The Wind Rises

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Wind Rises Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Lovely, contemplative tale of famed aeronautical engineer.
  • PG-13
  • 2014
  • 126 minutes

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 11 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The overarching message of the story is a beautiful one: never give up on your dreams. If you give yourself over to your dreams -- with hard work, discipline, ambition, and dedication -- they can come true. The other message that's wonderfully reinforced is that work should not be your only outlet. To work hard, you should also have people you love to come home to, or your life won't have any balance or beauty. You need people to share your dreams with -- both in a professional and a personal manner. The movie is also a big plug for engineers: "Engineers turn dreams into reality," a famous aeronautical engineer tells the protagonist.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Jiro realizes as a young boy he can't be a pilot, so he shifts focus to becoming an aeronautical engineer -- a job that allows him to dedicate his life to updating and redesigning war planes for his country. He knows abstractly that his planes will be used for war, but he's dedicated to the beauty of the engineering, not the end result. He is a loving, generous, and incredibly smart man -- a visionary when so many others are complacent. He's a man of honor and integrity who even as a young kid would stop boys from bullying smaller kids.


Some scary scenes of an earthquake taking a train off course and causing mass destruction and loss of life. A fire sweeps through the country and also wreaks havoc on the land and people. People are injured and shown weeping and crying (especially kids) for help. It's clear that the zero dogfighter planes (and other planes) are used in war to drop bombs. Planes crash during testing. An important character dies of a serious illness (off camera).


Jiro falls in love, holds hands with, kisses, and marries Naoko. It's implied they make love, but all that is shown is them getting under covers together and embracing.


Infrequent exclamations and insults: "stupid," "idiot," "damn," "mackerel," "married to an airplane."


Mitsubishi is mentioned as one of the rival companies to make war planes.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

The main characters and several of his friends and acquaintances smoke a lot and often ask for cigarettes and discuss the differences between Japanese and German brands. The protagonist smokes in the presence of his ailing young wife.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the Oscar-nominated animated drama The Wind Rises is notable for being anime legend Hayao Miyazaki's final feature-length film. The movie, dubbed in English for American audiences, may be animated, but like many other Studio Ghibli productions, it's not really for very little kids; it's a poignant and contemplative chronicle of a famous Japanese engineer who was responsible for designing the infamous zero bomber. Because of the historical setting, there are real-life disasters and catastrophes depicted in the movie, like the Kanto Earthquake of 1923 and of course World War II. There's also an upsetting subplot about the engineer's beloved, who suffers from tuberculosis, and many, many scenes of men smoking cigarettes (as was customary in that era). Because of the themes and the mature subject matter, this is an animated film best for inquisitive older tweens and teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byCaius Gracchus September 11, 2018

Relevant, powerful, beautiful and important for all individuals to watch.

This film is powerful, enthralling, dramatic and beautiful. I recommend this to everyone who likes film. A common theme in the film is one of the burdens caused... Continue reading
Adult Written byOliviaReviewsIt January 3, 2016

Airplane Adventure Full of Sighs

I would like to begin this review by saying that The Wind Rises is way overrated. Just because it is by Academy-Award winning director Hayao Miyazaki does not m... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old February 23, 2014


Teen, 17 years old Written bySophie Hatter November 15, 2020

A Film With Powerful Themes and a Wonder to Watch

This is a film that I really enjoyed, for me it’s more a film about romance, than it is about planes and war, as it focuses on two compelling characters who hav... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE WIND RISES is a fictionalized biography of Jiro Horikoshi (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), a legendary Japanese aeronautical engineer who was responsible for designing the zero bombers used in World War II. As a boy, young Jiro dreams of becoming a fighter pilot, but because of his near-sightedness, he realizes that's not meant to be; in a dream, he encounters the world-famous Italian aeronautical engineer Giovanni Caproni (Stanley Tucci), who encourages Jiro to design planes even if he can't fly them: "Engineers turn dreams into reality." Jiro grows up, saves a young girl and her nanny during the Kanto Earthquake of 1923, goes to engineering school, and then joins an engineering firm that's competing for military contracts. Throughout his adulthood, Jiro travels and refines his vision of making beautiful planes for the glory of Japan.

Is it any good?

Visually, this is a gorgeous film. The film doesn't include any mythical creatures or fantastical worlds; it's all Japan, the sky, the fields, the wind, and those beautiful planes of Jiro's dreams. This is a contemplative story that requires a patient audience. Young kids used to high-octane adventures may not be ready for this introspective tribute to a visionary man, who may have known in the abstract that his designs would one day be used in war, but who really just wanted to, as Caproni told him, make his dreams a reality.

The second half of the film features a heartbreaking romance between Jiro and the now grown-up girl he once ushered to safety during the 1923 Earthquake. Naoko (Emily Blunt) is herself an artist who loves landscapes. They long to marry, but Naoko suffers from tuberculosis, a disease even the brilliant Jiro can't troubleshoot. Their scenes together are romantic, but also devastatingly sad -- like when he spends a night finishing blueprints with one hand firmly grasping his ill young wife's hand. The story line isn't exactly a nailbiter, but this is a quietly powerful movie about what it takes to have a singular vision and dedicate your life to it; a tale of a genius, one can only assume, much like Miyazaki himself.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the theme of dreaming and creating. How are they tied together? What does the movie have to say about striving for your dreams?

  • Jiro doesn't consider himself a part of the military and doesn't think too much about how his planes will be used -- just that he wants to make planes. Does he bear any responsibility for being the creator of warcraft?

  • Critics have mentioned that this film is a lot more serious and less whimsical than other Miyazaki fims; do you agree? What are some of your favorites?

Movie details

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