Imagine Walt Disney would still be alive and making movies. Imagine his LAST movie would be in cinemas right now. That would be quite a thing right? Well… That’s what happened last year in Japan. Hayao Miyazaki, the man behind Studio Ghibli says farewell with his last movie The Wind Rises. Studio Ghibli is often called the Disney of Japan (technically Disney is responsible for releasing the Ghibli movies worldwide but let’s look past that).The titles My Neighbour Totoro, Grave of the Fireflies, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away (Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and a Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film) or Howl’s Moving Castle must even ring a bell with non-anime fans, right? Riiiiight…? Anyway. I’m going to write more about Studio Ghibli in a future 101. All you need to know is that Studio Ghibli is huuuuge in Japan and that Hayao Miyazaki just made his last movie.
The Wind Rises was released in Japan in July 2013, but it hit the cinema’s in Europe this month. The Wind Rises follows the life of Jiro Hirokoshi who dreams about building planes. We follow him from his teens to his adulthood. The movie is an adaption of Miyazaki’s own manga of the same name. The manga is based on the real Jiro Hirokoshi and the short story The Wind has Risen of Tatsuo Hori. It is mainly set during the interbellum. This movie proves once again that anime is not only for children. This movie deals with dreams, disappointments, death, cultural differences and war. It gives a good view of that specific time period in Japan, where I as a foreigner didn’t know much about.
As with every Miyazaki movie, the art of this movie is simply stunning. A simple still of the background would belong in a museum. No 3D animations and sh*t. Just beautifully (mainly) hand-drawn 2D pictures. *sigh* This is what I miss in Disney so much. A really nice touch is that a part of the sound-effects is done by voice acting. So when a car rides by you hear a voice saying: ‘prrrrrrrrrrr’. It’s hilarious.
Spoilers are coming here! So, watch the movie first and read further afterwards! There are two things that make this movie so great for me. The first one is that this movie is based on real events, which does not happen a lot in Ghibli movies (I believe only Grave of the Fireflies is not set in some kind of fantasy world, and that one is not made by Miyazaki). The movie starts at the ending of WW-I, we see the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 happen, we witness the pre-WW-II crisis, and we even get a glance of the situation in Germany during the interbellum.
Talking about Germany, they did a good job solving the ‘we speak our own language but we actually speak a foreign language now’-problem. The voice actor begins speaking German and that changes to Japanese quite quickly, so you know they’re actually speaking German. And I was surprised how good the voice actors speak German, since I know how ‘great’ their English pronunciation usually is…
Back to the subject. Not do we only see real events happen in the movie, we also see real persons and real companies. The main character works for Mitsubishi, they name the German aircraft manufacturer Junkers, the main character often has dreams about the Italian aircraft designer Caproni and the main character itself, Jiro Hirokoshi, was a real person. In fact, he is the inventor of the Mitzubishi A6M Zero, a plane that’s responsible for many kamikazes in WW-II. Which brings me to my second point: this movie is incredibly sad.
The movie starts with Jiro realising he could never fulfill his dream of becoming a pilot because he wears glasses. He builds aircrafts that are going to be used of war, but he actually wants to build aircrafts for people transportation. He knows Japan is going into a war that cannot be won (the sentence ‘Japan will burn’ is repeated a few times during the movie) and he marries a woman of which he knows is going to die of tuberculosis sooner or later. You know from the start that everything the main character does is going to end bad. And the main character knows that to, but he’s doing it anyway because that’s what he wants to do. We see someone pursuing dreams that cannot come true. The movie ends with Jiro realising that his great invention only brought pain and destruction, and he’s alone because his wife died. But hey, he achieved his long life dream of building planes and he married the girl he loved! Yay?
What’s also special about this movie is the critical acclaim that it received. It has a strong anti-war message which caused Miyazaki being called a traitor. Anti-war organisations also dislike the movie because it sets the inventor of Japan’s WW-II death-machine in quite a good light. But that’s maybe also what’s good about this movie. It shows two sides of the same coin and it shows that people who do evil stuff are not necessarily evil themselves.
So, If you’re a Ghibli fan, you MUST see this movie. It’s an instant classic and it’s Hayao Miyazaki’s last movie. Try to catch it in theatre if it still in theaters in your county because a tv or computer screen is not worthy of the beauty of this movie.
Final Rating: 10/10