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February 28th, 2014

The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu)

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Martin Short, Stanley Tucci, Mandy Patinkin, Mae Whitman, Zach Callison, Jennifer Gray, and more.

Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki Screenplay and comic by: Hayao Miyazaki Music by: Joe Hisaishi

Premise: As a boy, Jiro always dreamed of planes and flying. But Jiro is nearsighted and will never fly. Yet in his dreams, Giovanni Caproni, the famous Italian aeronautical engineer, encourages him not to worry about flying, and instead to ride the wind and create beautiful flying machines instead. Having found his calling, Jiro strives toward his goal while also living through several major moments in Japan's history. He even finds love along the way. (Rated PG-13)


(This review is of the dubbed version of the film. Depending on your area, you can find "The Wind Rises" playing in the original Japanese with subtitles at the local art theaters.)

1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: Walt Disney picked a great cast for the dubbed version of the Studio Ghibli film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was very convincing as the voice of Jiro Horikoshi, very reserved yet deeply passionate in both his dreams and his goals. Emily Blunt brought some nice depth to Jiro's love Nahoko. By far, however, the character that will make the most impact is Mr. Kurokawa, played by Martin Short. Between the visuals of the man and Martin Short's portrayal of Jiro's boss, the character was a lot of fun.

2) Artwork/Animation - Total Thumbs Up: Studio Ghibli was in top form with this film. With Miyazaki directing it, it couldn't be otherwise. Strangely though, the longer the film went, the more beautiful it became. The characters themselves are in Miyazaki's signature style. The watercolor backdrops were gorgeous. The rooms, clothing, and machinery were all rendered in amazing detail.

Where the animation truly shines is in the sequences where reality and fantasy merge. As we head toward the climax it isn't the dream anymore showing the world, but the world being swept up by the dreams. As the film's title denotes, wind plays a metaphorical and physical part in events. The theme of wind even stems from the early days of Japan when a 'divine wind' saved the Japanese people from the invading fleets of Mongols. More ironic is the fact that the 'divine winds' or 'kamikaze' also played a part with the very planes Horikoshi developed for the Japanese navy.

3) Plot/Story - Total Thumbs Up: While this is a heavily fictionalized biography of the life of Jiro Horikoshi, Miyazaki imbued it with a lot of passion. It's also a great way to experience the lives of the Japanese during the years between World War I and World War II.

Miyazaki incorporated subtle touches of Japanese mythology into the work as well. The Great Kanto Earthquake and several other moments in the film had what can only be described as the sounds of the spirits which inhibit the land of Japan. These sounds added an extra layer to the world, and made it all the richer for it.

"The Wind Rises" is an adult film, one that builds over time, so there won't be much there for the younger viewers. The guys will love all the planes (Italian, German, and Japanese) as well as the engineering, while the gals will enjoy the beautiful vistas as well as the love story woven around it. (I heavily encourage taking tissues to this one.)

There are a lot of themes in the film, many of which are quite subtle - sacrifice, invention, looking to the future, living in the moment, the power of dreams.

Conclusion: "The Wind Rises" is another great film by Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. Beautiful and intriguing, it is a film for adults rather than children. The film is rather sedentary, so don't expect a lot of action. But definitely bring some tissues...just in case.

Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Worth Full Price of Admission)

Gloria Oliver
Unveiling the Fantastic



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The King is Dead! Long Live the Undead King!

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The magister glided forward and scrunched down beside him.

"That in order to bathe, you must first actually get into the bath."


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It took everything from her, except revenge!

The muscles in my right arm jerked from tension as I tried to make it move and it resisted. A shrill scream inside my head insisted I didn't want to do this. That if I did, there'd be no way to take it back. "I...I'm afraid."


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Which is worse…the monster without or within?


Home—family—the two things he would never have, the two things forever denied him…because of her.

Anger welled inside him, the heat of it suffusing him to the core, gurgling with seething emotions the total opposite of the coolness splashing down from the fountain nearby. Before he realized what he was doing, Jarrin stepped inside the gazebo.

(2007) Young Adult – Fantasy
“Harry Potter meets Dragon Riders of Pern”


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Kel slowly shook his head. “It’s all right. Thanks anyway.” His voice lowered to where she almost couldn’t hear it. “This is all part of my punishment.’

She frowned, not understanding what he meant. “Punishment?”

Kel cocked his head in Clarence’s direction. In a flash, she understood. None of this was an accident. Clarence had landed there deliberately, hoping to make Kel pay for all he went through in the past month. She shook her head, not wanting to believe this, but what the dragon said next took any doubts right out of her head.

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“To save the world she must DIE! Or must she?”


Panic and fear filled with utter helplessness made her dizzy. She knew what would be done with her, she knew what they planned. But there was nothing she could do to stop any of it.

Sharp gasps echoed in her ears as she felt the room’s cold air caress the Eye.

“You were right. She is the one.”

(2002) Adult/YA – Japanese Fantasy Adventure
“The Last Samurai meets Pirates of the Caribbean”


Laying the blade on the floor before him, Toshi parted his kimono until his stomach lay exposed. He tucked his sleeves beneath his legs to hold him upright if he should falter. Ignoring Asano, he took up the blade. His shoulder flared with pain and he tried not to flinch, as he grabbed the blade with both hands. He turned the wakizashi until its sharp point was aimed at his belly, the residence of his soul.

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Torren took a step back a sudden shudder racking through him. It was as if he’d never left, as if the boy he’d been would be coming back-though the one who’d loved this room and all these things was long, long dead. That boy died when he’d watched his father’s blood pour forth from his mouth, the end of a sword protruding from his abdomen. That boy died when he survived while everyone else lay dead.

Info, sample chapters, and free reads at www.gloriaoliver.com

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