The Wind Rises Review – Hayao Miyazaki’s Final Directorial Masterpiece

Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) Copyright © 2013 Nibariki - GNDHDDTK All rights reserved. © 2013 Studio Ghibli
Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises) Copyright © 2013 Nibariki – GNDHDDTK All rights reserved. © 2013 Studio Ghibli

The Wind Rises
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki
Studio Ghlibli
Original Release: 2013
NZ Release: 2014

“Airplanes are beautiful dreams.”

Hayao Miyazaki’s final directorial masterpiece The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) is a visually stunning- if morally ambiguous, highly fictionalised, biographical film. The narrative itself is a mix of the life and times of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi (visionary designer of the famed ‘Zero’ WWII Japanese fighter) and Tatsuo Hori (poet and author of the 1938 novel The Wind Has Risen) to create Jiro- our protagonist in this epic, romantic albeit tragic, tale of fulfilling one’s dreams in an ever-chaotic world. With the title of the film coming from Paul Valéry, “The wind is rising, we must try to live.”

There’s a keen blending of the pastoral and industrial- beautiful planes that keenly resemble birds in flight- finding the beauty in almost anything like a simple fish-bone- natural disasters that give off strange, almost mechanical, sounds and sweeping aerial shots. While the film itself is a far cry from Miyazaki’s more fantastical work, key moments see us into Jiro’s dreams where he not only meets his hero Caproni, who serves as a sort of spirit-guide, but where he is able to visualise his creations and goals.

The Wind Rises Directed by Hayao Miyazaki Studio Ghlibli Japan Release: 2013 NZ Release: 2014

In sheer emotion, creative direction, visual brilliance and narrativity- Miyazaki does it again and, according to him, for the last time in the director’s seat. Granted he’s retired a few times now, hasn’t it? It’s a bittersweet moment, knowing that this is to be the filmmaker’s swansong when Caproni tells Jiro in a dream, “I’m retiring. This is my last design.”

While there has been criticism in regards to the way in which the film seems to gloss over the atrocity of wartime events- with the somewhat idealised portrayal of a protagonist who designed planes for use in the second world war. However you do get the sense that these characters are resigned to their fate. Jiro doesn’t want to design planes for war, his dream is just to design planes. However unfortunately his life is that of servitude to a government that seemingly turn a blind eye to their peoples’ suffering in favour of furthering their military.

It’s a beautifully animated, poignant, film that leaves you hopeful about life, love and friendship. It surprises you with tiny moments of humour in an otherwise tranquil story set during a very unsettling, destructive, time in history.

We give it FOUR out of FIVE Silent LOLS.

Madman Entertainment acquired The Wind Rises in September 2013 for release in Australia and New Zealand in early 2014 and have brought the animation back for a limited season. You can catch it at Bridgeway in Auckland, the Lighthouse Cuba in Wellington and the Rialto in Tauranga. Bridgeway is screening both the subtitled and dubbed versions of the film, while the Lighthouse will only be screening the subtitled version.

If you watched the dubbed version you’ll recognise some familiar voices.

English dub cast

  • Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiro Horikoshi
  • Emily Blunt as Naoko Satomi (spelled “Nahoko” in the end credits)
  • John Krasinski as Honjo
  • Martin Short as Kurokawa
  • Werner Herzog as Castorp
  • William H. Macy as Satomi
  • Darren Criss as Katayama
  • Mae Whitman as Kayo
  • Mandy Patinkin as Hattori
  • Jennifer Grey as Mrs. Kurokawa
  • Stanley Tucci as Giovanni Battista Caproni
  • Elijah Wood as Sone
  • Ronan Farrow as Mitsubishi employee
  • Zach Callison as Young Jirō

Original Japanese cast

  • Hideaki Anno as Jiro Horikoshi
  • Miori Takimoto as Naoko Satomi
  • Hidetoshi Nishijima as Honjo
  • Masahiko Nishimura as Kurokawa
  • Stephen Alpert as Castorp
  • Morio Kazama as Satomi
  • Keiko Takeshita as Jiro’s mother
  • Mirai Shida as Kayo Horikoshi
  • Jun Kunimura as Hattori
  • Shinobu Otake as Mrs. Kurokawa
  • Nomura Mansai as Giovanni Battista Caproni

For huge fans, check out The Art of the Wind RisesThe book features art from the film, allowing you a glimpse at what went into making The Wind Rises from conception to production, along with in-depth interviews with the filmmakers.

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