If I had to describe The Wind Rises in one word it would be difficult to say the least. Calling it emotional carries too many negative connotations. Beautiful barely does it justice. And simply calling it an experience doesn't nearly describe what you feel when watching this film. So I'm going to come up with a new word. The Wind Rises is Ghiblicious. It's exactly what you'd expect from the creative genius that is Hayao Miyazaki. Similarly, It overwhelms you from head to toe. Everything from the animation, the music and the story fits together perfectly to fill you with that Ghibli feeling that all of their best works have. But, does it reach enough to carry the name of Hayao Miyazaki's magnum opus with honour?
Going through my notes from before, during and after watching The Wind Rises I can confidently say that I am hardly disappointed. But I don't think that's what matters here. Anyone who's even heard of anime knows that any Ghibli film treats you to a few hours of delight. Everyone's familiar with that special Miyazaki charm that can only be found in his films. The Wind Rises is no exception to this rule. The moment this film kicks off you just know you're in for a treat. Right from the start it manages to capture that Ghibli feel and suck you right in. It's hard to describe but I think you know what I mean when I say how cosy The Wind Rises feels.
But, as I said, The Wind Rises isn't any old Miyazaki piece (granted, they're all special but nevertheless). As sad as it may be, The Wind Rises is Hayao Miyazaki's final work. Being the departure film of one of cinema's greatest heroes, The Wind Rises carries this burden with high expectations. But trust me, you won't come close do disappointment.
Other than being exactly what you'd expect from one of Studio Ghibli's masterpieces, this film is choreographed insanely well. I can write tome's full of detailed analyses of all the meanings and nuances hidden in The Wind Rises but I'll leave that for another article. What I will say however is that The Wind Rises is a very peculiar film. This film doesn't peak or build up towards something like your typical two-hour killer. Rather, it doesn't really have a point. You glide towards the ending, through Jiro's life and at the end everything collapses. All the smallest things falling in place like a jigsaw puzzle, leaving you with a feeling. A feeling of overwhelming joy, sadness and pure Ghibliness.
As the film progresses you get to see more and more of Jiro's life. There isn't much more to it story wise really. The Wind Rises is simply a train ride through the life of an aviator fanatic (of course, it does go much deeper than that but as I said, that's for different article). This really isn't a bad thing though. As I said earlier, the film is an experience. All your regular anime characteristics are abandoned here. There's no fan service, there is pure romance. There is no violence, yet you experience the destruction and misery that war brings. There is no exceptional plot (like goddamn mutant giants attacking humans in an alternate history), rather there is an experience. I'll say it again, you fly through events in Jiro's life like an unguided missile and experience everything that comes with it.
But nevertheless, let's look at what there is story wise. The Wind Rises is about a boy, Jiro, who is obsessed with aviation. From a young age he dreamt of working with aeroplanes. You watch him dream about flying around town, spend hours reading about Caprioni and finally head off to pursue his dream. You follow through his life from there and experience the things he does and feel the things he does. Along the way you'll feel every emotion possible and fall in love with everyone on the screen (that is, if you don't forget that you're not actually in the movie).
As you can see there's no revolutionary plot element here. There aren't any dream-reality machines, mutant titans or superheroes. It's all real. You feel real war, the backlashes of war. You feel real love, loss and hope. And that all is choreographed as perfectly as you'd expect from Studio Ghibli (don't get me wrong, there's still that Ghibli mystery, but I'll get to that in a bit).
It's really hard to describe The Wind Rises Really. It's easy to say what it isn't though. I can tell you it's not just some fan service flick, nor is it some revolutionary new concept or pure violence. Miyazaki literally abandons all the templates that you find in most modern anime. Yet when you watch this film you'll feel like you're standing next to Jiro. You'll smell the fresh air when he steps outside to smoke. Every single sound is chosen perfectly and fit in at the exact right moment to truly suck you in. You'll hear the leaves rustle and the slight echo of footsteps. Yet even more stunning is how huge the contrast is when disaster strikes. The sounds changes to a-capella disasters, the animation changes and you'll feel the disaster. It jumps out just as hard as such things would in real life, all truly the results of a creative mastermind.
All of the noises and sounds in this film are orchestrated perfectly to capture you in to the film before you even notice it.
This is what I mean when I say that The Wind Rises is special. When I say this film doesn't have a story I mean that the story doesn't matter. Of course it's still very deep and intricate. Ranging from the recurring contrasts to demonstrate the duality of war to the countless motives like it's title: "The Wind Rises" which cause for mind blowing nuances and experiences as you piece them together in your mind.
This is one of those anime's that gets better the more you think about it. Like all of his best works such as Princess Mononoke and My Neigbour Totoro this film will stick with you forever. And like all of his best works, you'll look forward to re-watching this film until you're deported for suspicious electricity usage.
The whole film fits together perfectly.
However, as a critic and reviewer I have to point out the elements that weren't quite on par with the rest of the film. The biggest of these was the rough beginning. In order to introduce you to Jiro and get to know what he does, why he does it and what kind of person he is you go through all the important elements in his life leading up to the point where most of the film is about. Because of this the first half hour or so feels like a collage of scenes that get confusing and generally feel out of tone with the other elements of the film. Though of course, this is overshadowed by the great storytelling and choreography.
My only gripe with this film is that the first half hour feels rough and like a collage of scenes used to rush towards the main point of the film.
If you've been following me for a while then you'll know that I highly appreciate it when an anime is well balanced. That is to say that it doesn't set out on an endless journey to surpass its previous episode (*cough* Attack on Titan *cough*). For me the perfect anime has a good balance between excitement and building up towards it's excitement. Of recklessness and reward (such as Kuroko no Baske where you don't know who will win) and mystery (take Stein's;Gate with it's plot that is simultaneously complex, mysterious, interesting and easy to follow).
I can honestly say that The Wind Rises does all of this perfectly. There wasn't a single moment that felt out of place, yet it's pacing never felt unnatural. The film ended at the perfect moment. And it never once went overboard (that is to say, it never felt like it was trying too hard to impress you).
But this still might not appeal to everyone. By changing the standard anime formula it might show some people that you don't need to stick to certain tropes to make a good film. But it might alienate some people with that. If you want to see two large plots bouncing up and down you shouldn't bother with The Wind Rises. If you need some revolutionary out of the box concept you wont find that here. If a deep message or meaning is the only thing you look for in a film then while you'll find that here, you might not be as impressed as I was.
So in short what you should expect from this film is a Ghibli experience. If you enjoy films by Studio Ghibly then you'll love this film. If you've never watched one of their films then you have no excuse to remain ignorant. But if you didn't enjoy other Ghibli films like Princes Mononoke then I doubt The Wind Rises will convert you (however, it's always worth a shot, this is Hayao Miyazaki we're talking about).
So to put an end to this ramble The Wind Rises is exactly what you'd expect from Hayao Miyazaki and the other great minds at Studio Ghibli. Be prepared to wage through an experience that you'll never forget. An adventure where you'll feel more emotions than you deemed possible from a film, and one with a perfect ending.
Edit: Rockmandash12 just pointed out that this is the 3rd review of The Wind Rises TAY now. I'm really sorry, I completely forgot to look up if there were any other reviews about this film before publishing this.