The Wind Rises — released in Japan as Kaze Tachinu — is a 2013 Japanese animated historical drama film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, and adapted from his own manga of the same name which was loosely based on the 1937 short story The Wind Has Risen by Tatsuo Hori, a writer, poet, and translator from mid-20th century (Showa period) Japan.
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The film is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi (1903–1982), designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and its successor, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero; both aircraft were used by the Empire of Japan during World War II.
The film was released by Toho on July 20, 2013, in Japan, and was released by Touchstone Pictures in North America, first with a limited release on February 21, 2014, then a wide release on February 28, 2014.
The Wind Rises was the highest-grossing Japanese film in Japan in 2013 and received critical acclaim from film critics. It won and was nominated for several awards, including nominations for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film, and the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year.
In early 1918, a young boy living in a provincial town, Jiro Horikoshi, has a dream about climbing up onto his roof and flying away in a bird-like airplane, while wearing aviator goggles. After a while, a large, monstrous ship emerges from the clouds, and drops some anthropomorphic bombs on him. His plane is destroyed, and he plummets to the ground, then wakes up. Borrowing an English-language aviation magazine, he diligently studies it with an English dictionary, then has another dream where he meets Italian plane designer Caproni, who is surprised that a Japanese boy has intruded in what he thought was his own dream, then realizes that airplanes are a shared dream they both have. Caproni tells Jiro that he can't fly a plane with glasses, but that building planes is better than flying them. Jiro wakes up and decides he will build planes.
Five years later, Jiro is at university to study engineering. On traveling back to Tokyo from a holiday, he meets a young girl named Naoko, who is traveling with her maid. At this time, the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 hits, which stops the train and causes Naoko's maid to break her leg. Jiro delivers Naoko and her maid to Naoko's family, then walks away without giving his name. He arrives at his university and fights to save engineering books as Caproni's voice cheers him on.
Jiro begins working at an airplane manufacturer, assigned to a fighter design team. Their project ends in failure, with the company losing the design contract to a rival company. With no immediate projects to take on, he is sent to Germany to do technical research and to obtain a production license for a Junkers aircraft. He argues with German soldiers and witnesses a night raid by German secret police. During the journey, he again dreams of Caproni, who asks him, "Do you prefer a world with pyramids, or with no pyramids?" implying that airplanes, like pyramids, are a thing of beauty and wonder. Even if mankind might inevitably twist them to ugly purposes, Caproni believes that the world is better for having that beauty.
In 1932, he is promoted to chief designer for a fighter plane competition sponsored by the Navy, which ends in a failure. Disappointed, Jiro visits a summer resort where he runs into Naoko again; they are engaged soon after. A German man privately critical of Adolf Hitler assists the romance before fleeing a feared arrest by Japanese authorities. Naoko is afflicted with tuberculosis, and refuses to marry until she recovers.
After some months, Jiro is assigned again as chief designer for another Navy competition, living at his supervisor's home to evade unwanted police attention. At the same time, Naoko is recuperating in an alpine sanatorium obliquely related to the locale of The Magic Mountain, but she cannot bear being apart from Jiro and resolves to return and marry him. Jiro's hosts perform an impromptu traditional wedding. Jiro's sister complains that his marriage to Naoko will end badly, as, having become a doctor, she is well aware of the incurable nature of tuberculosis. Jiro counters with the argument that every day is precious to Naoko and that what he does, he does for her.
Even though Naoko's health continues to deteriorate, she and Jiro enjoy their life together, the one lending strength to the other, right up to the day of the test flight of the prototype of what would become his first successful aircraft, the Mitsubishi A5M. On that day, after Jiro leaves for the factory, Naoko informs the company housing manager's wife that she feels strong enough to take a walk. Her departure is witnessed by Jiro's sister, who fears that this represents a desire on Naoko's part to spare Jiro the horror of her final dissolution in the coils of the disease – a fear which is borne out in three letters which Naoko leaves for her husband, family, and friends. At the test site, Jiro is interrupted by a burst of wind – seemingly implying that his wife has died.
The film ends in a dream sequence with Jiro emerging from the horror of war, feeling regret for his inventions and the deaths they caused. Caproni tells him his dreams were nonetheless realized. Naoko appears in this dream one last time, exhorting her husband to live on in the trust she has in him.
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