The Wind Rises: Historical PerspectiveFebruary 22, 2015
The Wind Rises (風立ちぬ Kaze Tachinu) is the last feature-length film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Miyazaki unsuccessfully tried to retire several times before, but this time it is real: no more major films, but he’ll continue to work on small projects. In this article, I mention some historical context related to the film, show selected pictures, and share my impressions. If you have not seen the film, please beware of the spoilers, but the trailers left nothing to the imagination, so you probably already know everything! It is not Miyazaki’s best work, but is worth watching.
During World War II, Miyazaki’s father, Katzuji Miyazaki (Abt. 1915 – 18 March 1993), a Japanese aeronautical engineer living near Tokyo, the Director of family firm Miyazaki Airplane during World War II, also managed a munitions factory to help a sickly uncle. Here is a list of Miyazaki’s inventions. According to Ichimura, the representative of Art Box which edits the Model Graphix, Scale Aviation, Armour Modeling, and several other magazines in this vein, the factory produced windshields and vertical tails for the Zero fighter. It’s not known whether this is the reason but Miyazaki seriously intended to purchase a Zero fighter from the US. But his wish was not fulfilled due to Japanese law and the objection of his family.
Then he tried to make a movie of the Zero fighter, but his ambition gradually faded. Then he drew the manga “Kaze Tachinu” in Model Graphix. “Kaze Tachinu” was a story of the Zero fighter at first, but it became a story of the KA-14 after many complications. The manga version of “Kaze Tachinu” official title is “Kaze Tachinu Mousou Came Back”. In other words, it means Miyazaki’s mousou (delusion) came back again from Tigers in the Mud, which is another WWII-based manga by Miyazaki, as “Kaze Tachinu” (Source).
Giovanni Battista Caproni, 1st Count of Taliedo (1886-1957), known as “Gianni” Caproni, was an Italian aeronautical engineer, civil engineer, electrical engineer, and aircraft designer who founded the Caproni aircraft-manufacturing company.
Caproni was an early proponent of the development of passenger aircraft, and developed a variant of the Ca.4 bomber into the Ca.48 airliner. Although it made a very favorable impression on the public when first displayed, the Ca.48 probably never entered airline service, and on August 2, 1919, a Ca.48 crashed near Verona, Italy, killing everyone on board (14, 15, or 17 people, according to various sources) in Italy ’s first commercial aviation disaster and one of the earliest – and, at the time, the deadliest – airliner accidents in history. In 1921, he built the prototype of a giant transatlantic passenger seaplane, the Caproni Ca.60 Noviplano, with a capacity of 100 passengers, but it proved unstable and crashed on its first flight.
The Caproni company produced aircraft for the Regia Aeronautica (Italian Royal Air Force) during World War II – primarily bombers, transports, seaplanes, and trainers, although the Caproni Vizzola subsidiary also built several fighter prototypes.
The manga is loosely based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi (堀越 二郎, 22 June 1903 – 11 January 1982), the chief engineer of many Japanese fighter designs of World War II, including the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter. Unlike the film, the real Jiro had five children, but none of them pursued a career in aircraft design or engineering.
When we awoke on the morning of December 8, 1941, we found ourselves — without any foreknowledge — to be embroiled in war… Since then, the majority of us who had truly understood the awesome industrial strength of the United States never really believed that Japan would win this war. We were convinced that surely our government had in mind some diplomatic measures which would bring the conflict to a halt before the situation became catastrophic for Japan. But now, bereft of any strong government move to seek a diplomatic way out, we are being driven to doom. Japan is being destroyed. I cannot do [anything] other but to blame the military hierarchy and the blind politicians in power for dragging Japan into this hellish cauldron of defeat. – Jiro Horikoshi, Zero! The Story of Japan’s Air War in the Pacific.
Wind Has Risen (風立ちぬ Kaze Tachinu）, a Japanese novel by Hori Tatsuo, written between 1936–37. It is set in a tuberculosis sanitarium in Nagano, Japan. The plot follows the condition of the female character’s illness.
Μή, φίλα ψυχά, βίον ἀθάνατον
σπεῦδε, τὰν δ’ ἔμπρακτον ἄντλει μαχανάν.
Pindare, Pythiques, III.
Roughly translated: Search not for the immortality, but use the practical means at your disposal.
Reading in French
Reading in English (incomplete)
The wind is rising! . . . We must try to live!
The huge air opens and shuts my book: the wave
Dares to explode out of the rocks in reeking
Spray. Fly away, my sun-bewildered pages!
Break, waves! Break up with your rejoicing surges
This quiet roof where sails like doves were pecking.
“Kaze tachinu, iza ikimeyamo.” Various people pointed out to say that this seems to be a mistranslation for some reason. It seems to be a meaning “wind begins to blow. We must try to live” by the literal translation. But Tasuo Hori translated it “kaze tachinu” (wind rised) in past tense. “Iza ikimeyamo” is ironic, it means “Let’s live. No, let’s die.” A debate seems to continue all the time in Japanese literature history about why he did such a mistranslation. We were troubled, but thought that it is equivalent to respect to Tatsuo Hori to just use it (Source).
Where can I find the English translation of the novel “Wind Has Risen” (風立ちぬ Kaze Tachinu）by Hori Tatsuo?
The Columbia Anthology of Modern Japanese Literature,Vol. 1
edited by J. Thomas Rimer and Van C. Gessel. 2005 pp. 375-414. (Source)
The novel is based on the true story of Tatsuo Hori’s fiancee, Ayako Yano, who died of pulmonary tuberculosis. However, eventually he did marry Taeko Hori (1913-2010). In the film, the female character is not named Ayako though – it is Naoko, which is another novel by Tatsuo Hori.
Great Kantō earthquake (1923)
– This earthquake devastated Tokyo, the port city of Yokohama, and the surrounding prefectures of Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, and caused widespread damage throughout the Kantō region
– Estimated casualties totaled about 142,800 deaths, including about 40,000 who went missing and were presumed dead
– The single greatest loss of life was caused by a fire tornado that engulfed the Rikugun Honjo Hifukusho (formerly the Army Clothing Depot) in downtown Tokyo, where about 38,000 people were incinerated after taking shelter there following the earthquake.
– The earthquake broke water mains all over the city, and putting out the fires took nearly two full days until late in the morning of September 3. An estimated 6,400 people were killed and 381,000 houses were destroyed by the fire alone.
– Over 570,000 homes were destroyed, leaving an estimated 1.9 million homeless.
– The damage is estimated to have exceeded US$1 billion (or about $14 billion today
– In the confusion after the quake, mass murder of Koreans by mobs occurred in urban Tokyo and Yokohama, fueled by rumors of rebellion and sabotage. See documentaries by Chongkong Oh: Hidden Scars: The Massacre of Koreans from the Arakawa River Bank to Shitamachi in Tokyo (1983), The Disposed-of Koreans: The Great Kanto Earthquake and Camp Narashino (1986).
– Beginning in 1960, every September 1 is designated as Disaster Prevention Day to commemorate the earthquake and remind people of the importance of preparation, as September and October are the middle of the typhoon season.