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Hayao Miyazaki's "The Wind Rises"

"The Wind Rises" has to be my favorite Miyazaki film since "My Neighbor Totoro."  While still whimsical, beautiful, and fantastic, "The Wind Rises" will be much more appreciated by adults than by children, which isn't always true for Miyazaki's work.  The story follows the career, aspirations, struggles, and romantic life of Jiro Horikoshi - a Japanese airplane engineer who designed aircraft for the Japanese military during WW II.  The film has themes of corrupt and flawed governments, life-threatening illness, and war, much of the dialogue about which might be a little bit lost on younger audiences.  But just because "The Wind Rises" is animated doesn't mean it cannot entrance adults.  It is a very artfully told story.  The scenes in which Jiro is dreaming are especially beautiful and really showcase Miyazaki's unique style.

My favorite parts about the film were the cast chosen for the voices of the main characters - John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt - as well as the use of human-generated sounds for many of the sound effects.  Everything from airplane engines, the starting up of airplane propellers, and even the sounds of an earthquake were all sound effects made with human mouths and vocalizations.  Pretty cool!  And it aided in the personification of the inanimate objects in the film.

Lastly, it might just be me, but there is a short scene in the film that I thought might be a reference to "My Neighbor Totoro."  I am aware that bus stops under street lights are a very common thing, and that children waiting at those bus stops for their parents are also probably a very common thing.  However, in this particular scene there was a little girl waiting under the street light with her little sister on her back with a little boy standing beside them.  I couldn't help but be reminded of Satsuki carrying May piggy-back style, with Totoro waiting beside them in the rain.  Maybe I am crazy, but it seemed like an intentional reference!  All that being said, I definitely recommend "The Wind Rises" - especially if you are a fan of Hayao Miyazaki, airplanes, or just a well-told story in general.

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