The Wind Rises 風立ちぬ
Hayao Miyazki's final film continues his Studio Ghibli's tradition of using gorgeously sumptuous hand-drawn animation to tell a heartfelt emotional story about love, passion and following your dreams, albeit this time grounded very much more in reality - a true story no less - and less of the fantastical, magical elements that hallmarked his past few gems. However, fans would definitely recognise similarity back to his earlier works, before he gave us Totoro, Faceless and Howl's Moving Castle.
Miyazki is a gifted story teller and even without the melodramatic trappings he still managed to convey the romantic core of the love-story from courtship to death. Many times, words are not necessary, just the way he animates the characters, depicts the scene and the accompanied score by Joe Hisaishi is more than enough to tug at the heartstrings.
However, the romance is still secondary to the central plot. It was an interesting glimpse into an era of Japan where many non-Japanese, or even the young Japanese, may not be aware of. Hence, I can see why it did so well in its home country, and I imagine that the viewing experience would have been a lot different if I had watched it back in July 2013. There is a sense of nationalistic pride that pervades the film, but beneath it also lurks a shadow of military and sovereign pride over WWII. Although Miyazki had downplayed that angle, most would know what the Zero Fighters were really for. Nonetheless, it was stressed many times about how things of beauty can also be things of destruction. And looking at it from this angle, what does it really say about the direction that Jiro Horikoshi's life took and the sacrifices that he had made?
Like all good Miyazki's films, there are depth within the simplicity of his hand-drawn animations.
He will be sorely missed!