SOAS University of London

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies

The Wind Rises and ‘Surrealism’, ‘Ontology’ and ‘Origami Unicorns’

Speaker: Laz Carter

The Wind Rises / Kaze Tachinu (Hayao Miyazaki, 2013) is the final film directed by ‘Hayao Miyazaki’, and is indubitably distinct from the previous ten films that comprise his directorial oeuvre. One such way in which this swansong distinguishes itself is through its relationship with ‘realism’ and ‘ontology’ – at least, in comparison to the earlier canon of ‘Studio Ghibli’. But precisely how close is this relationship between animated ‘fantasyscape’ (Napier, 2005:293) and ‘ontological’ actuality? What clues are present in the text that encourages a more nuanced, ‘surrealist’ reading than the film’s ‘narrative-image’ (Neale, 2000:160) initially implies? This article examines the anime’s ‘ontological’ relationship primarily through textual analysis of The Wind Rises. Through addressing the subjective nature of a ‘surrealist’ ‘aca-fan’ (Hills, 2002: xxvi) reading by utilising Henry Jenkin’s concept of the ‘origami unicorn’ (2006:123), this paper highlights specific scenes from the film’s narrative which an individual viewer may interpret as acting against an inherently ‘ontological’ interpretation. Furthermore, this analysis incorporates an acknowledgement of the ‘extratextual’ materials which surround the text, as well as the ‘intertextual’ relationships to other anime within the Ghibli ‘branded-subgenre’ (Denison, 2015:11, emphasis in original), and speculates as to how these factors contribute to one’s ‘ontological’ reading of the anime. By determining the possible relationships between ‘realism’ and ‘fan’ in The Wind Rises, one can highlight and critique the complex web of presumptions and connections one makes when consuming contemporary animation through an ‘ontological’ lens more generally.