SOAS University of London

Centre for Creative Industries, Media and Screen Studies

'Star Clustering' in Hayao Miyazaki's Kaze Tachinu / The Wind Rises (2013): '(Re-)Casting' 'Star Images' for the Global Marketplace

Speaker: Laz Carter

Hayao Miyazaki’s final film, Kaze Tachinu / The Wind Rises (2013), proved to be a highly controversial cinematic swansong. The subject matter deals with the industrialisation of Japan between the two World Wars and perhaps unsurprisingly critics of the film both in Japan and abroad denounced the Studio Ghibli animation. Yet despite this discontent the film released to both box office success, garnering over $100 million worldwide, and critical acclaim, earning a nomination for Best Animated Feature at the Academy Awards. The Wind Rises managed to overcome critical discontent by undergoing a radical transformation for Western audiences; Ghibli’s partnership with Disney produced an Anglophone version of the film vocalised with ‘Natural American English’ (John Lasseter quoted in Rayna Denison, 2007:317). This process of ‘(re-)casting’ and ‘(re-)dubbing’ the film de-emphasised the original narrative of the anime for English speaking audiences and in doing so boosted its chance of global success.

This paper analyses the interplay of forces at work during this transformative process, paying particular attention to the concept of ‘stardom’. Utilising the existing theories of ‘star-images’ (Richard Dyer, 1986:3) and ‘star-clusters’ (Rayna Denison, 2008:142), this analysis shall focus on three particular character case-studies within The Wind Rises – ‘Jirō Horikoshi’, ‘Nahoko Satomi’ and ‘Castorp’ – by studying the performances of both the original Japanese voice actors – ‘Hideaki Anno’, ‘Miori Takimoto’ and ‘Steve Alpert’ – as well as the American celebrity vocal artists – ‘Joseph Gordon-Levitt’, ‘Emily Blunt’ and ‘Werner Herzog’. Using such a method, this examination demonstrates that the cultural values associated with each specific ‘star-image’ can greatly impact upon the reading of a given text.