Review: ‘The Wind Rises’

Director Hayao Miyazaki blows viewers away

photo public domain

When I was a child, I obsessed over every film Studio Ghibli released. I still have fond memories of watching them after school on a rainy days and less fond ones of having nightmares that my own parents would turn into pigs, “Spirited Away” style.

When I learned “The Wind Rises” would be Hayao Miyazaki’s final movie before retirement, I wondered if his movies had changed in quality after his many years as a director. I was pleased to find that “The Wind Rises” is just as enjoyable as his past works.

“The Wind Rises” follows Jiro Horikoshi through his life as an aviation engineer. The film starts with Jiro’s childhood and follows his life as a young man working on engineering projects. While many of Miyazaki’s past films take place in outlandish fantasy worlds, “The Wind Rises” deals with the realistic horrors of poverty, illness and war. Set during World War II and the Great Depression, the film shows how tragedy affected many.

Overall, “The Wind Rises” exemplifies stunning animation, complex characters and interesting plots, all for which Miyazaki is famous. The animators take you from a beautiful dream world to a war-torn wasteland. The sometimes eccentric but compassionate personalities of the main characters, Jiro and his lover, Naoko, make them relatable.

Miyazaki also shows his characteristic ability to invoke the watcher’s emotions. As Nakao contracts tuberculosis and deteriorates, Jiro becomes more respected as an engineer, which prompts a deep sense of injustice.

An otherwise gorgeous film, sometimes “The Wind Rises” moves slower than Miyazaki’s past films. Viewers may be impatient and want it to “get to the point” faster, but it is worth the wait in the end. Though I wouldn’t say it beats out “Spirited Away” or “Howl’s Moving Castle” as my favorite Miyazaki films, “The Wind Rises”stays true to his known and revered characteristics.