Anime Film Review: The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises is a film released by Studio Ghibli and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. This film has the distinction of being the final one Miyazaki directed before announcing his retirement from directing anime films.

The Wind Rises

Publisher: Buena Vista Home Entertainment
Format: DVD
Release Date: November 18, 2014

The film takes place over a number of years and leads up to World War II. The story focuses on a young man named Jiro Horikoshi, who dreamed of becoming a pilot as a child, but realized that his nearsightedness prevented him from achieving his dream. He starts having dreams that feature an Italian aircraft designer named Giovanni Battista Caproni, and Jiro decides to pursue designing planes instead of flying them.

In 1923, while traveling on a train to Tokyo Imperial University, Jiro meets a girl named Naoko and her maid. The Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 strikes, and Jiro is the one who leads Naoko and her maid to safety. It’s revealed later in the film that this is the start of a mutual attraction between Jiro and Naoko.

Admittedly, the early part of the film takes a while to get going. However, these early scenes are important for setting up the story that happens later in the film. In addition to Jiro meeting Naoko, we also see him getting through his time in college in order to be able to pursue his dream of designing planes.

The story begins to move once Jiro and his friend Kiro Honjo graduate from college and begin working at Mitsubishi to design a fighter plane. Over the next few years, Jiro deals with some disappointments and setbacks on the work front, and in 1933, he decides to go to a resort and rest. Here, he has a chance encounter with Naoko, and the two of them realize their feelings for each other. But Naoko contracted tuberculosis from her mother, who died of the disease a few years earlier. Jiro wants to marry Naoko, and she accepts the engagement on the condition that she doesn’t want to marry until she has recovered.

At this point, the film becomes a story of a man who is devoted to both his work and to the woman he loves. But these two sides of his life intertwine when Naoko decides to leave the sanatorium she’s staying at in order to be with Jiro. The emotions Jiro must face with Naoko’s health and the responsibilities of his job are what fuel the drama for the remainder of the film.

In the end, The Wind Rises is a decent film, but it’s not as strong as some of Miyazaki’s other films. It takes the story a while to get going, but after it does get going, it ends up feeling rushed near the end. But even with the pacing issues, the viewer can still tell that Miyazaki put a lot of heart into this film. The characters are also very relatable, which helps to offset some of the pacing issues the film has.

Jiro is voiced by Hideaki Anno, who is best known as the creator of the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime. I have to admit that I was unsure about this casting choice, since Anno isn’t known as a voice actor, but I was impressed by his performance in this film. He had the perfect sound for a character like Jiro, and he didn’t sound bad at all.

When it comes to the animation, it looks very lush. I appreciated the color choices used for the film, especially when it comes to the backgrounds. And the film definitely looks like a Miyazaki film, between the character designs and the overall feel of the animation.

When it comes to the DVD release for The Wind Rises, Buena Vista didn’t go to much effort when it came to the bonus features. The only item included was a “Behind the Microphone” documentary, which runs for 11 minutes and includes interviews with the director and the voice actors for the English dub. This was what I have come to expect from the other “Behind the Microphone” features that I have seen on other Disney releases of Studio Ghibli films, with the biggest difference being the acknowledgement of Miyazaki’s retirement from directing feature films.

In the end, The Wind Rises will hold a place in anime history since it’s the final film that Hayao Miyazaki directed before his retirement from feature films. While it may not be quite as strong of a work as Miyazaki’s other films, it should still be seen by fans of Studio Ghibli and Miyazaki in order to see his final film.

The reviewer checked out a copy of the DVD through the King County Library System

GKids to Release Only Yesterday in Theaters in North America

North American film distributor GKids has announced that it will release Studio Ghibli and Isao Takahata’s film Only Yesterday in theaters in North America in 2016.

The film will receive an English dub. The cast includes Daisy Ridley, Dev Pate, Ashley Eckstein, and Alison Fernandez.

In addition to the theatrical rights, GKids has also licensed the non-theatrical, home video, and television rights for the film.

Only Yesterday, a film about a big city “office lady” who returns to the countryside, debuted in Japan in 1991. GKids’ theatrical release will correspond with the film’s 25th anniversary. It has not previously been released in North America.

Source: ANN

When Marnie Was There Earns $500K in U.S. Theaters

Box Office Mojo is reporting that Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There earned US$41,664 on 33 screens in its seventh week at U.S. box office, bringing its total to US$513,205 as of July 9, 2015.

By comparison, Studio Ghibli’s previous animated film The Tale of Princess Kaguya earned $501,888 after eight weeks at the U.S. box office in December 2014, although the film opened on fewer screens in total.

When Marnie Was There earned US$27,388 in the U.S. from May 22-24, 2015 when it opened in the IFC Center in New York and the Landmark Nuart in Los Angeles on May 22. Additional theaters screened the film in the following weeks.

Source: ANN

Hayao Miyazaki Makes a CG-Animated Short for the Ghibli Museum

Studio Ghibli’s Goro Miyazaki revealed at a talk show event on June 16, 2015 that his father, Studio Ghibli co-founder Hayao Miyazaki, is making a CG-animated short for the Ghibli Museum. At the event, Goro Miyazaki said, “Now, Hayao Miyazaki is trying to make a short with CG to screen at the Ghibli Museum. He gets bored when his goal is maintaining [the Ghibli Museum], so he needs things to fiddle around with.”

Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki also revealed at a lecture in Tokyo on July 10, 2015 that the short will be 10-minutes long, but added that it took three years to complete. The new work will be Hayao Miyazaki’s first CG-animated work.

Source: ANN

Studio Ghibli Unveils Taiko no Tatsujin Anime Short

Studio Ghibli producer and co-founder Toshio Suzuki unveiled a new 30-second animated short at an event in Tokyo on June 25, 2015. Suzuki and Studio Ghibli produced the short to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Taiko no Tatsujin (Taiko: Drum Master) rhythm game series. Katsuya Kondo, the animation director for Kiki’s Delivery Service and Ponyo, organized and animated the short.

The short features Taiko no Tatsujin characters Don-chan and Kacchan, as well as an original mouse character. The short will also be broadcast as a TV ad.

I am embedding a copy of the short below, and I apologize in advance to any of my readers who are unable to see it due to region blocking.

Source: ANN

When Marnie Was There Earns US$85,842 in its Fourth U.S. Weekend

Box Office Mojo is reporting that Studio Ghibli’s When Marnie Was There anime film earned US$85,842 after opening in 28 more theaters in its fourth weekend in the U.S. This puts the film’s total gross to date at US$317,096.

The film earned US$27,388 in its U.S. opening weekend on May 22, 2015 after opening in two theaters. The film opened in nine more theaters in the U.S. in its second weekend and earned US$40,282. The film earned US$77,452 after opening in 25 more theaters in its third weekend in the U.S. The screening will expand to more cities in the coming weeks.

GKids describes the story of When Marnie Was There as:

Sent from her foster home in the city one summer to a sleepy town by the sea in Hokkaido, Anna dreams her days away among the marshes. She believes she’s outside the invisible magic circle to which most people belong – and shuts herself off from everyone around her, wearing her “ordinary face.” Anna never expected to meet a friend like Marnie, who does not judge Anna for being just what she is. But no sooner has Anna learned the loveliness of friendship than she begins to wonder about her newfound friend…

Source: ANN

Ghibli Producer Yoshiaki Nishimura Is Working at New Studio

Studio Ghibli producer Yoshiaki Nishimura is now working at a new studio titled Studio Ponoc, as of April 15, 2015. Studio Ponoc runs separately from Studio Ghibli.

Studio Ponoc is currently assisting with the West Japan Railway Company’s “Summer Train” campaign by producing a television ad. Nishimura is serving as producer for the ad, Yoshiyuki Momose is serving as animation director and director, and Yuugo Kanno is serving as composer and music producer.

Nishimura took over as producer for Studio Ghibli films after Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki retired in March 2014.

When Studio Ghibli was asked about Nishimura’s status with the company now that he’s working with Studio Ponoc, the studio’s PR department said that Nishimura was a member of Ghibli. The company added, “Depending on the [animated] work, he has handled duties as a producer, but we don’t know about the future.”

Source: ANN