The title of this anime is from two lines of a French poem that translates to:
The wind is rising! We must try to live!
This movie is based on a comic by Hayao Miyazaki. Originally he had wanted his last film to be a sequel to Ponyo, but was persuaded to do this film instead. I felt that this was a wonderful note to end his career on. The imagery was gorgeous, understated and won’t leave me for a while.
Latte and I watched this movie at the local non-AMC theater, the showing we went to was the subtitled showing (we had no idea) which suited us just fine. After seeing this movie, and reading a bit more, I’m really glad we went to this showing. I had no idea that the main character was voiced by one of anime’s great- Hideaki Anno. If you were into anime in the 90s, his name should be familiar as the genius behind Neon Genesis Evangelion (an anime that is brilliant that I sadly can’t watch anymore).
After the movie was over I was generally baffled at the number of young children in attendance. I know that children like watching animated things and are sometimes a lot smarter than we give them credit for, but I can’t image a 3 year old getting much about a subtitled film in a language she doesn’t know about a design engineer who designed a plane that was used in a war in her great-grandparents’ day against the country she was born into. Granted, there was no violence on screen and the war wasn’t even explicitly mentioned, it certainly hung in my mind throughout the film.
Most of the references to the war were from a German character who said pessimistic lines like “Germany will implode” between being a typical badly dressed German tourist who could sing. Interestingly enough, the character was voiced by an American, which, according to Latte, explains a lot about his accent. Latte studied German a bit under a native speaker (who we call “Frau Hottie” as Latte had a little crush on her).
The love story in the movie was very moving. I can’t say much about it without spoiling the ending of the film. While the female characters didn’t have as much screen time or force of personality as they often do in other Miyazaki films they don’t succumb to being mere plot devices. The main character’s sister has her own agenda and is a full character despite having little screen time.
In short, I highly recommend the film. It is beautiful, with a very human, uplifting, and enduring message. If you are any kind of a history nerd, as Latte and I both are, you will really enjoy the setting of the film and what you learn about pre-World War II Japan.