The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu) is a 2013 animated film from Hayao Miyazaki of Studio Ghibli. Said to be his last film until he recently announced that he would be working on another that will be his last, 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".
The story opens on Jiro Horikoshi (voiced by Hideaki Anno in Japanese, Joseph Gordon-Levitt in English) as a young boy in rural Japan. His acute myopia makes it impossible for him to be a pilot. Inspired by a dream featuring Caproni, a famed Italian aeronautic engineer, he resolves to become a designer of airplanes — despite a prophetic warning from Caproni that such machines could be put to evil uses.
The film follows Jiro around the world and across the years in his life-long quest. He becomes an engineering student remarkable for his insight and his love of the art, which in this time period (c. 1925-1940) was in its infancy. Caught in the middle of a train trip by the Great Kanto Earthquake, he has a chance encounter with Naoko, the daughter of a wealthy family, and helps the girl and her maid find their way home before traveling on to the university... where he must promptly join the effort to keep it from burning down in the wake of the earthquake.
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. He struggles against the massive technology gap that separates Japan from America and the European nations, and in time is sent to their ally Germany to learn from their foremost aeronautical engineer, Count Junkers. Eventually he returns to Japan as a senior engineer at the company, still working on the airplane he can see in his dreams.
His company is struggling to gain a military contract in the midst of a stagnant economy, and they pin their hopes on Jiro's newest project. In the midst of this crisis he is reunited with Naoko, and learns that she has contracted tuberculosis and doesn't expect to live much longer. They beg for her father's permission for a hurried marriage and she joins him in Kyoto, despite the risks to her health. In the end, he completes the design he'd been dreaming of for years, but the test-flight that should be the greatest moment of his life is marred by tragedy.
In a Distant Epilogue, Jiro walks through the wreckage of his creations — destroyed by war, or dismantled by the terms of the treaty that ended it — and dreams again of meeting Caproni, who asks him, "Was it worth it?"
The Wind Rises was the final Ghibli film released by Disney in North America prior to GKIDS buying out the film license, and brought the Disney/Ghibli era to a close after nineteen years.
The Wind Rises provides examples of:
- The Alleged Car: Or more accurately, 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 endeavor 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.
- Kamikaze means "divine wind."
- 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. Jiro also states that none of the planes he designed ever returned home from the war. Additionally, it's implied that Jiro, much like Caproni before him, has lived past his engineering prime and will never surpass the limits of what they have already accomplished. Having resigned to these truths, Jiro agrees to relax with Caproni in their dream world.
- Blood from the Mouth: "Naoko has had a lung haemorrhage."
- 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 a line in the French poem Le Cimetière marin "Le vent se lève !... Il faut tenter de vivre !". 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 Prototype Plane No. 9, it is apparently Horikoshi's favorite 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 Intro: The movie starts with one, where Jiro, as a young boy, rides on his little plane mounted on top of his house and soars across the sky above the little town he lives by, only to be greeted by an ominous war machine, whose minions rams him down and ends the dream.
- Dream Sequence: Used as a framing device to connect the fragments of Jiro's life together and to reveal the future.
- Foreshadowing: At the beginning of the movie, Jiro gets hurt fighting bullies and his sister asks if she needs to apply iodine to his wounds. Strange when you consider she's likely not even 10, but guess what her future occupation is? Further supported when Jiro tells her when they're adults that she'd be "good at it."
- Gainaxing: Done with hair. Especially noticeable on Kurokawa, who seems to be attempting takeoff whenever walking.
- Grand Finale: As the next film, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya, was released in North America by GKIDS (who would eventually acquire all of Studio Ghibli's film and home media licenses), The Wind Rises serves as the last Ghibli film to be distributed by Disney.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language:
- Count Caproni speaks Italian when he first appears in Jiro's dreams, albeit with a nigh-impenetrably thick Japanese accent. Stanley Tucci, an Italian-American himself, also speaks that particular language in the dub with an Italian 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 flavored 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 appears in the movie, Caproni is a frequent guest in Jiro's dreams, serving as a mentor and inspiration for Jiro.
- Hugo Junkers also makes a brief appearance as Jiro and his colleagues tour 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: In trhe second part of the movie it's seen that Naoko has Tuberculosis, most likely contracted from her also ill girl mother who died from it. For worse, this is a time where there *is* already a TB vaccine, but proper medicines are still in development. 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 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.
- 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 Person: Naoko and Jiro are very sweet people.
- 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.
- Product Placement: Jiro and Honjo work at the Mitsubishi Heavy Industries plant. Mitsubishi was also involved in every Studio Ghibli film as a member of its production committee since Spirited Away.
- Real Song Theme Tune: The movie's ending theme Hikoukigumo is an old pop-song from 1973 by Yumi Matsutoya, who also performed the theme songs to Kiki's Delivery Service. When Miyazaki first heard the song, he immediately decided that it simply had to be the movie's theme-song.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite being a short-tempered boss, Kurokawa has a very reasonable judgment and is willing to listen to Jiro on his thoughts about the various projects Mitsubishi is working on.
- Rescue Romance: Averted. Jiro rescues Naoko's maid, but ends up with Naoko herself.
- Scenery Gorn: The earthquake scene and subsequent destruction are stunningly crafted.
- 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.)
- 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!
- Shipper on Deck: Castrop is the first to see the growing romance between Jiro and Naoko, even helping them convince her father to give his blessing.
- 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 is accurate: the animation shows realistic airframes (including cutaway views) and depicts 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. Though certainly accurate for the time period.
- 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 it 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. (But they're the only ones buying cutting-edge 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. He had an older brother instead of a younger sister, and was 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.