Anime: The Wind Rises

...We must endeavor to live.

“Would you like to live in a world with or without pyramids?”
Count Caproni

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 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.

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Has Examples of

  • 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.
  • Aloof Big Brother: Jiro often breaks promises to spend time with his sister to study aviation and later to work on his planes.
  • 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.
  • Badass Mustache: Caproni and Nahoko's father.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The word kaze means either ‘wind’ (風) or ‘fever’ (風邪), giving a whole new symbolic meaning to wind in this film.
  • 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. Jiro also neglects his dying wife in order to finish the design, and when she senses that she has little time left, she secretly returns to the sanatorium and dies away from Jiro, choosing to leave only happy memories behind.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Naoko.
  • Catapult Nightmare: Averted. No matter how disturbing, freakish, surreal, or trope-teasing his dreams get, Jiro never even raises his head until a few seconds AFTER he opens his eyes.
  • Caught in the Rain: Nahoko and Jiro near the hotel, immediately leading to an Umbrella of Togetherness.
  • Complete-the-Quote Title: The title, and by extention, the Arc Words come from the title of the french poem "Le vent se leve!... Il faut tenter de vivre!" , which is also the page quote. The poem is often quoted over 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.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language:
    • Count Caproni speaks Italian when he first appears in Jiro’s dreams, albeit with a nigh-impenetrably thick Japanese accent).
    • The Arc Words are initially given in French.
    • The Germans in the film speak German despite being (apparently) fluent in Japanese. Castorp himself is voiced by german film director Werner Herzog in the english language dub, with his BBC flavoured accent. He also sang Castorp's part in the German language drinking song. American Steve Alpert took this part in the Japanese language original, not sure if he sang the German song though.
    • The guests at the hotel Jiro stays in sing part of ‘Das gibt’s nur einmal’ together.
  • Happily Married: Jiro and Naoko, before Naoko's death at the end.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jiro and Honjou.
  • Historical-Domain Character: Inevitable given the biographic nature of the work.
    • 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 A6M 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.
  • Ill Girl: Naoko in the second half of the movie. She contracted Tuberculosis, most likely from her mother who died from it. She dies by the end of the movie.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Naoko.
  • 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.
  • Magic Realism: Throughout the film Jiro has dreams where he discusses airplanes with his hero, Italian aircraft designer Giovanni Battista Caproni.
  • Manly Tears: Kurokawa, during the wedding ceremony.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: We first see Jiro as a boy with his dreams of flight.
  • Mood Whiplash: After some fun and games with hats blowing around on the train, the Tokyo earthquake.
  • The Napoleon: Kurokawa. He is short in stature and often short in temper.
  • Nice Girl/Nice Guy: Naoko and Jiro, respectively.
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Kurokawa is always seen frowning, even when complimenting someone. However, he's among those who laugh their heads off when they learn Jiro has a fiancé, stating he always assumed Jiro would marry an airplane.
  • Precocious Crush: Naoko had been in love with Jiro since the earthquake, at the time they were respectively 13 and 20.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: The movie's ending theme Hikoukigumo is an old pop-song from 1973. When Miyazaki first heard the song, he immediately decided that it simply had to be the movie's theme-song.
  • Rescue Romance: Averted. Jiro rescues Naoko's maid, but ends up with Naoko herself.
  • Scenery Porn: A signature of Miyazaki's. Any scene featuring flight is a particularly beautiful example.
    • Even by Miyazaki standards, the animation is astounding. Among the best if not the best looking animation ever. (And then you consider this was all done by hand, no computer assistance.)
    • Scenery Gorn: The earthquake scene and subsequent destruction are stunningly crafted.
  • Schizo Tech: Lampshaded: the state-of-the-art fighters are hauled to the landing field by oxen. This was the case in real life, as there were no proper roads between the factory and the airstrip, and they were still doing this as late as 1941!
  • Shown Their Work:
    • All planes shown in the movie existed in real life, and their depictions are accurate. Yes, even the gigantic airplanes in Jiro's dreams are real.
    • Engineering was accurate: the animation showed realistic airframes (including cutaway views) and depicted real problems (such as aeroelastic flutter) accurately.
    • Jiro may talk about wings being shaped like a mackerel bone, but we also see him filling pages with mathematical calculations. He's an engineer, not an artist.
  • Smart People Wear Glasses: Jiro's prominent glasses exemplify this. Also consider Kurokawa, who's first introduction is as a comical troll, but whose glasses correctly predict later revelations. Later on we see him as a canny manager, and clever friend. Jiro's glasses are also used to bookend the movie. At the beginning they are seen resting at the head of his bed, and he puts them on. After his "10 years" as a designer, Nahoko returns them there. The rest of the movie is essentially epilogue: the test flight remains, but Jiro's part is done and he won't see Nahoko again.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Almost verging on Product Placement.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The female protagonist is called Naoko but it is written in kana as "Nahoko" since the work takes place before the Japanese spelling reform.
  • A Storm Is Coming:
    • The title of the film is from a poem about grasping the opportunities that life presents, but when you know that the film is set in Japan from the 1920s to the 1940s, other interpretations also present themselves.
    • During the firestorm after the earthquake, Jiro has a vision of Caproni asking him if the wind is still rising. Jiro replies that is a hurricane.
  • Take That: The military are seen pretty much only as identical lunkheads whose talents lie in making loud noises and getting in the way of making planes.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailer shows Naoko coughing blood, revealing that she's dying.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: While Jiro Horikoshi actually existed in Real Life, and he did design the aircraft shown in the movie, his Love Interest is fictional. Also, he is a non-smoker in real life despite his frequent smoking in the movie.
    • 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: While the film focuses on the creation of planes, Jiro's dream sequences occasionally show brief, but completely destructive, battles that use said planes.