The Wind Rises

When people see "Animated" they automatically think "Aha! It's for kids!" and bring them to the theater. Imagine their surprise when they figure out that this movie is biographical, about an ill-fated love affair and the man who designed Japan's ferocious "Zeros," Mitsubishi's World War II fighter planes. Dialogue about "extruded aluminum alloy" and "flush rivets" for a "smooth skin" probably went right over the kids' heads, don't you think? This is just as well because children won't automatically think of Pearl Harbor or the War in the Pacific.

I was dismayed to discover that the version I attended was in English, so I'm afraid I missed a lot; I expected it to be in Japanese with subtitles. When I realized my mistake, it was too late to go to the lobby and ask for closed-caption glasses. Oh well... My companion filled me in as best she could afterwards.

There were many "name brands" providing the English-speaking voices, but I'd rather talk about the characters:
  • Jirô Horikoshi is our main character; we follow him from childhood, see how he is inspired to design airplanes by reading about an Italian aeronautical designer, then we see his engineering studies and his demanding employment at Mitsubishi. (We also see some of the failures.)
  • Caprioni is the Italian designer. (He has wild dreams and a large family!)
  • Honjô is Jirô's friend and fellow employee at Mitsubishi. It is so satisfying to see two honorable gentlemen treat each other with respect.
  • Nahoko Satomi is the lovely (doomed) young woman our hero loves. Her illness was another aspect of the film that escaped the youngsters in the audience.
  • Kayo Horikoshi is our hero's sister; she was one of my favorites because she was in a perpetual snit, which masked her loving heart.
We also have an impatient boss, a Swiss acquaintance, parents, military fellows (both Japanese and German), landladies and various other characters. (Miyazaki creates delicious characters whose movements are authentic and breathtakingly real.)

To me, however, the main reason to watch this Oscar-nominated film (Best Animated Feature) is to admire the exquisite art work. Every frame deserves to be mounted on a wall somewhere. There is nothing quite like Hayao Miyazaki's meticulous artistry, whether he is writing the story, drawing the frames or directing the movie, he is one of a kind. His previous works include "Spirited Away," "Howl's Moving Castle," and "Princess Mononoke."

This is PG-13; it includes no profanity, nudity, warfare or gunfights. We see the Great Kanto Earthquake which occurred in 1923, but again, no blood or horror. It includes a tuberculosis epidemic, but we mostly see patients wrapped snugly at a sanitorium. We also see heavy cigarette smoking because pretty much everyone smoked in the 30s and 40s, so that is a non-issue.

Come see the amazing artwork!
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Here is a sample:
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