By now, the name Ghibli is just as anonymous with great animated as Pixar or Dreamworks here in the states. They have created classic after classic that lives on in the minds and hearts of everyone who has watched them. However, not all Ghibli films get that same level of love and recognition. Many, in fact, have been pretty flatly ignored. Today, I want to talk about a Ghibli film that fans have seemingly forgotten, that being “The Wind Rises”
The story of “The Wind Rises” tells a fictionalized version of the life of Jiro Hoshiko, the designer of two of Japan’s most important aircraft during WW2, both the Mitsubishi A5M and the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. In the film, we see most of the major events of Jiro’s life, from his inspiration for becoming a plane designer, up to when he realizes his success and builds the A5M, only to have it used in for war.
The film premiered back in July of 2013 but has since then not been given much notice. One might think that considering it was the last film Miyazaki worked on before he supposedly went into retirement, that it might get a bit more attention, but sadly that was not the case. Despite coming out before “Princess Kaguya,” It was only added to GKid’s Ghibli Fest this year, whereas “Princess Kaguya” was featured last year. There are a couple of reasons for this lack of exposure.
The first is the subject matter. “The Wind Rises” features a noticeably more somber storyline than many of its counterparts, with the inclusion of Jiro’s encounters with Nazi soldiers, as well as the death of his wife near the end of the film. On top of that, there is also the matter of Jiro himself, who engineers planes for the Japanese army that are used in WW2.
The second is simply a matter of poor performance. While it is true that the film managed to gross over 130 million USD at the box office compared to its 30 million dollar budget, It also fails to live up to other Ghibli films like “Spirited Away” a “Ponyo,” which faired much better.
In spite of what the numbers might have people believe, though, “The Wind Rises” is still an incredible film. Its animation is up there with many of Ghibli’s best, its story, while not the usual Ghibli subject matter, is heartwarming and tragic, and its soundtrack, although dull at parts, brings the whole film together.
It may have been Miyazaki’s last film, at least at the time, but that does not mean it deserves to be ignored. It is a movie with so much to offer and is worth all 126 minutes of your time. Without a doubt, “The Wind Rises” is among the best animated features in recent memory.
Bye for now,