Kaze Tachinu is a Studio Ghibli film that was released in 2013. So, at the very least we can expect it to look pretty. It was directed and written by Miyazki Hayao. And he rarely turns in a film that isn’t good, although he has written some average ones. I’ve honestly heard mixed feelings on this one. Some people claim that it’s the pinnacle of his work, which would be a sight to see. Others say it’s not all that interesting. So, this film festival week, let’s take a look and decide.
The narrative of this is a bit odd. It combines the professional accomplishments of aircraft designer Horikoshi Jiro with the personal life of the protagonist from the short story The Wind Has Risen. So, we get a story that partially focuses on our young protagonist and his dreams of designing aircraft and that partially focuses on tragic young love.
Therein lies the biggest issue with the film. The elements don’t really tie together well. The tragic love story barely connects with the story of this young man following his dream and neither one ever impacts the other. The film is just very clumsy at trying to tie them together. Another issue is with the whole tragic love story stuff itself. It doesn’t have much going for it beyond very generic elements that every tragic love story seems to have. Even the connection betwixt the leads is pretty tenuous. The film is also quite clumsy with its attempt at having an anti-war message. Most of it consists of characters having kind of stilted, foreboding dialogue with occasional glimpses of World War II imagery. Which is odd since Miyazaki can incorporate anti-war rhetoric seamlessly into a narrative. At least, he did with Nausicaa. So why is this attempt so awkward?
The positives for this film are all with Horikoshi’s professional life. There’s a charm to the dreams that inspire him. Seeing the obstacles he has to get past is interesting. As are the encounters that inspire him to greater heights. If this had been the entire film, it could have had a strong story.
The big problem with the characters is much the same as the series. The whole tragic romance segments have no real sense of personality for the characters. You could literally change the names and character designs slightly for those segments, present them separately and you’d never guess from the characterisation that they were supposed to be a part of the same whole. So, we have uneven characterisation that’s different based on whether you’re watching the professional segments or the tragic romance segments.
This is one area where I can completely give the film credit. The artwork and animation are absolutely gorgeous. The dream sequences have some nice, creative imagery. The backgrounds are vibrant. It is, no question, a lovely looking film.
the vocal cast is mostly fine. There are two exceptions to that. The first is Stephen Alpert, the actor for Castorp. His delivery is pretty stilted and awkward. The second is the actor for our protagonist, Hideaki Anno. There are two problems here. The first is that he’s really miscast. Usually Studio Ghibli is good at finding capable actors who are roughly the age of the characters they’re voicing. In this case we have a young man who sounds like he’s in his sixties or seventies. There’s also an issue with the acting itself. It’s very emotionless and wooden. When the script calls for an emotional moment, the character’s facial expressions have to do the acting for him. The music is pretty decent. It’s definitely not Hisaishi Joe’s best work. He’s done better scores for Ghibli films. At least a half dozen times.
There really isn’t any.
It’s probably obvious by this point that this isn’t my favourite Miyazaki film. It certainly doesn’t compare to Nausicaa, Spirited Away or Mononoke Hime. While there are aspects that work, it also feels like two different works clumsily forced together. It’s an okay film, but certainly not one of Ghibli’s better offerings. My final rating for it is going to be a 6/10. Tomorrow we’ll continue film festival week with a look at Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki.