Release date; 9 May

Let’s get one thing straight before I launch into this review — The Wind Rises may be an cartoon, but it is by no means aimed at children. In fact, this is not just any animation, but the highly anticipated final film by Hayao Miyazaki, the co-founder of Studio Ghibli (named after the Caproni Ca.309) and writer/director of Spirited Away; the first anime (Japanese cartoon) to win an Oscar.

The film follows the story of Jiro – a boy, too near-sighted to be a pilot, who dreams of designing aircraft – and revolves around the development of the Zero fighter. The main character is a blend of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi and author Tatsuo Hori. Italian aircraft designer Caproni – accompanied by his Ca.4 and Noviplano (if you’ve never seen an image of this seaplane, then Google it now) – also features heavily as a mentor who appears in Jiro’s dreams.

Those who baulk at the idea of subtitles will be pleased to know that there is a dubbed version, starring the voices of Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emily Blunt and Stanley Tucci.

The Wind Rises is a very beautiful film, filled with sweeping scenes of Japanese countryside and exquisitely drawn aircraft. Despite being highly fictionalised, it depicts key historical events including The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, the Great Depression, the tuberculosis epidemic, and Japan’s plunge into war. It could not be more different to the surrealist fantasies that are normally called to mind when one thinks of Studio Ghibli. Those of a more sensitive disposition may want to keep some Kleenex close to hand.

The film drags somewhat around the mid-way point, and sadly it’s hard to form a connection with Jiro’s love-interest, Nahoko, who doesn’t seem to do much apart from smile, giggle and appear generally adoring. However, it crams so much into 126 minutes that it can be forgiven for a lack of character development!

A gorgeous piece of animation that tells an intriguing tale, this is a fine ending for Miyazaki’s career.

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