At first glance, you know that there is something notably different about The Art of The Wind Rises compared to the other art books out there. It has no dust jacket, it’s layout is portrait and is densely filled with 224 pages of art. It makes sense that a book about a Japanese animation studio looks almost out of place in one’s art book collection. That’s because The Art of The Wind Rises is different, for better and for worse.
The book isn’t divided into main chapters or sections, but rather just follows the chronological narrative of the film. Literally, we go scene by scene and nothing is left out. If there are new characters introduced in a scene, then that’s when the author finds it appropriate to introduce that character in the book with the filmmakers’ quotes about the character and model sheets.
For the most part, the book features only finished art from the film. What’s interesting is that roughly 50% of the art in The Art of The Wind Rises is final frames pulled directly from the film. Another 25% is final backgrounds. Then the rest is either storyboards, character models, and other art. In a way, this is a bit disappointing because we get no character or scene exploration. We don’t get to see concept or development art of Jiro, instead we just see Jiro as he appears in the final film.
Regarding the “making of” the film, there was less of that than just actual regurgitation of dialogue and context from the final film. For example, one page would feature six final frames from the movie from one scene. The explanation text for these frames would just explain what was going on in each scene. This made the reading experience a bit redundant for those who had already seen the movie and were looking for a more in-depth, behind the scenes look at the Miyazaki’s final film.
However, you can’t debate the fact that the art in The Wind Rises is beautiful. The color palette is simple, yet incredibly saturated. Studio Ghibli’s traditional animation is very nostalgic, which fits perfectly with the 1940s Japan theme. Getting the opportunity to explore this colorful world through static images was a real treat.
There were some interesting inclusions at the end of the book, particularly pages of the film’s movie posters and the complete English-language script. I have never seen a film’s script included in an art book, but I was really impressed it was there and would love to see that more in other art books