The Wind Rises Soundtrack – Review

Wind Rises Kaze Tachinu

Album Title: The Wind Rises Soundtrack
Anime Title: The Wind Rises
Artist: Joe Hisaishi, Yumi Arai
Catalog Number: TKCA-73920
Release Type: Soundtrack
Release Date: July 17, 2013
Purchase at: CDJapan, iTunes


Tracklist

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Track Title Artist Time
01. Journey (Dreamy Flight) Joe Hisaishi 2:55
02. Shooting Star Joe Hisaishi 1:37
03. Caproni (Engineer’s Dream) Joe Hisaishi 1:45
04. Journey (Determination) Joe Hisaishi 1:12
05. Naoko (Meeting) Joe Hisaishi 0:48
06. Evacuation Joe Hisaishi 1:20
07. Benefactor Joe Hisaishi 0:47
08. Caproni (Illusory Giant Machine) Joe Hisaishi 1:43
09. Excitement Joe Hisaishi 0:40
10. Journey (Sister) Joe Hisaishi 1:34
11. Journey (First Day of Work) Joe Hisaishi 1:28
12. Falcon Squad Joe Hisaishi 1:34
13. Falcon Joe Hisaishi 1:22
14. Junkers Joe Hisaishi 1:28
15. Journey (Wind of Italia) Joe Hisaishi 1:45
16. Journey (Caproni’s Retirement) Joe Hisaishi 1:20
17. Journey (Meeting at Karuizawa) Joe Hisaishi 1:45
18. Naoko (Fate) Joe Hisaishi 0:46
19. Naoko (Rainbow) Joe Hisaishi 1:09
20. Castorp (The Magic Mountain) Joe Hisaishi 1:10
21. Wind Joe Hisaishi 0:52
22. Paper Airplane Joe Hisaishi 2:38
23. Naoko (Propose) Joe Hisaishi 1:10
24. Surveillant Prototype 8 Joe Hisaishi 0:58
25. Castorp (Farewell) Joe Hisaishi 1:49
26. Naoko (Yearning) Joe Hisaishi 3:06
27. Naoko (Crossing Paths) Joe Hisaishi 3:04
28. Journey (Marriage) Joe Hisaishi 1:57
29. Naoko (Gaze) Joe Hisaishi 1:04
30. Journey (Farewell) Joe Hisaishi 1:18
31. Journey (Dreamland) Joe Hisaishi 3:36
32. Vapor Trail Yumi Arai 3:23

Review: The Wind Rises‘s main theme is a fitting piece that follows the grand tradition of Ghibli themes dating back to Nausicaa. In it, Joe Hisaishi‘s slow, rustic mandolin melody puts you at ease by evoking simple beginnings. But once it gets under way, the strings propel you into an airy realm that is as dynamic as Hayao Miyazaki’s creations. In context, this theme, titled “Journey,” speaks to the life of protagonist Jiro Horikoshi. But because this is also Miyazaki’s final film, one wonders whether its sweeping magnificence is also a tribute to Miyazaki’s fantastic career. Whatever messages and symbols lie hidden within this melody, there’s no denying that Joe Hisaishi’s compositions are an excellent aural companion to The Wind Rises, striking an excellent note upon which Miyazaki can end his career.

Journey (Dreamy Flight)

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As the film proceeds onward, the “Journey” theme touches upon aspects of Jiro Horikoshi’s life. The melody shifts away from that calm, humble vibe of life in Taisho-era Japan and focuses on Jiro’s relationship with his sister. In doing so, the piece takes on a yearning tone, illustrating a familial bond that, while strong, remains distant. With Jiro’s work life, the initial restraints that the theme possesses loosen through a steady, orchestral crescendo that lays a thick blanket of anticipation over his progress. The theme also morphs later on, keeping a restrained happiness in its depiction of Jiro’s marriage. Its delivery, from the slow tempo, to the instruments that weave in and out, fuse the piece with an enchanting magic that takes one’s breath away, leaving wide-eyed wonder in its wake.

Journey (Marriage)

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With all that the “Journey” theme takes on, Jiro’s dreams become the common thread. This dream materializes through his internal muse, the Italian aviation pioneer Giovanni Caproni, whom the film depicts as a visionary. Caproni speaks to the possibilities that flight can bring to the world, unveiling fantastic machines that remain a dream in Jiro’s mind. In keeping with this larger-than-life persona, Hisaishi’s theme for Count Caproni is brash. The low brass bellows with an excitement borne from a lofty vision, inspiring listeners with its grandiosity while pushing Jiro to allow his own vision to take flight.

Caproni (Engineer’s Dream)

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Finally, the most understated theme is the one for Jiro’s wife, Naoko. From the onset, the music that represents her reflects the circumstances in which she and Jiro meet and goes all the way to the tragedy that lies at journey’s end. The track that captures that initial meeting reveals a deep melancholia; the solo piano is heart-stoppingly beautiful in its fragility and any sense of happiness is fleeting. Further in, variations like “Yearning” depict much urgency before unleashing a relentless torrent of intense love. This intensity is also heard in the slow crescendo in “Crossing Paths,” which capture not only the love they share, but also mixes the bitter with the sweet. Once the strings emphatically cry out, a distressing quieter section takes over, confirming the tragic, heartrending events that follow.

Naoko (Meeting)

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Naoko (Crossing Paths)

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What these themes do is take you through the internal drivers and events central to Jiro’s life. All are excellent and while these pieces stand out most, Hisaishi’s compositions for ancillary events in the film are equally solid. “Evacuation” describes the danger and aftermath of the Great Kanto Earthquake, where a sneaking tone captures the suddenness of the earth’s movement, followed by the frantic depiction of the title event. Other exciting moments involve the building and flying of aircraft. “Falcon Squad’s” jaunty tone exemplifies excitement as it sputters before transitioning to a swelling section that creates a wonderful sensation of being wafted along by joyful wind currents. Finally, “Paper Airplane’s” playfulness brings needed diversity from all the melancholia and pomposity as it captures the happiness from Jiro’s burgeoning relationship with Naoko as well as the simple pleasures that comes from toying around with designs, enabling Jiro to spring back from his failures to achieve his dreams.

Falcon Squad

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Paper Airplane

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The most striking thing about The Wind Rises‘s soundtrack is that we find the melancholies of war largely absent as Hisaishi focuses more on the high-flying hopes that aviation offers as well as the journey Jiro makes in catapulting Japan’s aviation industry forward. That said, there’s a bittersweetness from knowing that this will be the last Hayao Miyazaki / Joe Hisaishi collaboration. While Hisaishi will undoubtedly continue composing for Studio Ghibli’s films, we wonder whether we shall ever see such dazzling synergies of music, story, and visuals on the level of what we’ve witnessed between Joe Hisaishi and Hayao Miyazaki.

Rating: Excellent

zzeroparticle

Anime Instrumentality's Founder and Editor-in-Chief. As you can probably guess, I'm a big anime music junkie with a special love for composers who've put out some beautiful melodies to accompany some of my favorite anime series. I tend to gravitate towards music in the classical style with Joe Hisaishi and Yoko Kanno being a few of my favorite composers, but I've come to appreciate jazz and rock as anime music has widened my tastes.

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