Sadly, for fans of animation master Hayao Miyazaki, his recent announcement that he is, indeed, retiring, is for real this time. And The Wind Rises, the story of aircraft designer Jiro Horikoshi was a gorgeously animated swan song for the maestro. If you’re waiting for the film to be released on Blu-Ray or DVD, you might enjoy The Art of The Wind Rises from ViZ Media.
Here, fans will get a chance to bask in the gorgeous backgrounds of the film, and dally leisurely in each plate. The book takes the reader nearly frame by frame through the film, with vivid and detailed descriptions of every shot. As I watch Miyazaki films, I always find myself catching my breath when a scene shifts and we’re treated to an establishing shot. This book gave me the chance to catch my breath and really live in each gorgeously painted frame.
Aside from the visual treats the book offers, there are countless interviews with the animators – and from them we glean more insight into the inspiration and design of the film. For instance, Supervising Animator Kitaro Kosaka reveals that the model for senior engineer Kurokawa is Miyazaki himself. And as for the horror of The Great Kanto Earthquake, it’s based on Miyazaki’s memories:
The scene with the crowds of fleeing people is vivid. Miyazaki’s experience seeing the beginning of the evacuation and living through the air raids in Utsunomiya when he was young was used in this scene. He says the view from high ground of the firebombs falling on Utsunomiya is still vivid in his memory.
For artists or art lovers that want to get truly granular in their discovery of the research and process of creating the film, you’ll find in-depth interviews with people like Color Designer Michiyo Yasuda, as well as pages devoted to the digital and analog production process.
It’s tempting, especially as a parent, to put this book on a high shelf away from tiny, grubby hands. It’s so beautiful and epic. But I encourage people with children to take a chance and leave it somewhere your kids can find it, and let them explore it at their own pace and in their own way. I have fond memories of poring over huge art books that my parents kept on a coffee table. One of them featured the background plates of early Disney movies. And I truly believe that thanks to the many hours I spent looking at those paintings and sketches, I garnered a higher and deeper appreciation of the work that goes into making animation, instead of just passively devouring cartoons.