"Le vent se lève!... Il faut tenter de vivre!" (The wind rises!... We must endeavour to live!) —Paul Valéry, "Le Cimetière marin"
"Airplanes are not tools for war. They are not for making money. Airplanes are beautiful dreams."
The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) is a 2013 animated film from Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. Said to be his last film, it is a highly fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, a gifted aeronautics engineer who is most famous for being the chief designer of many war planes used by the Japanese military, most notably the (in)famous Mitsubishi A6M "Zero".Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Hideaki Anno in Japanese, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in English) has been dreaming of flying since he was a young boy living in rural Japan. While his acute myopia prevents him from becoming a pilot, he continues to chase his dreams by aspiring to become an aeronautics engineer. He borrows an English aviation magazine and reads it thoroughly using an English dictionary, then dreams of meeting Caproni, a famed Italian aeronautic engineer who proceed to inspire him to realise his dreams by creating beautiful aircraft despite the possibility that they'll be used as tools of war and destruction.Years later, Jiro is a student of engineering in Tokyo. Returning to the city by train after a holiday he encounters Naoko, the daughter of a wealthy family, who helps him catch his hat when it is taken by the wind. Soon after they return to their compartments the great Kanto earthquake hits Tokyo, wrecking the train and breaking Naoko's maid's leg. Jiro rescues Naoko and her maid despite being warned that the train might explode, and delivers them back to Naoko's home before returning to the (blazing) university, where he once again hears the voice of Caproni cheering him up.After his graduation, Jiro and his friend and fellow engineer Honjo are hired by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and sent to their aviation division in Nagoya. What follows are a series of vignettes that detail his journey to realise his dream of building the beautiful aircraft he envisioned despite looming instability and inevitable war, as well as his reunion and eventual marriage to Naoko during a low point in life.Needs a Better Description.
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The Alleged Plane: Many, as Japan was decades behind the major powers in terms of industry and aeronautic engineering at the time. Examples include A1N and B1M, as both struggle to take off and land on an aircraft carrier, spewing engine oil everywhere, including on Jiro and Kurokawa. Kurokawa even commented "that's what Japanese airplane/engine is" when riding on one.
Arc Words: "The wind rises". Both the original French and the translated line is mentioned several times throughout the work. Also its following line, "We must endeavour to live", to a lesser extent.
The former line is used to tragic effect in the very end, as Naoko tells Jiro, "You must live," as she is implied to be passing on.
Bittersweet Ending: Jiro finally fulfilled his dream of designing the perfect aircraft in his mind, and he is married to the woman he loves, Naoko. However, his designs are also used as war machines that brought death and destruction, first to the enemy and then to Japan itself. Naoko also suffered from Tuberculosis and is implied to have died by the end of the movie.
Composite Character: If you consider Real Life to be the source material of this, then Jiro Horikoshi is one, with elements from Jiro Horikoshi the aircraft designer, Tatsuo Hori the chain-smoking novelist with a wife who contracted TB, and Miyazaki's father, the owner of a factory that manufactured parts for the Zero fighter. Miyazaki's mother also suffered from TB
Cool Plane: Guaranteed given Miyazaki's love for aircraft and the occupation of the protagonist.
Despite widely being considered the Magnum Opus of Jiro Horikoshi's design, the Zero does not appear in the movie until the very end. The plane showed on the poster, as well as being the centre of the last part of the movie is actually a prototype of A5M "Claude". Called Protoype Plane No. 9, it is apparently Horikoshi's favourite among all his designs.
Crossover The German gentleman at the hotel is mentioned fleetingly to be Mr. Castorp. Hans Castorp is the protagonist of Thomas Mann's novel 'The Magic Mountain', and there visits a relative with TB at a sanatorium (and contracts the disease). Miyazaki's Castorp mentions the magic mountain several times, and his topics are sympathetic to Mann.
Cue the Rain: It pours after the 1MF2 crashes in front of the inspecting military officials, ending all hopes for Mitsubishi to secure a contract with the military, who opted for one of its rivals instead. During the scene, both Jiro and Kurokawa are soaked in the rain as the latter examined the wreckage.
Defector from Decadence: While vacationing, Jiro meets and befriends a strange German man who has apparently left Nazi Germany because he was disgusted by the changes happening there. This man also mentions Hugo Junkers, who had appeared briefly earlier, who in real life was forced out of his own company in 1935 because he was a pacifist and a socialist, and he didn't want his plane designs to be used for war
Dream Sequence: used as a framing device to connect the fragments of Jiro's life together and to reveal the future.
The movie starts with one, where Jiro, as a young boy, rode on his little plane mounted on top of his house and soared across the sky above the little town he lives by, only to be greeted by an omnious war machine, whose minions rammed him down and ended the dream.
Gainaxing: Done with hair. Especially noticeable on Kurokawa, who seems to be attempting takeoff whenever walking.
The protagonist, Jiro Horikoshi, was a Real Life aircraft designer under the employment of Mitsubishi, and is responsible for the design of various warplanes used by the Japanese military, most famous of which being the A 6 M Zero.
Jiro's friend and colleague, Honjo, is heavily implied to be based on Kiro Honjo, another Mitsubishi engineer that designed G1M reconnaissance aircraft and its bomber variant, G3M "Nell".
Jiro's superior, Hattori, is said to be based on Joji Hattori, another real Mitsubishi aeronautics engineer.
Although he never really appeared in the movie, Caproni is a frequent guest in Jiro's dreams, serving as a mentor and inspiration for Jiro.
Hugo Junkers also made a brief appearance as Jiro and his colleagues toured in his aircraft workshop for technological exchange.
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: Averted. When Jiro, Saotome, and the German gentleman are singing a German folk song together, they are all realistically off-key.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Kurokawa, Jiro's senior/superior in the aircraft company. While he is harsh and seemingly negative most of the time he also tries his best to protect Jiro from the Secret Police, offers him (and later, his wife) a place to live, and even serves as witness at their impromptu wedding. He also gives Jiro credit where it is due, as shown by him saying Jiro's self-held engineering seminar "impressive" despite looking quite angry in the whole process.
According to Kurokawa's wife, he always looks like that, no matter what mood he's actually in
Kayo is a minor example. She's bratty as a child and in spades as a adult, but she wants to do more with her life and completes Medical School with encouragement from Jiro. She shows much concern about Naoko's health not only as a Doctor, but as a sister concerned for her sister-in-law and her brother.
Much of the portrayal of Jiro Horikoshi, especially in regard to his personal life, is based on Tatsuo Hori instead, to whom the movie is dedicated as well. Two of Tatsuo Hori's novels, Kaze tachinu and Naoko are major inspirations for the film according to Word of God.
War Is Hell: The few times where the battlefield is shown often show a blazing world filled with smoke as war planes rain down death and destruction to the cities (and towards each other in one case). The protagonist even said it is "a land of the dead" as he walked past a plain filled with war plane wreckage in the dream at the tail end of the movie.