ImagiNERDing Review: The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki

Written by George Taylor. Posted in Disney, Disney Movies, Disney Parks, Features, Imaginerding, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

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Published on March 03, 2014 at 2:00 am with 8 Comments

Hayao Miyazaki is one of the most acclaimed and respected filmmakers in the world. He’s been called a modern Walt Disney, which isn’t an inaccurate description; Miyazaki has pushed the boundaries of animated filmmaking beyond anyone else. The Wind Rises is his final full-length animated film, as he announced his retirement in 2013. Of course, there are hopes that he will continue with smaller projects.


Studio Ghibli was formed in 1985 and has released 19 films, including Ponyo, Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle and the incomparable My Neighbor Totoro. Once you experience a Studio Ghibli film, it changes the way you see animation and filmmaking. The Walt Disney Company has distributed Studio Ghibli films in North America since 1996. They currently share theatrical rights with Gkids.


If you’ve ever watched a Miyazaki film, then you know that he has a deep love of airplanes and flying. With his final film, Miyazaki pays tribute to Japanese aviation by adapting his manga series that is a fictional account of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, a designer of several aircraft used by the Empire of Japan in World War II. It’s a bittersweet film that seems to mirror Miyazaki’s career with his desire to simply create something beautiful.

Like every Studio Ghibli film, the animation is simply breathtaking. The animation is on a level unlike what you’ll see anywhere else, including films by Pixar and the Walt Disney Studios. I’m sure that Miyazaki is beholden to budgets and restrictions, but his films are filled with details that bring his worlds to life. There are moments that are so sublime in the film that you forget you’re watching an animated film. Nature is so important to Miyazaki and becomes a central character in the landscape. During one scene, in particular, Jiro is approaching Naoko near a spring. The camera pans along the stream and there’s a white flower. It’s unnecessary but adds to the depth and the complexity.


The film is full of moments like this, whether it’s a train full of people or a tiny, fat baby strapped to someone’s back. The detail is simply too amazing to comprehend at times. The film is incredibly beautiful. Beyond the animation, Miyazaki has created a story that pulls you along. The characters are fully realized and you develop a vested interest in them. Naoko looks at Jiro and you can see the love in her during one very emotional scene. It’s not simply written on her face, but it’s a very nuanced animation that let’s us share her emotional space.


The film is also very long. To the point that people who aren’t already fans of Studio Ghibli might dismiss it or review it poorly because it’s not suited for modern filmgoers who are looking for a quick laugh or memorable song. One of my first thoughts after the film was how it compared to Frozen, which is arguably one of the most popular animated films since the Lion King. I thought that The Wind Rises made Frozen look like a film for a child.

Frozen was beautiful and very well done, but there’s not much that can stand toe-to-toe with a film by Hayao Miyazaki; that’s simply the truth.


I decided to review this film in ImagiNERDing instead of my weekly look at the history of theme parks because the film is that important.

If you are an animation fan, you need to see this film and you owe it to yourself to see it in the theater.

It has received critical reviews in Japan and America and was the highest grossing film in Japan in 2013. Word of mouth will help the film, but getting adults to see an animated film is a challenge. It is rated PG-13, but there wasn’t anything that I felt was inappropriate for my eleven year-old. The PG-13 rating was assigned based on the prevalence of tobacco use and some disturbing images. Still, both of my sons (15 and 11) completely enjoyed the film. We brought one of my oldest son’s friends, who was not familiar with Studio Ghibli films, and he enjoyed it as well. My youngest son proclaimed that The Wind Rises was awesome. I have to agree.

I urge you to see The Wind Rises. It is simply one of the best animated films you will ever see.

Have you seen the Wind Rises? What is your favorite Studio Ghibli film?

Vintage Vacation Kingdom of the World Reproduction Print

Last year, Jeff and I reviewed a reproduction map of the Vacation Kingdom of the World. We were finally able to hang the print after having it framed and it is spectacular. Even friends who aren’t Walt Disney World fans are awed by the size and the artwork. The print is still available and is a wonderful gift for yourself or your favorite Walt Disney World enthusiast. Follow this link to receive a 10% discount!


The map really is huge! We have vaulted ceilings and the measurement is 60″ x 48″. The map to the left is opening Magic Kingdom and the one on the right is EPCOT Center.


The dark wooden frame helps the canvas print really pop.


Be prepared to spend more on the frame than the print. Using a high-quality framer is a must!


Do you have an awesome Walt Disney World collectible?

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  • TCL Chinese Theatre
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ImagiNERDing is written and edited by George Taylor

About George Taylor

George has been obsessed with Disney theme parks since the first time he saw a photo of the Haunted Mansion in the early 70s. He started writing about Disney in 2007 and has amassed one of the world's largest Disney-related libraries.

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Comments for ImagiNERDing Review: The Wind Rises by Hayao Miyazaki are now closed.

  1. I am disappointed that this review did not touch on the extremely sensitive subject matter of this film – something that, I believe, *has* to be taken into account when watching this film.

    I am one of the biggest Miyazaki fans there is, and I credit my living in Japan with seeing “Spirited Away” back in 2002 when I was ten years old. However, this latest film only whitewashes a great deal of the facts that this man built a plane whose successive iterations would later go on to massacre the very people who, under forced labor, built them – The Koreans and Chinese.

    Though there are touches and references to the destruction that Jiro’s planes would eventually bring, it is not delved into nearly enough as it should have been. Japan’s colonialism, slave labor, and terrible treatment of those non-Japanese workers is nothing short of absent. For a country that footnotes events like the Nanking Massacre in their textbooks, calls Korean “comfort women” who were raped and abused by Japanese soldiers a “necessity of war,” and has never issued a legitimate, heartfelt, formal apology that they didn’t later backtrack on, this movie is very difficult. In this context, we can see how it can be detrimental to the context in East Asia (especially as volatile as it has been recently).

    The Wind Rises is a beautifully animated movie, and it moved me to tears. I have yet to see the Disney version, just the Japanese version. I am sure Disney did a superb job with the film yet again. However, when I say it moved me to tears, I specifically mean the animation and the framework that the movie falls into in my life – It was the first Miyazaki movie I saw in theaters since coming from Japan (it was like a full circle type thing). However, it is a problematic movie, and I strongly suggest watching it with a very critical eye and understanding the context under which it was both created as well as the whitewashing that the period in which it was based goes under.

    With those things in mind, watch the movie. However, I cannot give my personal recommendation for one to see this movie based on the contents of it.

    • It sounds like you would have had Miyazaki make a different film. So many men have done so many horrible things on a governmental level over the centuries and not apologized for them. At least this poor man’s airplane wasn’t an atomic bomb, with nothing but destructive use.

      (I’m not planning to see the movie in a theater especially if it is long; I would rather watch it at home. I am sure the artwork is beautiful; it can’t not be. I would rather see Howl for the upteenth time, tho.)

      • You realize that’s what it was, right? His plane WAS a war plane specifically used to go to war. It is famed in East Asia as a plane of terror and destruction. It is what Koreans and Chinese consider as their equivalent of the atomic bomb. Please, research a bit before you comment.

  2. I disagree. I thought that the film did a good job of explaining Jiro’s predicament as a designer, who did work that he loved even if he didn’t agree with the ultimate use. As an engineer, I can definitely relate to that, and I’m sure that filmmakers are under similar pressure at times

    I also have to give Miyazaki credit for doing a more adult-oriented story, since this is a subject that Disney wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot pole. For what it was, I thought it did a good job of explaining the relevant information to the story. The highly-acclaimed Schindler’s List didn’t begin to scratch the surface of the various conflicts and injustices involved in that era, and I think that this one did a similar job of including information that was relevant to the story

    And I’m not sure what the country of Japan’s diplomatic policies have to do with the film from a Japanese studio. I don’t think the US has apologized for its wars, but that doesn’t stop our studios from creating films based on them. Yes, it would be great if everybody came clean, but that still wouldn’t undo what happened during those times

    • “I don’t think the US has apologized for its wars, but that doesn’t stop our studios from creating films based on them.”

      a very, very, very good point. thank you for raising it.

  3. I agree that the film is beautifully made. However, I found it overlong considering the fairly predictable nature of the story (particularly the love story). I, too, was troubled by the way the film only offhandedly commented on the use that Jiro’s beloved airplane was put to. Not a terrible movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but I wasn’t bowled over by it.

  4. Miyazaki’s latest work is one that is carefully scripted to place the story of Jiro within the context of the war. As such, the dawn of the war becomes a landscape to develop why Jiro did what he did — to create “a world with Pyramids” instead of one without. (The line “Do you prefer a world with pyramids, or with no pyramids?” ranks amongst one of the heaviest questions asked in the history of film in my view.) Upon initial viewing, I thought that, yes, the romance was predictable and the main character having no personality. But that’s where Miyazaki’s nuance really shines, I’ve come to realize. In the industry today where complex twists and caricatures with slight depth are deemed Oscar-worthy, I think it was refreshing to let the simplicity in Miyazaki’s work speak for itself.

    I believe napeterson18′s shallow analysis is indeed quite problematic as it simply follows the common “Japan was bad; Korea and China were the actual victims” narrative that oversimplifies the history quite a bit, which is exactly what Japan is also guilty of when discussing history. It’s not as simple as attributing the nationality of a person to which was good vs bad.

    You’d be highly underestimating the general population if you think the war references weren’t obvious enough. If napeterson18 wanted more references made regarding the Japanese imperialism, I suggest he recommend many works of literature/films/documentaries made by the Japanese, Korean, and the Chinese artists that deal with the atrocities committed in WWII. If an American makes a movie about the Khmer Rouge regime without mentioning the prior U.S. involvement, would it be whitewashing of the history? What if one makes a movie about Schindler without referencing the non-Jewish victims of the Holocaust? Is that whitewashing? I don’t think so. There are just SO MANY viewpoints and experiences of the war. Yes, Miyazaki may not have mentioned every victims of the era in his film but does he tout that Jiro’s story is the definitive representation of the years preceding WWII? No. Some may want to argue for that for the sake of furthering their denouncement of this film, but you’d be narrowing your vision.

  5. I went to see this tonight wholly based on your review. Absolutely breathtaking.