Saturday, July 20, 2013

Portrait of a Weapon Inventor as a Young Man: Hayao Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises)

Trailer for Hayo Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu (The Wind Rises).  Based on the manga of the same name; in turn based on a short story by Tatsuo Hori, a prewar proletarian writer, poet and translator who died in 1953. Kaze Tachinu is a fictionalised biography of Jiro Horikoshi, chief designer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, a long-range warplane used in bombing raids and kamikaze attacks during the Pacific War.

Interesting timing on the release of this film. Miyazaki's films invoke nostalgia for traditional Japanese community, family, and rural life; and contain anti-war and environmentalist themes.  In May of this year, Toshio Suzuki,  producer at Ghibli, the studio which produces Miyazaki's films, unequivocally pronounced his support for the Japanese Peace Constitution in an interview with Tokyo Shimbun (English translation at Anime News Network):
Suzuki spoke his support for the clause, saying, ”We should be proclaiming Article 9, which has brought peace to Japan, to the rest of the world.” He added, “I doubt most people outside of Japan even know that we have Article 9. After all, we have a self-defense force. They probably know about that. That's why we have to spread the word about the clause to the world. This peace that Japan has wouldn't have been possible without it."

Suzuki came to know the future Ghibli director Hayao Miyazaki after Suzuki co-founded the magazine Animage for the publisher Tokuma Shoten. Miyazaki serialized his Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind manga in Animage, and Suzuki participated in the production of Miyazaki's film version in 1984. When Ghibli separated from Tokuma Shoten in 2005, Suzuki was appointed to head the studio. Suzuki stepped down as the head of Ghibli in 2008, but he has remained an active producer on all of its films.
(July 21 update: Detailed analysis by Matthew Penney just published at The Asia-Pacific Journal on Hayao Miyazaki, war, peace, and Article 9; cites the filmmaker's belief that Article 9 should remain the cornerstone of Japanese foreign policy; and cites Studio Ghibli director (and Miyazaki collaborator Isao Takahata: “We sacrificed the people of Okinawa and became collaborators in [America’s wars].” )

(July 24 update: More background at Mainichi with a link to a Ghibli pamphlet outlining both the studio's and Miyazaki's support of Article 9.)

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