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The Wind Rises

#69 - The Wind Rises
Hayao Miyazaki, 2013

Loosely based on the true story of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aeronauticaly engineer working to design planes in the aftermath of World War I.

Given that this is supposedly going to be Miyazaki's final film (not like he hasn't said that before, but this time it seems very believable), it makes sense that it focuses on a subject that Miyazaki has incorporated into many of his films: flying. Rather than create yet another fantastic realm full of imaginative visuals and magical creatures, Miyazaki opts instead to tell a down-to-earth story based in fact. Of course, he still gets the chance to provide his trademark fantasy elements through dream sequences (that may or may not be an actual shared consciousness, but the film is appropriately vague on this) where protagonist Jiro gets to meet one of his idols and see all sorts of amazing sights as a result. In addition to Jiro's aeronautical endeavours, he also courts heiress Naoko, in a sub-plot that definitely adds some much-needed heart to the A-plot, which can get a little bogged down in some fairly dry sequences about airplane design.

The realistic biopic angle that The Wind Rises takes can come across as a bit of a drag in ways that not even the various dream sequences can compensate for, but it's a small complaint as the animation is as fluid and striking as ever. As Miyazaki is wont to do, there is a dark undercurrent to what is superficially an inspiring story of following one's dreams. The post-World War I setting means there are references to the inevitability of World War II, while the romance sub-plot isn't exactly sunshine and rainbows either. Miyazaki's films never take severe dips in quality, though, and The Wind Rises is as good a final film as he could make.