KAZE TACIHNU (風立ちぬ, The Wind Has Risen), the new film by Hayao Miyazaki in 5 years, opened in theaters today. Miyazaki, the creator of notable anime films such as MY NEIGHBOR, TOTORO and SPIRITED AWAY, wrote and directed this story of the real airplane designer, Jiro Horikoshi (1903 – 1982). Jiro Horikoshi revolutionized fighter airplanes of Japanese Imperial Army and Navy, the most notable example being Mitsubishi A6M carrier fighter, ‘Zero’. The story follows Horikoshi’s life in the time of Kanto Earthquake, subsequent totalitarian regime and the war.

Miyazaki, an advocate of the Japanese Constitution, has been especially vocal against the political climate in Japan these days. The Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his LDP has proposed the revision of the Constitution, in an attempt to institutionalize the military and to “Japanize” the current practice of human rights and freedom of speech. Miyazaki calls this policy “out of question”, and criticizes Abe’s economical reformation and energy policies. It is as if the release date of the new film was planned to coincide with National Election for the House of Councilors. Gibli’s monthly publication, NEPPU, went viral over last week. July issue collects essays by Miyazaki, Takahata and other Gibli creators, expressing the strong opposition against Shinzo Abe’s politics. In this context, this new film is fascinating. It focuses on the character, who created the machinery of the war. On the other hand, it celebrates the life despite the time of confusion and horror.
Japanese society today somewhat resembles to that in the decades leading to WWII. Revisionists are everywhere from TV to bookstores, claiming no such thing as Nanjing Massacre and Comfort Women. Japan was rather a victim of international Imperialism than an aggressor. The Constitution was not our own, imposed on us by U.S. These ‘political’ claims are spewed over Twitter, Facebook or 2ch. Every week, the hate groups rally in the Korean Town with “Kill the Koreans” signs. Amidst all this, the film is released. I don’t know how this film and Gibli’s courageous stand on political issues would fare in this strangely bleak age of stagnation and simmering anger.