What Will You Do If The Wind Rises? Dialectical Cinema by Miyazaki Hayao

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Miyazaki Hayao, a celebrated humanist and pacifist, is responsible for some of the best animated fantasies produced in Japan since the 1980s. In 2013 his fans were baffled to hear that his next feature-length film, kaze tachinu (The Wind Rises), tells the story of Horikoshi Jirō, the chief engineer of the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter of the Pacific War. Even before its release, the film was accused of propagating militaristic ideas, reproducing fascist fantasy, and ignoring the devastating consequences of Japan’s imperial regime. But the film, which develops like a chronicle of terrible disasters foretold, does nothing of the sort. Instead, Miyazaki’s most personal film offers a philosophical examination of human nature. Using the concept of dialectical cinema and McKee scriptwriting theory as theoretical frameworks, this article demonstrates how this film can be interpreted as posing profound ethical questions on the meaning of personal responsibility as it transcends the spatial and temporal boundaries of the Pacific War. Instead of providing the expected trajectory for an ethical resolution, the film offers a rather pessimistic (albeit compassionate) view of humanity, meanwhile demanding the audience engage in their own critical soul-searching.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)562-576
Number of pages15
JournalAsian Studies Review
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2 Oct 2017

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 Asian Studies Association of Australia.


  • Japan
  • Miyazaki Hayao
  • Robert McKee
  • The Wind Rises (kaze tachinu)
  • cinematic mythmaking
  • collective and individual responsibility
  • dialectical cinema
  • film and philosophy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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