The Los Angeles movie screening scene has been in quite a frenzy as movies are trying to qualify for the Oscar rat-race. This meant that Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ) was going to be on the big screen. Just as a disclaimer, I’m Japanese/English bilingual, so I did ignore all the English subtitles and can’t say much about the English content.
Kaze Tachinu, known as The Wind Rises in the States, is an ode to the generation who grew up with Miyazaki since the 1970s. It’s not filled with magic and intrigue, but brings forth Miyazaki’s never ending love for airplanes (you see cameo appearances of past planes including Gina’s private plane from Porco Rosso), the experience of flying, and the human spirit.
As usual, Miyazaki’s art direction is breathtaking with bright, deep colors for the green grass and brilliant blue skies. This is pretty much a given, so let me move onto the storytelling. Set in the backdrop of post-earthquake Tokyo and pre-WWII Japan, this movie is not gimmicky by having mystical characters to represent certain aspects of humanity. Rather, it’s a look at a human being that is very pure at heart, set out on one mission: to create his legacy as an aeronautic designer within 10 years.
The main character is impossibly pure which makes him interesting to watch as he comes to terms with his planes being used for war. I wouldn’t say that he has a full-out struggle about his role in the war; the emphasis is on his career and the personal price he has to pay. As always with Miyazaki’s works, I was left with that feeling of “the story has just begun.”
Some finer things I noticed: I was surprised with the displays of affection. For the first time EVER, I think we see the closest thing to “sex” as a Miyazaki film can get (don’t worry folks, it’s still a PG movie).
I suppose one disappointing aspect is the lack of challenges the main character faces during his career. He’s naturally gifted and the opportunities seem to come to him effortlessly. He is seen struggling with his moral dilemmas in his dreams, but that’s about it. The lack of strong female roles was also a little disappointing. The main female role was a “princess at the top of the tower” and was simply a support system for our hero.
All in all, this wasn’t my favorite of his creations, but it was still enjoyable and a good tribute to his fans who have followed him for the last 34 years.