Although Jirou Horikoshi's nearsightedness prevents him from ever becoming a pilot, he leaves his hometown to study aeronautical engineering at Tokyo Imperial University for one simple purpose: to design and build planes just like his hero, Italian aircraft pioneer Giovanni Battista Caproni. His arrival in the capital coincides with the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, during which he saves a maid serving the family of a young girl named Naoko Satomi; this disastrous event marks the beginning of over two decades of social unrest and malaise leading up to Japan's eventual surrender in World War II.
For Jirou, the years leading up to the production of his infamous Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter aircraft will test every fiber of his being. His many travels and life experiences only urge him onward—even as he realizes both the role of his creations in the war and the harsh realities of his personal life. As time marches on, he must confront an impossible question: at what cost does he chase his beautiful dream?
Japan, early 20th century – Seeking to build a world of enchantment and machines, we have a young boy named Jiro Horikoshi. With vision and intelligence, Jiro aims to reach the clouds and beyond. However, his poor eyesight confines him to the ground, as he cannot become a pilot. Undeterred, Jiro pursues a career in aeronautical engineering, aiming to create majestic aircrafts that might touch the skies without him.
His journey, however, is not just about engines and gears. Encompassing this tale of aviation and ambition is a poignant love story grounded to the realities of life. On an unfortunate day, Jiro meets a certain elegant yet fiercely resilient girl named Nahoko Satomi. As he maneuvers through the turbulence of life and war-torn Japan, Jiro’s dreams, passions, and love continuously take flight, gently personified within his magnificent creations.
Directed by the legendary Hayao Miyazaki, Kaze Tachinu or The Wind Rises is a film that transcends the boundaries of typical narratives; it’s a carefully crafted piece of art that is as much about life as it is about dreams. Whereas most animes are content to take us to otherworldly realms, Kaze Tachinu treads strongly on the grounds of reality and historical events.
The animation, as expected of Studio Ghibli, is a masterclass in itself. Each frame could feasibly stand alone as a painting – the lush countryside, the explosive sky sequences, and the meticulously detailed airplanes, it’s like a grand feast for the eyes! Even the simpler scenes, like the paper airplane floating across the room, are filled with such beauty, heralding the immense love and effort poured into creating this masterpiece.
Miyazaki’s poignant storytelling paired with his trademark visuals presents a narrative that leapfrogs the usual anime fare. Beneath the surface of Jiro’s dream and his love for Nahoko, Miyazaki sketches a disturbing, yet carefully subtle commentary on war and its cost. In doing so, he flips the age-old question – Is it the machines that make the war? Or is it us?
The characters are strikingly relatable and authentic, steered clear from archetypes, making them feel more human than ever. The romance between Jiro and Nahoko is heart-achingly beautiful and is woven delicately into the narrative without overshadowing the central theme of Jiro’s journey of dreams and desires.
Accompanied by Joe Hisaishi’s sublime music, the gentle piano undertones bring out the emotion lurking within certain scenes, making them all the more powerful. The sound design, especially in scenes involving airplanes, is astonishingly gratifying, thereby amplifying the narrative’s overall effect.
To summarize, Kaze Tachinu isn’t just an anime; it’s a testament to the power of dreams, love, and resilience amidst a world submerged in unrest. Its balance of historical depth, powerful storytelling, and mesmerizing aesthetics makes it a not-to-miss experience. So whether to rent, buy, or stream – I would say own it! I urge all anime lovers or not, to take this flight that Miyazaki has meticulously designed for us.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Kaze Tachinu easily earns a solid 9 for its earnest illustration of dreams, love, and the intrinsic human desire to rise above difficulties. Get your tickets, fasten your seat belts and get ready for this emotional yet inspiring flight!
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