(director/writer: Hayao Miyazaki; screenwriters: based on the manga “Kaze Tachinu” by Miyazaki/novel by Tatsuo Hori; editor: Koji Kasamatsu; music: Joe Hisaishi; cast: Voices: Hideaki Anno, Miori Takimoto, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Masahiko Nishimura, Stephen Alpert, Morio Kazama, Keiko Takeshita, Mirai Shida, Jun Kunimura, Shinobu Otake, Mansai Nomura, Zach Callison; Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: PG-13; producer: Toshio Suzuki; Touchstone Pictures; 2013-Japan-Japanese with English subtitles)

It’s not the director’s best, too much meandering off course, but it’s still a fine work of animation.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki(“Porco Rosso“/”Ponyo on the Cliff“/”My Neighbor Totoro”) creates a beautiful, powerful and sentimental lyrical film about aviation that tells us life is but a dream (his father worked during the war in the aviation industry). But the pic is hampered by a slow-moving second half, it’s overlong at 126 minutes, the soft-pedaling of its daring attempt to make the builder of bombers used in Pearl Harbor’s sneak attack as a hero for a film because its box office depends a lot on the West, and its muddled mixture of an upbeat fanciful story with a bleak realistic story.

It’s based on the 2009 manga “Kaze Tachinu” by Miyazaki and on Tatsuo Hori’s novel of the same name. The great director of thirty years, co-founder of Studio Ghibli, has saddened the cinema world by mentioning that this will be his last film. Its title is derived from a Paul Valery poem with the words “the wind is rising.” The inspiration for the pic is from Jiro Horikoshi, the man who designed the Zero fighter plane used in the attack on Pearl Harbor.

The story revolves around Jiro Horikoshi (Zach Callison as a youngster, Hideaki Anno as an adult), a naive but curious bespectacled young man living in rural Japan, who as a youth dreamed of being a pilot but poor eyesight brought him to Tokyo to instead study aeronautical engineering. He was encouraged to do so by the great Italian aeronautic inventor Caprione (Mansai Nomura) he meets in his dream world and who acts as his mentor. After graduation Jiro works at an aircraft company and will eventually, after many setbacks, work his way up to the top of his field to design the World War II Mitsubishi Zero Fighter plane. Jiro’s dreams of making the world a better place through technology comes crashing down however as he becomes haunted that his plane is used for killing purposes in World War II, but he offers only regrets and no apologies for his actions.

The pic shows the horrific Great Kanto earthquake in 1923. It also features an invented banal romance Jiro has with the delicate Naoko ((Miori Takimoto), whom he meets in a tuberculosis mountain retreat.

The film’s theme song Airplane Cloud, plays throughout.

It’s not the director’s best, too much meandering off course, but it’s still a fine work of animation.

The Wind Rises Poster