Wind Rises clip

Hayao Miyazaki, along with becoming the well-established premier creator of Japanese animation, has brought Japanese art and culture to American audiences in past decades like no one before him.  His films have expanded what audiences expect when they see animated films, challenging viewers with a balance of the dramatic and the humorous and at the same time offering films that can entertain children as well as adults.  Miyazaki recently announced he was no longer making full-length feature films and his last film, The Wind Rises, comes to theaters in the U.S. in February 2014.

Although most of his work has passed muster with both the box office and critics, Miyazaki has veered from the type of controversial films you might find in other major international directors, using myth and magic as tools to express ideas about relationships and the importance of the natural world.  His new film appears to verge from the norm, as he documents the life of real-life Japanese engineer Jiro Horikoshi from boyhood to adulthood.  Based on a short story by Japanese poet Hori Tatsuo, The Wind Rises follows Jiro through pre-World War II Japan, the country’s devastating 1923 earthquake, a tuberculosis epidemic, and hard economic times that preceded the war, as Jiro comes to be the creator of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter plane.  The Zero was one of Japan’s most well-known tools of the war, used in kamikaze operations and its most successful fighting plane, having a kill ratio of 12 to 1 at the height of Japan’s brief period of air superiority.

Wind Rises Jiro Zero

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