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"All I wanted to do was make something beautiful."
August 15, 2013 7:37 AM   Subscribe

An English-subtitled trailer is now available for Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli's latest film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu), which will premiere to English-speaking audiences at this year's Toronto International Film Festival.

The film is a loosely-adapted biography of Jirō Horikoshi, designer of the infamous Mitsubishi A6M Zero, the fighter responsible for Japan's air superiority early in World War II. The film has ruled the Japanese box offices in the weeks following its recent release there, perhaps in part thanks to Mr. Miyazaki's public criticism of recent efforts to reform the Japanese constitution. Miyazaki, a staunch pacifist, particularly opposes the current administration's position towards revising Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, which prohibits the nation from maintaining a standing military force:
Miyazaki clearly places responsibility on the “militarist government” for leading Japan to violent expansion and then to ruin, but also interrogates the war responsibility of his family and by extension, the wider civilian population. Kaze Tachinu protagonist Horikoshi, an engineer who had no choice but to work for the military if he wanted to continue to design airplanes, is seen by Miyazaki as an important figure for understanding the pressures felt by civilians in wartime and grasping “just how messed-up this country really was.”
It remains to be seen how other audiences will react to a film that is both anti-war and a love letter to a warplane. The Wind Rises does not yet have a US release date.
posted by Sokka shot first (67 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a recent South China Morning Post article on this which has a great bit from an older interview with Miyazaki
“My wife and staff would ask me, ‘Why make a story about a man who made weapons of war?’” Miyazaki said in a 2011 interview with Japan’s Cut magazine. “And I thought they were right. But one day, I heard that Horikoshi had once murmured, ‘All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful.’ And then I knew I’d found my subject… Horikoshi was the most gifted man of his time in Japan. He wasn’t thinking about weapons… Really all he desired was to make exquisite planes.
This definitely fits with Miyazaki's love of planes.

Fun facts:
  • During WWII, Hayao Miyazaki's father, Katsuji Miyazaki, was the director of Miyazaki Airplane, which was owned by his brother (Hayao's uncle). This company made the rudders for Zero fighter planes.
  • In high school, Hayao decides he wants to become a comic artist but--having previously drawn only planes and battleships--finds he can't draw people.)
posted by filthy light thief at 7:58 AM on August 15, 2013 [8 favorites]


Kaze Tachinu Called a "Right Wing Japanese Movie" in South Korea
Kaze Tachinu follows the life of Jiro Horikoshi, who created the iconic World War II fighter plane, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero. That plane wrecked havoc all throughout Asia, destroying villages and killing people. That being said, Miyazaki doesn't exactly seem to be the chest thumping, war mongering Japanese imperialist? He's anything but.

The anger over the war, however, runs deep, and J-Cast reports that online in South Korea, the movie is being attacked. Some are apparently saying the movie glorifies Japanese imperialism. The plane itself is seen as problematic: Besides those it killed, there's anger saying that Mitsubishi used forced Korean and Chinese labor to manufacture it.

"Depicting oneself as the victim and portraying the calamity of war, but failing to point out the cause: Japan's typical masturbatory cinema," wrote one Korean net user, according to J-Cast. Another commenter said if there's a movie about Jiro Horikoshi, then why not premiere an anime about Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb?

Keep in mind that the movie is set before the plane goes into battle. Also, it's not out in South Korea yet.
It should be noted that Miyazaki has sympathized with the plight of Koreans during the war, particularly on the issue of comfort women:
In a recent interview with Studio Ghibli's own publicity pamphlet Neppu, the 72 year-old Miyazaki said, "For the comfort woman issue, because it’s a question of each nation's pride, a proper apology should be given and suitable reparations should be paid."

During World War II, the Japanese military created prostitution corps called "ianfu" (慰安婦), which is typically translated as "comfort women".

Conservatives in Japan are often quick to point out that Japanese politicians, prime ministers, and the Emperor have apologized numerous times for Japanese atrocities during the war. Compensation has been awarded; however, there's debate over whether it was a suitable amount and whether or not these apologies were fitting.

The topic of comfort women is a sensitive issue in Japan—and the rest of Asia.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:59 AM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's hard to separate the elegance, beauty, skill, bravery and other positive characteristics of anything connected with war from one's view of the side on whose behalf the materiel or operation were deployed. From what little I know of the Zero, it was a great plane, but it's easy to imagine Miyazaki being slammed for admiring it, even in the context of his typically heavy-handed condemnation of war.

Perhaps if Japan had won, then this film would be as unobjectionable there as the various "raid on Bin Laden" flicks are in the U.S. (The raid was, I understand, daring and demanding of great precision, skill and bravery by the people who carried it out, entirely without regard to whether you think it was justified and/or wise.)

But consider the U.S. reaction to a film that examined the coordination, skill, bravery and luck of the 9/11 hijackers. You couldn't make a film like that here -- I bet you'd get far worse treatment than Miyazaki has / will. For all the scorn the west heaps on, e.g., the fatwas against Salman Rushdie and the Jyllands-Posten cartoonists, I wouldn't bet against the untimely and gory demise of a western filmmaker who released an even-handed 9/11 documentary.
posted by spacewrench at 8:02 AM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


It looks like a beautiful and moving film. My kids love Studio Ghibli movies, although this one probably won't be on their list of films to see, I hope they do watch it.
posted by cell divide at 8:19 AM on August 15, 2013


While understanding that my perspective of the war and its horrific impact on the peoples of E/SE Asia is extremely limited, my feeling is that Miyazaki has long ago earned his pacifist credentials and I trust him to approach the subject with his usual grace.
posted by Think_Long at 8:26 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


spacewrench I'm not sure your analogy really works, beyond the very basic "a few people decided to kill a lot of people for political reasons" connection. The Wind Rises is a movie made by a prominent Japanese filmmaker that explores the dichotomy of the beauty of a Japanese weapon and the terrible things done with it, and the terrible nature of war more generally. It is a self-critique of Japanese history.

A movie made by an American that looks at the 9/11 hijackers from any perspective isn't analogous, it wouldn't be the same sort of self critique. Many US filmakers have made films that are meditations on the United States' own role in wars. The first semi-analogous one that comes to mind is We Were Soldiers which is less overtly antiwar but does feature Lt. Gen. Moore's fascination with the possibilities of the helicopters under his command juxtaposed with the irrationality and futile nature of the US' role in Vietnam.

Elements of the same self-critique of US history are present in anti-war movies like Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket or even in as rah-rah patriotic a movie as Saving Private Ryan, which includes Tom hanks character famously describing how dehumanizing it feels to kill German soldiers, even in the service of a "just cause." Most recent movies about the Iraq/Afghanistan wars have reflected the deep ambiguity felt by the American public about those conflicts to a greater or lesser extent. There's also the deep ambiguity seen in many civil war films, which depict positive characteristics of Southern military leaders while also grappling with the issue of slavery.

Das Boot is perhaps similar in how it focuses on a specific weapon (a u-boat) and makes the point that individual honor, bravery, intelligence, predjudice, or any other individual trait means nothing to the often-random destruction of war. It's a German movie, so western but not American.

So I don't think its totally fair to say a movie like Miyazaki's couldn't be made in the US. More interesting to look at why the closest thing Japan has to Walt Disney is the one making it.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:32 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


It will play well in the US, as we have a fascination with our WWII enemies, and believed, down deep, their stuff was better than ours*, and we got lucky with the win. Seeing the political conditions that made them our enemy, while showcasing the culture of technical genius that made them so formidable, is a winning formula. "Das Boot" did very well here for similar reasons - we got to see everyday Germans at war, with their iconic naval weapon.


(*This was true at the beginning of the war for certain categories of equipment, but American, Russian and British engineering caught up a helluva quick.)
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:35 AM on August 15, 2013


It's hard to separate the elegance, beauty, skill, bravery and other positive characteristics of anything connected with war from one's view of the side on whose behalf the materiel or operation were deployed. From what little I know of the Zero, it was a great plane, but it's easy to imagine Miyazaki being slammed for admiring it, even in the context of his typically heavy-handed condemnation of war.

I fear such reaction is from people who haven't seen much of Miyazaki's works. Airplanes and aircraft feature heavily in his films, and his anti-war themes are not subtle either.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) - very anti-war, pro-nature, featuring a nice looking glider
  • Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986) - another anti-violence and war, pro-nature film, featuring an ancient flying city and fantastic flying machines
  • Grave of the Fireflies (1988) - a movie about World War II, from the perspective of two young Japanese children who are trying to survive (not sure about aircraft, I still haven't seen this one - having a small child of my own makes me tear up just at reading the plot)
  • My Neighbor Totoro (1988) - little to no violence of any sort, no aircraft to my recollection (discounting Totoro's flying spinning top and the gliding Catbus)
  • Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) - little to no violence, but there's Tombo, a kid who's crazy about flying and aviation
  • Porco Rosso (1992) - completely an aviation buff's movie, starring a porcine Italian World War I ex-fighter ace facing off against air pirates
  • Pom Poko (1994) - not so much anti-war as it is pro-nature and anti-senseless development and sprawl destroying natural habitats
  • Princess Mononoke (1997) - anti-war, pro-nature
  • Howl's Moving Castle (2004) - semi-fantasy film, with the setting of warring nations, featuring some aircraft
I think that covers the Miyazaki films that touch on war and/or aircraft. I left out the dramas and Ponyo, which is 3-4 films.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:37 AM on August 15, 2013 [7 favorites]


My first reaction watching the trailer was "what a boring movie!". Then I grew up and realized this was a subtle trailer, showing the beauty and contemplation that Studio Ghibli is so good at. It'll be interesting to see a Miyazaki film for adults, without strong fantasy elements.
posted by Nelson at 8:38 AM on August 15, 2013


filthy light thief - you're mixing 'Miyazaki' with Studio Ghibli for a few of those films.
posted by Think_Long at 8:41 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Think_Long, thanks for the correction. I was lazy and pulled from my Miyazaki/Ghibli post, ignoring the convenient mention of directions I included.


Nelson: It'll be interesting to see a Miyazaki film for adults, without strong fantasy elements.

There are a few of those already, if you'd like to preview what you could expect in the movie. They're a bit harder to come by in the US, but they're *aherm* "available" online. Besides Grave of the Fireflies, there's Only Yesterday (1991) and Ocean Waves (1993).
posted by filthy light thief at 8:43 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) - very anti-war, pro-nature, featuring a nice looking glider

Not to mention the awesome other flying machines, i forget what they were called. Example 1, and example 2. I hadn't known he drew aircraft originally, but now it makes even more sense.
posted by usagizero at 8:46 AM on August 15, 2013


But consider the U.S. reaction to a film that examined the coordination, skill, bravery and luck of the 9/11 hijackers. You couldn't make a film like that here -- I bet you'd get far worse treatment than Miyazaki has / will. For all the scorn the west heaps on, e.g., the fatwas against Salman Rushdie and the Jyllands-Posten cartoonists, I wouldn't bet against the untimely and gory demise of a western filmmaker who released an even-handed 9/11 documentary.

I haven't seen it but from what I understand United 93 isn't exactly a rah rah polemic.
posted by kmz at 8:48 AM on August 15, 2013


Grave of the Fireflies (1988) - a movie about World War II, from the perspective of two young Japanese children who are trying to survive (not sure about aircraft, I still haven't seen this one - having a small child of my own makes me tear up just at reading the plot)

As the end credits for this movie rolled, my then-boyfriend turned to me teary-eyed and said "You don't get to pick the movies anymore."
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:49 AM on August 15, 2013 [15 favorites]


It's kind of hard to discuss a movie until one has seen it. This Japan Focus essay on "Tachinu" provides some insights into the movie.

Basically, just because the film is about the Zero does not mean it glorifies war. Quite the opposite.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:54 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Grave of the Fireflies is even harder to watch when you know it's based on a semi-autobiographical novel (the main events in the story happened in real life). I've only been able to watch it twice in the 15 years I've owned the DVD.

It was the first movie to come to mind as I watched this trailer, even though Miyazaki didn't collaborate on "Fireflies". I too trust that Miyazaki will have handled the dissonance well in Kaze Tachinu. (On preview, thanks for the article, KokuRyu.)

And how fascinating to discover his aeronautics background. I loved Nausicaä's awesome glider and the realistic planes in that film. Makes it much easier to understand all the attention to detail in planes and machines in Miyazaki's other films as well.
posted by fraula at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2013


KokuRyu, from Miyazaki latching onto the quote "All I wanted to do was to make something beautiful," I fully believe that to be true.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:59 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't understand how anybody could see that shot of the dilapidated Zero in the trailer and not take away from it that the film isn't going to glorify anything apart from the craft of animation.
posted by Mizu at 9:03 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Everyone should see Grave of the Fireflies. Heck, it should be shown in schools.

However, it should never be shown more than once.
posted by bonehead at 9:14 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


Former Canadian middle through high school students will probably recognize the opening lines of that trailer as a bad retranslation of Christina Rossetti's Who Has Seen The Wind, which was the inspiration for W.O. Mitchell's novel of the same name.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you:
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I:
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.
posted by sparklemotion at 9:17 AM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


The Wind Rises does not yet have a US release date.

This regional-release thing drives me completely nuts.
posted by odinsdream at 9:20 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I came late to Miyazaki's films, having become an adult before I'd seen any of them. I started with "Princess Mononoke" and have since gone on to see everything the man has done that I could get my hands on. I introduced my daughter to "My Neghbor Tortoro" when she was four, and since then we've watched "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Spirited Away', and "Ponyo" together, and we've both loved all them.

And "loved" is the correct term. Given the opportunity, I would happily relocate to the world depicted in any of those films, and take my family with me. Every time the movies part ways with the real world as I understand it, it's always the real world that suffers by comparison. I'd love to live in the kind of world where families could send their 12 year old children off to live on their own, in another city, for a self-directed apprenticeship, and not have to worry about their well being. The girls and women and feminine spirits in his movies are the kinds of role models that I'd be thrilled to have my daughter aspire to emulate.

I understand why the idea for this latest film, in the hands of any other director, would give people pause, or reasons to worry. But Miyazaki's ethical credentials, based purely on his previous work, are impeccable as far as I'm concerned.

And I know how dicey it is to make judgements of an artist's moral standing based on their work alone. I've never met Miyazaki, and never will, and I can't think of any one else I'd extend this trust to based on artistic output alone.
posted by Ipsifendus at 9:23 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


a bad retranslation

It's completely goofy how some Japanese-language films are translated into English. I actually have done some corporate communications work for one of Japan's largest automakers, "transcreating" their Japanese branded-corporate speak into its English equivalent, making sure I incorporated pre-existing English transcreated copy that had already been approved.

To make a long story short, whenever you work with big organizations (in my case an automaker, in this case Toho and whatever Hollywood company is going to distribute "Tachinu" in North America, getting a good, quality English-languish translation or sub is not the point.

It's translation by committee. In my case, the approval chain stretched from what I produced to the agency in Tokyo I was contracting with to Dentsu, who was managing the project to the automaker's comms shop to their higher ups to regional subsidiaries in New Zealand or wherever was being featured in that part of the IR report, and all the way back again.

Pretty much all of the Ghibli films suffer from poor-quality English language subs.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:31 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Gorgeous trailer, as expected, and I know there are cultural differences, and so on, and this is an entirely subjective opinion -- but I wish I could see a recut with entirely different music.
posted by ariel_caliban at 9:35 AM on August 15, 2013


...the beauty of a Japanese weapon and the terrible things done with it...

I guess my analogy breaks down where I align abstract attributes of a physical thing (the Zero) with abstract attributes of actions (raid, hijacking). I'm not sure there are any U.S. artifacts that are quite so unbalanced between resources and accomplishment. Certainly the US has done great and terrible things (e.g. Manhattan & Apollo projects) but we also have the deepest pockets and access to some of the brightest people in the world.

The feeling I get from the trailer (and from many of Miyazaki's other films) is more epic, winning-against-all-odds, like the kid in Malawi who cobbled together some windmills out of junk parts and powered his village. Any self-respecting U.S. high-schooler could accomplish the same thing; it's the juxtaposition between limited resources and surprising results that makes an interesting story.

(Porco Rosso had a similar theme: Marco's plane was designed by a young girl who dreamed of flying -- iirc, it was her first design -- and it was built by a bunch of Italian grandmothers in a covert factory.)

Of course, Mitsubishi was (and is) an industrial powerhouse, so at least some of the limited resources of "poor Japanese kid living in poverty but dreaming of beautiful airplanes" has to be exaggerated for effect. And I'm sure the anti-war parts of the film will be as strong as ever, but equally sure that they'll be overlooked by people who can't fit both "beautiful" and "terrible" in their heads at the same time, when looking at something.

TL;DR: People will miss the beauty in something terrible, and will overlook the terror inflicted on others while fawning over the beauty of their own side's cleverness.
posted by spacewrench at 9:37 AM on August 15, 2013


Pretty much all of the Ghibli films suffer from poor-quality English language subs.

QFT. Spirited Away is a completely different movie in Japanese.
posted by spacewrench at 9:38 AM on August 15, 2013


Everyone should see Grave of the Fireflies. Heck, it should be shown in schools.

However, it should never be shown more than once.


Fun fact: Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro were released together as a double feature. Target audience: ?
posted by The Tensor at 9:39 AM on August 15, 2013 [12 favorites]


Pretty much all of the Ghibli films suffer from poor-quality English language subs.

As a fellow J-E translator, I can confirm that this is absolutely true.

I wish I could see a recut with entirely different music.

Yumi Matsutoya née Arai is a much-beloved vocalist in Japan, and her voice carries with it an inextricable nostalgia to Japanese listeners that will be totally lost on nearly everyone else.
posted by Sokka shot first at 9:41 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pretty much all of the Ghibli films suffer from poor-quality English language subs.

This seems like one of those things that should be subject to pretty easy technical fixes, doesn't it? I mean, there's no real reason for copyright holders to object to someone watching legitimately purchased versions of their movies with alternative subtitles superimposed. I would be fan-sourced subtitles would often end up improving greatly on the studio versions and it would be technologically easy to add capability to a DVD or Blu-Ray player to download them and sync them to the disc/stream you're playing. I don't understand Japanese so I can't pick up on translation errors in Japanese films, but you can often tell that something's hinky in the English translation; in languages I am able to follow I'm often just amazed at the license the translators give themselves to paraphrase or simply ignore what's actually being said.

The worst I ever saw, though, was a print of Bunuel's "The Illusion Travels by Streetcar" (a lovely movie); whoever did the subtitles clearly spoke no English at all, and had simply worked with a Spanish-English dictionary, translating more or less word by word. It was utterly surreal; which, in an odd way, Bunuel might well have enjoyed.
posted by yoink at 9:43 AM on August 15, 2013


Fun fact: Grave of the Fireflies and My Neighbor Totoro were released together as a double feature.

Jaw makes dent in floor.
posted by yoink at 9:44 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


I sincerely hope this film isn't going to be subject to U.S. "sensibilities" and not released at all, similar to Omoide Poro Poro (Only Yesterday) (it's not a Miyazaki film, but it was animated by Ghibli).
posted by CancerMan at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2013


I would be fan-sourced subtitles would often end up improving greatly on the studio versions

This is definitely a thing. Fansubs can be downloaded as text files and loaded into compatible software, like VLC.

Ironically, people who pirate movies end up with more faithful subtitles because of this very thing. For instance, Let The Right One In wasn't available with official English subtitles for months, and when they finally did come out they were wildly wrong in several odd ways.
posted by odinsdream at 9:51 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


...they can be somewhat flakey if you aren't watching the exact same video that the person used to write the subtitles. I once gave up trying to get the on-screen version synced and just watched the movie with a text-editor open on my laptop.
posted by odinsdream at 9:52 AM on August 15, 2013


spacewrench: People will miss the beauty in something terrible, and will overlook the terror inflicted on others while fawning over the beauty of their own side's cleverness.

Oh yeah. I'm still waiting for someone to make a movie about modern aircraft carriers that conveys this well. What an amazing ship, what a terrible tool.
posted by Wretch729 at 9:55 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Sokka shot first, thanks much for the information! I'll do some research to see if I can at least get an idea of what I'm missing...
posted by ariel_caliban at 10:05 AM on August 15, 2013


I left out the dramas and Ponyo, which is 3-4 films.

Ponyo doesn't have flying, but it does have a lot of soaring through/on water, plus a very pro-nature and anti-conflict approach, so I think it counts. Spirited Away has less flying than some, but it does fit nature (the slime thing/befouled river) and thoughts about resolving conflict.....
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:06 AM on August 15, 2013


Ponyo is also filled with nerd-love for ships and boats, so it's got the same emotional space filled.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:12 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


W.O. Mitchell's novel of the same name.

Man, he was a funny writer. Too bad we had to read the fairly seriousWho Has Seen the Wind in school instead of the raunchy, comedic How I Spent My Summer Holidays.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:40 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I own Grave of the Fireflies. It was in the Ghibli set. I watched it once.

It is an amazing movie that everyone must watch and I recommend it constantly to those who never saw it.

Like others who have seen it, I refuse to watch it again.
posted by linux at 10:43 AM on August 15, 2013


odinsdream: This regional-release thing drives me completely nuts.

There are the stupid licensing agreements, and there are the technical aspects. Subtitling has to be done before it can be seen, and as mentioned upthread, subtitling isn't exactly easy, and it comes part and parcel with the re-distribution rights.

Often it's paired with dubbing, and the most recent anime I've seen has been Ghibli work, through Disney distribution and re-dubbing. In those cases, the subtitles work both as closed captioning for the English dub and as subtitles for the Japanese language version. As you can guess, this means the subs are not always direct or clear translations of the Japanese vocals, which can be really annoying.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:49 AM on August 15, 2013


On this topic: how do Crunchyroll subs compare to fansubs and re-distributed titles? I am nostalgic for that time when I watched a ton of anime as fansubs. Some groups were dedicated to their craft, doing creative things with the opening and closing credit lyrics, like providing the kanji, romanji, AND English, complete with color-changing text or other indicators to sync with the lyrics. Other groups provided details about the settings and background elements, which was especially impressive in historic themed shows. By comparison, US companies seem down-right lazy.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:56 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reading the Wikipedia page for the Grave of the Fireflies novel itself, I was surprised to learn that one of the author's sisters died of malnutrition in Fukui Prefecture, a place I have lived in and have had a deep connection to for the past 20 years.

In the film, I think the boy and his sister are sent to live with relatives outside of Kobe or Osaka, and I was really struck by how callously the children were treated, eventually being forced to live in a cave where they die of starvation. While not exactly shocking, it's kind of grim to think that some of the film is based on the author's experiences with Fukui back then. It's a very nice, largely rural prefecture now, but due to its ports and various industries, Fukui was bombed extensively during the war.

My mother-in-law had to be evacuated from Tsuruga (technically the terminus of the Trans-Siberian Railway, and a major embarkation port for Korea) to the mountain town of Imajo, where she lived during the war. Tsuruga was flattened.

My father-in-law saw his younger sister burn to death in a B-29 air raid on Tsuruga (also a major POW camp).
posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


how do Crunchyroll subs compare to fansubs and re-distributed titles?

I find them to be adequate. While the last ten years saw an explosion in the ambition of fansubbers w/r/t the visual presentation of their subtitles, the accuracy of translation was just as variable as it ever was. Some groups had good translation quality control, others didn't, and you never really knew what you were going to get.

Crunchyroll subs don't go the extra mile of translating every Japanese character on the screen, but the quality and timing is (in my experience) good enough, plus they come with the bonus of feeling virtuous for supporting an industry I believe in, for a price I can manage.
posted by Sokka shot first at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Only Yesterday is one of my favourite Studio Ghibli Films - and, yes, it was directed by Isao Takahata, who also directed Grave of the Fireflies and Pom Poko. He's not as famous in North America as his long-time partner Miyazaki, but he's just as talented. I describe Only Yesterday to people as a wonderful, nostalgic slice of life film, with a side order of organic farming.

As far as I know, Grave of the Fireflies was intended for all audiences. It is a very moving film - and how children react to it may have more to do with what they have been taught about death. That said, My Neighbour Totoro was played as the second film when it was a double bill, possibly to help people recover from the first. I have heard that the two films take place in the same universe & region - I believe that a bit character from Grave is the same as the little boy from Totoro (please correct me if I'm wrong).

As for how Miyazaki handles the war: he's just about the best person on the planet to make a film like this - and you can see it in the trailer.

I am now setting an alarm to call in the second that TIFF tickets go on sale to see if I can possibly see it in September. I've never bought TIFF tickets before (the whole festival is rather inaccessible to average Torontonians), but for Studio Ghibli and this film I will try to see if I can get them.
posted by jb at 11:23 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


The B-29, deliverer of the Destroyer of Worlds, was the same kind of beautiful aeronautical creation as the Reisen ("Zero Fighter). While the Zero, in the hands of its original cadre of highly skilled IJN pilots, shot down many Allied planes, it was, in the main, a defensive weapon, especially compared to the ghastly destruction wrought by the B-29, the premier bomber of WWII. It is worth keeping in mind that the incendiary raids on Tokyo and every other city in Japan of any size were vastly more destructive than the nuclear strikes.

An analogue to Miyazaki's story about Horikoshi's Dilemma would perhaps be the Promethean suffering of Robert Oppenheimer, inspired by his own brilliance and intellectual hubris to unleash the elemental forces of nature and haunted ever after by the consequences of his own success.

posted by rdone at 11:26 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think there is any way the Zero could be called a defensive weapon. It was part of the military juggernaut Japan unleashed on north- and southeast Asia, and commissioned by those who planned that onslaught. It was designed to be carrier-launched, and aircraft carriers are not defensive in nature. Witness Pearl Harbour.

I also don't think it is useful or productive to engage in the dichotomy of Zero vs. Atom Bomb. From what I've learned from Miyazaki is that he is more interested in examining the folly inherent in human nature, and the sorrow of war. You'll notice that his movies rarely have a villain. Laputa (and perhaps some of his more light-hearted movies like Lupin III) are the exception.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


What an amazing ship, what a terrible tool.

HMS Bounty, and Mel Gibson.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 12:20 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


Anti-Smoking Lobby Goes After Studio Ghibli's New Film (kotaku.com)
posted by sidereal at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2013


I don't think there is any way the Zero could be called a defensive weapon.

Everybody knows the best defense is to occupy vast swathes of Asia.
posted by kmz at 12:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


We've had deeply ambivalent dramas about Oppenheimer, Feynman, Slotin and others involved in early nuclear-bomb development.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2013


Not to derail, but I'd love to have links to some of those, CBrachyrhynchos.
posted by odinsdream at 1:09 PM on August 15, 2013


Perhaps if Japan had won, then this film would be as unobjectionable there as the various "raid on Bin Laden" flicks are in the U.S.

Zero Dark 30? I can assure you, that film did not pass without objection.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:11 PM on August 15, 2013


Odinsdream: I'm guessing one such film would be Fat Man And Little Boy, from 1989.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:13 PM on August 15, 2013


I'd also say that the theme of the character who chased a dream only to realize it was the wrong dream with terrible consequences has been something that Miyazaki explored in Mononoke and Arrietty.

The Feynman biopic Infinity wrestles a bit with the ambivalence of the Manhattan Project. Slotin is a central figure of Louis Slotin Sonata. I think Oppenheimer's life has been more thoroughly explored. And of course, the government weapons researcher became a villain of Hollywood anti-war film from Dr. Strangelove through War Games.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:20 PM on August 15, 2013


I don't think there is any way the Zero could be called a defensive weapon.

As the Imperial Japanese juggernaut learned at Midway, when carrier-borne fighters fail to shoot down all of the attacking dive bombers, aircraft carriers are merely large and vulnerable ships. The Zero, in its heyday, was a superb fighter aircraft but it was not a bomber. On board, its squadrons' mission was to defend the carriers they flew from, and to defend the bombers and torpedo planes launched to sink the enemy's ships. There is no way that this primary mission, considered in the context of WWII, was not defensive, any more than the analogous role of the F4F Wildcats that were defending the US carriers could be called offensive.

The Zero has become a synecdoche for the unlamented Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, but it is merely a symbol of Japan's objectively rash and unsustainable effort to rule Asia. Japan's occupation of China had already taken place before the first Zero flew; its heyday was during the staggering Japanese victories of late 1941 and early 1942. But as the original cadre of IJN pilots were killed--along with the highly skilled mechanics that kept the temperamental craft operational--the result was the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot of 1944, when the Zeros and their inexperienced pilots died in droves under the fire of the superior Hellcats and Corsairs of the US Navy.

Symbolism--as Miyazaki would readily concede--has the power to capture the imagination in a way that mere factual recitation cannot. Whenever I am behind a Mitsubishi automobile--Mitsubishi's logo is a stylized aircraft propeller, BTW--I cannot help but think: "From the wonderful folks who brought you the Jap Zero. . . ." It is miraculous to learn that Miyazaki himself is one of those wonderful folks, and I can't wait to see his movie about it.
posted by rdone at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Don't forget the Ford Explorer that T-bones you was once a Sherman tank!
posted by KokuRyu at 4:50 PM on August 15, 2013


As one of the few Mefites who has actually seen Kaze tachinu, I feel compelled to comment. I'll avoid spoilers.

The film's focus is not on the Zero (it only appears towards the end of the film) but rather Horikoshi and his attempt to lead a normal life during a time of upheaval. Calamities, both global and personal in scope, afflict Horikoshi throughout the film. Also intertwined with this is his love for Naoko, and the difficult choice he has to make between her and his dream of being an aircraft designer.

Obviously, as others have mentioned, the overarching theme is the contrast between: a genius who is simply enthralled with the beauty of aircraft and is trying to make the most of his productive years; and the ends to which his creations are used. The ends are not really shown on screen, but it is assumed the audience knows exactly for what these aircraft were used.

KokuRyu is correct -- as with many of Miyazaki's other films, this too is about the folly of war (albeit less allegorical than most) and the difficult decisions men must make. There is no villain; there are simply the events that occur around Horikoshi and Naoko and the resulting joy and sadness they bring.

As a fan of Kurenai no buta (Porco Rosso), I was quite looking forward to Kaze tachinu. It was definitely less lighthearted, but Miyazaki's love of the romance of aircraft shines through. I really enjoyed Kaze tachinu, and I think one viewing isn't enough to understand everything that is wrapped up in the film.
posted by armage at 5:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm stoked for this film.

That said, the blogger who entitles his blog Ask A Korean has some trenchant thoughts on the film which are expressive of the Korean reactions cited upthread. Most recently Ask A Korean has been a nexus of discussion with regard to Korean and Asian cultural precepts in the context of aviation training in the wake of the Asiana landing fiasco in San Francisco. He doesn't cut Miyazaki any slack on how the filmmaker has finessed his discussion of Japan's experience in the 30s and 40s.

Seattle air nerds should take note of the trailer's callout to Caproni, as the Museum of Flight's single most amazing artifact is an experimental Great War monoplane designed and built by the very same fellow, the Caproni Ca. 3.


Caproni's work is of importance to Seattle and to Boeing, the designer and manufacturer of the B-29, in part due to his success as an early developer of heavy bombers.

Miyazaki's far to savvy a maestro and far too air-mad to not intend the line I draw here.

I CANNOT WAIT for this film.
posted by mwhybark at 9:39 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


AND AND AND

late summer two years ago the also-Puget Sound area Paul Allen owned Flying Heritage Collection was in the process of acquiring a flying-condition Zero, something I was unaware of, as the FHC does not publicize their acquisition negotiations.

Imagine my begogglement as one day, working in the yard, I heard the unmistakable engine sound of one of the early-war Japanese fighters. I was, I dunno, pulling a dandelion or something, and I literally thought, "hunh, that sounds like a Zero. nah, couldn't be. There must be fewer than ten still flying."

I turned around and looked up just in time to see a meatball and chevron banking at about 100 feet over my house, port wing down, able to see the silhouette of the pilot. I literally could not believe it.

Here's the plane on delivery in May 2012. Different paintjob than when I saw it.
posted by mwhybark at 9:49 PM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I still haven't seen this one

It shows the incendiary bombs raining down, but not the aircraft which drop them.

Count me among the stoked (but sad because since "Ponyo" no subtitled Ghiblis have been released stateside, instead we only get these accursed Disney dubs).
posted by Rash at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2013


I have the Disney Dubs, but they all come with subtitles and a Japanese soundtrack as well.

In fact, I believe that my DVDs have two subtitles tracks - one based on the Disney scripts, and another which is a more direct translation. (The Disney scripts added a lot of material where they could fit it in to explain things - but obviously that ruins some of the beautiful quiet scenes).
posted by jb at 11:11 AM on August 17, 2013


Also, as dubs go, the Disney dubs are well done. I'm not a dub fan at all, for anything in a LOTE (language other than English - my acronym of the day), but the Disney dubs of Studio Ghibli have good acting and good writing. You lose some of the Japanese aspects of the films, because they also localize the script somewhat to American culture, but for some people (eg kids who aren't Japanese animation and history buffs) this would be feature, not a bug.

And if you don't like them, you can always do as I do and turn on the Japanese and the non-Disney subtitles.
posted by jb at 11:15 AM on August 17, 2013


Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

This was not a Miyazaki film, but rather directed by Isao Takahata. It’s a war film insofar as the setting is Japan during the bombing raids, but I found its central theme to be more how people react and treat each other during times of crisis. War is just the setting—it’s about people being real bastards when things get bad.

This is the saddest movie I’ve ever seen. I cried my eyes out…and movies never make me cry. I think because it’s animated and I wasn’t expected to fully believe a live actor’s emotions that I could immerse myself in the character’s lives. Very powerful.
posted by zardoz at 1:38 PM on August 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


my DVDs have two subtitles tracks

I'm so glad! (and I should have realized) it's just that I rush out to see them ASAP, was speaking of the movies' theatrical release, not the DVDs.
posted by Rash at 7:26 PM on August 18, 2013


Sounds like, thematically, Grave of the Fireflies has a lot in common with Nip the Buds, Shoot the Kids by Kenzaburo Oe.
posted by prefpara at 4:34 AM on August 19, 2013




I have tickets! Seeing it next week - it's the first time I've ever bought TIFF tickets.
posted by jb at 9:34 PM on September 1, 2013


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