I was surprised. The Wind Rises is a very dark story told in bright colors.
The plot seems innocuous, but at its core is about two sick souls.
One, Jiro, is obsessed with building airplanes and has vivid “dreams” about it since he was young. He is curious and helps others, but his mind wanders around and he’s a serious workaholic. It so happens that it’s leading up to WWII and the only way to build planes is for war.
The other one, Nahoko, is revealed to be terminally ill. None the less she enjoys life painting and being mindful of the beauty of life (e.g. in the scene at the spring). As the story mostly follows Jiro there isn’t much told about her thoughts and feelings.
After meeting once during an earthquake in which Jiro helps her and her maid. They meet again many years later in a summer resort. They fall in love and get engaged.
Now the tragedy unfolds. She won’t marry him until she’s cured, he accepts. Working away he’s constantly worried, leaving work regularly to see her. She finally decides to recuperate in a alpine sanatorium, which she flees from to be with him. He’s wanted by the secret police, hiding with her in his supervisor’s home. They marry. She’s bedridden, he’s engulfed in his work. At least they’re together now. 🙂
They exists at the same time in the same place, but are worlds apart.
In this Jiro represent active, Nahoko passive destruction … Jiro man-made, Nahoko natural … Jiro outward, Nahoko inward. You can watch it eat them up little by little. The only glim of hope seems to be a few genuine moments of love, mindfully spending time with each other, fading out the world around them for a short period of time. But sadly even these moments are insufficient to overcome their sicknesses.
In the end both get consumed by them. Nahoko succumbs to her illness and dies a physical death, in a way leaving the spirit to live in the absolute, in the afterlife. Jiro on the other hand–alive in this world–dies a spiritual death having sold his soul (“ten years”) (losing his soul mate in consequence) and is trapped in the virtual, in this dream of his. She reaches out to him a last time (“You must live”), but he doesn’t understand (“Arigatou”). :'(
Both die in a way, leaving the physical world behind, but in ways that can’t be reconciled. They can’t be together, never!
Very sad and gloomy.