I saw this film only recently, and while I am still considering some of what it showed in the story, I was more hoping to comment on the aspect of a Hayao Miyazaki film in general — for this was the first one I had the pleasure of watching. Maybe this was not the best one to start with, but maybe the others are fairly similar. What I do know is that I enjoyed it, and I would like to watch more of his works.
Why I enjoyed it is a different question — ‘The Wind Rises’ has a very interesting subject matter, the Mitsubishi Zero. Not knowing the engineers who designed it previously by name or anything else, I was able to divine that in the first few minutes of the film. I am not sure whether that was a good or a bad thing, but past that point it always felt to me as if I knew what was about to happen. After finishing, I had the feeling that I had seen it beforehand despite knowing it was the first time. It was a very weird feeling, trying to sustain belief in these thoughts whilst seeing that what went on in the show was moving in the same direction as my mind wanted to take it.
In addition to the previous, it constantly felt to me as the cultural references and borrowings were familiar, or at least some of them. It is difficult to describe what I mean, but say the theme of the film, the ‘Das gibt’s nur einmal, kommt nicht wieder’ song played in my mind for a long long time afterwards. I looked it up to see whether I had known it before (and I can’t divine anything obvious on whether I can).
My conclusion is that the film was a whole, a whole so beautiful and fitting that it all fit together perfectly, creating the sensation of familiarity — quite possibly one of the best gifts that any entertainment can have.