Tag Archives: Hayao Miyazaki

The Wind Rises (Kaze tachinu)

Director:  Hayao Miyazaki, Main Cast (voices): Hideaki AnnoMorio KazamaHidetoshi Nishijima;

the-wind-rises

So this is it: Miyazaki’s swan song. He brings together his great passion for airplanes with a recurrent Studio Ghibli’s theme: the pursuit of one’s dream. At odds with all his previous works, this film is an animated feature more for adults than children, being the biopic of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese aircraft engineer who developed the Zero (fighter plane used during World War II). Although it starts with a boy and his imagination, whose dream of becoming a pilot is impeded by his myopia, it evolves into a more serious and grounded story of a young man determined to become an aircraft engineer, who, in turns, matures into a talented designer of fighter planes. Miyazaki still delights us with his magic, giving it free reins representing Jiro’s dreams and a great character, Caproni, an Italian aeronautical engineer who appears as mentor and adviser in the dreams. On the other hand, the film also shows, very effectively, dramatic events such as the earthquake and the subsequent tsunami and firestorms that devastated the Kanto region and nearly destroyed Tokio in 1923. It is during this fateful day that Jiro, still a student at the time, crosses path for the first time with Nohoko, the girl who will become his wife years later. Miyazaki, while telling his hero’s story, only hints at the major historical events: Japan’s poverty, its race to armament (along with Germany), the rises of totalitarian governments, repression of dissent and war. It seems that the story, as well as Jiro, lives in a bubble and focuses only on making the best plane ever without really dealing with what it’s being built for. This is the major flaw of the movie and it is the drawback of telling a story grounded in reality when the author is so used to fantastic ones. The uses of planes for war is, indeed, briefly addressed and condemned but it feels like an afterthought, like Miyazaki realises too late that he cannot avoid making a statement. Anyway the film is still a pleasure to watch with its flawless animation and endearing characters. Miyazaki leaves us with a bittersweet ending, reminding us that the dream is over and it is time to wake up. Le vent se lève il faut tenter de vivre. 7.5/10

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Filed under Animation, Seen at the cinema

The Secret World of Arrietty

Director: Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Main Cast (voices):Bridgit MendlerAmy PoehlerWill ArnettDavid Henrie;

secret-world-of-arrietty

Notwithstanding the fact that he is not directing, this is still a Miyazaki’s story:  a boy and a girl meet and help each other, forming a deep bond in the meantime. This time, however, she is Tinker Bell’s size and she is a “borrower”, little people that take from the house of human beings where they live only what they need. Well, this is the first thing that left me a little nonplussed: borrowers are supposed to stay hidden and get from the humans the bare necessities…they are not very good at it and it looks like they splash out on their house, it reminds me of a hobbit’s hole. The other problem is the supporting characters (Arrietty’s parents, the housekeeper, the aunt) are too much Miyazaki’s stereotypes, nothing really new or endearing. The last issue I have with this film is the voice-over at the end, apparently it is only in the US version, too much Blade Runner theatrical release for my taste…I tend to prefer the director’s cut. So, as a fan of Miyazaki, I am somewhat disappointed, I had high expectations. The silver lining is the brief participation of a Jimsy-like borrower, really loved that. —5.5/10

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Filed under Animation, Seen at home