The Wind Rises review

Spirited Away creator's final animated gem soars to new heights

The final film by Japanese animation legend Hayao Miyazaki steps away from the supernatural and fantasy elements that has typified his best known work for a bittersweet tale based on the life-story of aeronautical engineer Jiro Horikoshi.

However, rather than give us a straightforward biography, Miyazaki instead serves up a fictionalised version of Horikoshi's life. An unusual step, certainly, but it helps The Wind Rises break free of the shackles of the biopic genre and lets it explore more deeply some central themes – including a celebration of the creative process and the way in which it can be distorted and corrupted by human folly.

As is typical of Miyazaki, the result is a majestic piece of cinema that reaches heights that many animators can only dream of attaining.

Picture: The Wind Rises lands on Blu-ray with a 1080p AVC encode framed at the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio that gets the best out of this visually striking animated feature. Vibrant primaries sit comfortably alongside more subtle water-colour-style backgrounds, while the linework is rendered with impeccable sharpness and delineation. Everything a Ghibli fan could hope for.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: The first thing to note about The Wind Rises' soundtrack is that Miyazaki insisted on the creation of a mono mix for the film. As such, both the original Japanese language track and the English dub are offered as LPCM 2.0 dual-mono.

This may disappoint home cinema fans surrounded by a phalanx of speakers, but trust us, this mix remains a work of art. The clarity and dynamic range evident in the track is impressive, showing what a modern mono track is capable of, and its focused nature draws increased attention to the movie's unusual sound design, with human vocalisations replacing traditional audio effects during a number of key scenes.
Audio rating: 4/5

Extras: The bonus bits here are worth a look. First up is a picture-in-picture storyboard mode for the entire film, a mainstay across the Studio Ghibli Blu-ray range. The disc also features the clumsily-titled Press Conference for the Announcement of the Completion of the Film. Featuring Miyazaki, voice artist Hideaki Anno and singer-songwriter Yumi Matsutoya fielding questions from the press, this surprisingly lengthy (89-minute) video actually does a decent job of digging into the film's production.

The Blu-ray also includes a reel of four TV spots and the UK theatrical trailer, and comes accompanied by a bonus DVD copy.
Extras rating: 2/5

We say: A triumphant finale to a spectacular career given the treatment it deserves on Blu-ray

The Wind Rises, StudioCanal, Region B BD & R2 DVD, £25 Approx