A very impressive and honest portrayal of the great Japanese animation creator/director Hayao Miyazaki. Documentary director Mami Sunada shadowed the animation director as he created his latest work – When the Wind Rises. Sunada seemed to have full access to the studio and home of the director, taping company meetings, interviewing and recording some of the 400 employees at work at the Ghibli Studio in west Tokyo. Interspersed in the latest development of the script and creation process were the complicated relationship, partnership and friendship between Miyazaki and Isao Takahada, who bought Miyazaki into the field of animation years ago. He was directing the animation The Tale of Princess Kaguya which was scheduled to show in Japan the same year as When the Wind Rises. Never to be missed was the portrayal of micro- managing producer Toshio Suzuki who had been working between the two giants for more than half of a century.
It is moving watching archive footages of these three young men working closely for and dedicated more than half of their lives to this field. Long terms friends and work partners, they have gradually grown into three graceful yet a little stubborn artists. You cannot help but admire their respect for their passion. Also valuable was how candid Miyazaki was in front of the camera, revealing his philosophy, emotions, contradiction, hesitation and imagination. At 72, he is still lively and fun as a child and dreams of all kind of crazy ideas. Excellent editing here to insert clips of the animation which made his dreams come true. We also see his deepest respect for life and ordinary things around him. In many ways, he reminds me of the grandfather in Heidi: A Girl from the Alps, directed by Takahata in 1974, particularly when Miyazaki has his apron on almost all the time.
I watched this after visiting the exhibition on Studio Ghibli Layout Designs: Understanding the secrets of Takahata and Miyazaki Animation at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum. It was much less interesting than the visit to the Ghibli Studio in Tokyo but the exhibit offered a closer look at some of the tediously detailed hand-drawn artwork which I later saw in this film.
Similar to Miyazaki's animation work, the studio was warm and filled with natural light. The work style is informal, fun and loving though Miyazaki can be hard to work with at times. It looks like a fun place to work. Now, having learned more about how Miyazaki created his various animation works, I would sure watch his work again in new lights.