As a boy, Jiro dreamed of flying, however due to his near-sightedness, he would never be a pilot. He resolved that if he couldn’t fly planes, he would design them instead. Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises tells the fictionalized story of Jiro Horikoshi, who designed a number of Japanese fighter planes during World War II.
And, by the way, Jiro is voiced by Hideaki Anno, Evangelion’s writer and director.
In typical fashion, Miyazaki tells the story with gentle confidence. The film is skillfully and beautifully animated, with wonderful use of blues and greens, depicting scenes of sky and ground. The film isn’t loud or flashy. It has a wonderful sense of quiet dreaminess, an almost surreality. There are a number of scenes where Jiro dreams of flying, or dreams of meeting a revered Italian plane designer. And in the real world, it is depicted with hints of fantasy, an earthquake that ripples the land like water, explosions and fire whose audio composition are of strange, though effective, human vocal origin.
The Wind Rises is a nice, sweet film about the bittersweet reality that the beautiful planes that one designs and builds to soar through the sky must unfortunately be used for war and destruction, to fly off never to return. It’s less of a typical fantastic Miyazaki film like Princess Mononoke or Spirited Away. It’s almost like a live action film, with just enough qualities to merit being made in animation. I don’t see myself watching The Wind Rises over and over the way I could with some other Miyazaki or Ghibli works, however I can see myself a few years down the road saying “You know, that was a nice film, I think I’d like to watch that again sometime”.