture of society and of Jiro. Even the smaller details I appreciated, such as Jiro and Honjo smoking. A lot. Many smokes were had in designing and school, and they didn’t ignore that just because kids might watch it like Disney did with Saving Mr. Banks. He didn’t whitewash history despite Japan’s tendencies to do that (especially from that time period).
As always, the animation is also absolutely beautiful and showcases how great these types of films can be without CGI. Fucking talent right here.
It tells a story about love and reaching your goals, but I do feel like parts of the film tend to drag. I also decided as an experiment to watch it dubbed with the same English subtitles, because sometimes there are big differences. For the most part it kept with the same theme, but there was one scene where it mentioned someone had a kid in the subtitles and completely ignored it in the English dub version. There might have been more stark differences that I missed, but holy crap, did they get rid of a kid in the dubbed version? That’s like animation murder.
It is a fine movie on its own right, but The Wind Rises was clearly not the best animated movie of last year. It is a fine send off for an established director and I tip my fedora in his honor.
3 out of 4.