If you’ve never seen a film by Hayao Miyazaki, then you are missing out. Known for many amazing anime films produced by Studio Ghibli, Miyazaki and his team are responsible for nineteen feature films, fifteen of which are among the highest grossing anime films made in Japan. What makes these films so special? Is it the imagery; how you feel you are gazing at a painting instead of animation? Is it the characters; the way they can capture your heart without barely saying anything? Maybe it’s the story; the expert art of weaving a tale so masterfully that you don’t even see the “cartoons” anymore?
The Wind Rises was my first taste of Miyazaki, and now I am desperate for more. Based loosely on real life engineer, Jiro Horikoshi, we follow the story of this young boy and his dream of flight. Brought to life by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, you quickly fall in-love with the “Japanese Boy” growing up in the early 20th Century. Looming in the future, we know, is World War II and we’re already beginning to fear what will happen to young Jiro when he grows up. Will he design the plane he dreams about or will war cut his lifelong dream short?
You’ll grow up with Jiro. Starting as a young boy, then rescuing a young girl during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, you’ll see him work diligently in the university; all the way to his first real job with longtime pal, Honjo (voiced by John Krasinski). All the while you’re holding onto the phrase, “The wind is rising, we must try to live” by French author Paul Valery. You first hear the empowering words from the young girl Jiro helps during the earthquake. Naoko (voiced by Emily Blunt) remains a mystery for the better part of the movie, you’re constantly watching for her to reappear. If anyone deserves true love, it’s Jiro, our tender-hearted and determined hero.
This historical drama is inspiring and beautiful. The musical score by award winner, Joe Hisaishi, is perfect. If you haven’t watched any Studio Ghibli productions, The Wind Rises is an excellent one to begin with. It will leave you in tears wondering, “What beautiful thing can I contribute to the world?” Miyazaki has a wonderful talent of taking a story and characters and turning them into a beautiful human drama that anyone can relate to and be inspired by.