His fans have waited five years for his next film, but Hayao Miyazaki has made a bold and vastly different choice for his newest film, Kaze Tachinu (“The Wind Rises”), opening in Japanese theaters on July 20. Instead of a fantastic world and otherworldly creatures, viewers can expect a story based on reality, but is still about pursuing dreams and discovering love, even in the aftermath of disaster and on the brink of war.
Miyazaki based Jiro, the film’s protagonist, on two people: Jiro Horikoshi, who designed the Zero fighter planes the Japanese Imperial Army used in World War II, and writer Tatsuo Hori, who wrote a novel with the same title as that of the movie. The award-winning anime filmmaker said that he chose to situate his story in a difficult period in Japanese history because during those times, people have no choice but to “live as sincerely as possible no matter where they are.”
Jiro is just a simple but industrious engineer whose dream is to design a plane that would change the world. His mission in life is to “do what he can with utmost sincerity,” something that he shares with Hori’s beliefs. Miyazaki merged the two persons he had great admiration for into a single character that would hopefully make the audience think about what they’re living for, even if the characters lived in the early 20th century.
Even though his characters are based on reality and his settings are grounded in the real world, he was still able to depict these “real” scenes with dynamic touches without resorting to using gruesome images to depict the war and the disaster. He said he is not using historical episodes just to make his settings look real and he doesn’t want to see the war commercialized and depicted so graphically. While his regular fans may feel a bit left out or disappointed that there are no creatures or monsters this time around, he says that some have already told him that “seeing something difficult to understand can sometimes be meaningful.”
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