While the animation world is still getting over the fact that The Wind Rises signals the officially official retirement of the legendary Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki his final bow has been met with a very deserving Oscar nomination for “Best Animated Feature”. The Wind Rises is quite a departure from the fantastic fare he’s known for and is, in a way, a metaphor for his career. In fact, the film, whether intentionally or not, echos his efforts to create peerless animation.
In The Wind Rises, Jiro Horikoshi dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the world’s most innovative and accomplished airplane designers, earning the respect of prominent industry greats, including Hattori and Kurokawa. The film chronicles much of Jiro’s life, depicting key historical events, including the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic and Japan’s plunge into war.
The gorgeous clips below are from the dubbed U.S. version (which has amassed a stellar cast for this last animated hurrah) and showcases some of the spectacular animation on display in Miyazaki’s farewell feature.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s not as friendly and heartwarming as films like Spirited Away and Ponyo but like Studio Ghibli co-founder Isao Takahata‘s anti-war film Grave of the Fireflies attempts to tell a stern and more mature tale that, on the whole, is as bitter-sweet at Miyazaki-san’s retirement. For every immaculate and breathtaking frame and scene there’s an equal amount of dour undertone. But thankfully Miyazaki keeps it, for most of the feature, at arms length. He also refrains from Fireflies‘ heart-wrenching ending and manages to offer one with a glimmer of hope.
Anyway, whether you, like us, are purists when it comes to the original language track or simply prefer the dub it’s hard not to ohh and ahh over any Ghibli feature and The Wind Rises is no exception. Farewell Miyazaki-san…
Gary Rydstrom, seven-time Academy Award-winning sound designer, directed the English-language version of the film as well as The Secret World of Arrietty and From Up on Poppy Hill. The Wind Rises began its limited theatrical run in North America on February 21st under the Touchstone Pictures banner and expands wider on February 28, 2014.