The Dark Wind Rises

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.

Hayao Miyazaki And His Women

Watching Kari Gurashi no Arrietty by Studio Ghibli something occurred to me. Thinking back to my last year in high school where I watched almost all movies produced by Studio Ghibli until then (and by extension Hayao Miyazaki) the main character was “always” a female with strangely freakish history, fate or ability. Let’s “prove” this scientifically-ish … 🙂

Theory: Studio Ghibli movies by Hayao Miyazaki have this peculiarity of a strange/freakish main female character.

Data source: Wikipedia’s list of Studio Ghibli films from 1984-2014.

Let’s see how far we get. 🙂

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: pre Ghibli, but still … the heroine has a supernatural connection with the giant insect-like Ohmu … fulfilling an ancient prophecy for good measure. pass
Castle in the Sky: Sheeta is of royal decent from an ancient civilization building flying cities. pass
Grave of the Fireflies: not by Hayao Miyazaki … phew I had almost forgot about this one. 😛 skip
My Neighbor Totoro: two curious girls befriending ghosts/spirits/trolls of the forest. pass
Kiki’s Delivery Service: the main character is a witch running a delivery service. … need I say more? pass
Only Yesterday: not by Hayao Miyazaki again. 😛 skip
Porco Rosso: no “main” female character: strike 1!
Pom Poko: phew … not by Hayao Miyazaki … Tanuki to the rescue! 🙂 skip
Whisper of the Heart: … I don’t remember the plot any more … so, strike 2!
Princess Mononoke: raised-by-wolves warrior princess of the woods. pass
My Neighbors the Yamadas: haha … I was almost worried … not by Hayao Miyazaki 😀 skip
Spirited Away: Chihiro has to master her passage from childhood to adulthood in the spirit world … also falling in love with a boy-dragon-hybrid-formshifter-thing. pass
The Cat Returns: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but in this film the main character Haru is offered the hand of the Prince of the Cat Kingdom for saving him … too bad it doesn’t count. 🙂 skip/pass
Howl’s Moving Castle: The main character, Sophie, gets cursed and is transformed into an old woman. she works at the hand of the wizard Howl to remove the curse. pass
Tales from Earthsea: not by Hayao Miyazaki. skip
Ponyo: Let me quote the first line of the plot section in the Wikipedia article of the film “Brunhilde [also named Ponyo] is a fish-girl who lives with her father Fujimoto, a once-human wizard who now lives underwater, and her numerous smaller sisters.” pass
Arrietty: is only 10cm tall! pass
From Up on Poppy Hill: knowingly agreeing to incest (at least from what they knew at that time) … really?!? pass
The Wind Rises: tragic story, but no “main” female character. strike 3! 🙁
The Tale of Princess Kaguya: not by Hayao Miyazaki, but she starts out as a “miniature girl inside a glowing bamboo shoot” skip/pass
When Marnie Was There: not by Hayao Miyazaki … (not seen yet) skip

Summary: 21 Studio Ghibli films; 13 of them by/with Hayao Miyazaki; of which 10 fit the theory, with 3 “outliers” and 1 “unexamined” data point.

Not bad for a hunch. 😉

Update 14.09.2013:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing From Up on Poppy Hill.

Update 11.08.2014:
Updated the list and the summary after seeing The Wind Rises and the The Tale of Princess Kaguya.