We all know that Hayao Miyazaki is deeply obsessed with airplanes, blimps, or any machinery of aviation. This obsession reveals itself as various flying objects in his works. Sometimes, they are merely products of his imagination, such as Möwe in NAISICAÄ OF THE VALLEY OF THE WIND, the castle in HOWL'S MOVING CASTLE, or Kiki's broom in KIKI'S DELIVERY SERVICE, but in many cases, his obsession with early aviation history manifests, as amphibians and speed planes in PORCO ROSSO. He likes to draw large biplanes, triplanes, or any other exotic airplanes from the first half of 20th century, paying extra attentions to details. He painstakingly animates this sense of 'lift', weightlessness at takeoff, or sense of wonder during flying. So, it is no surprise that Hayao Miyazaki's new film is based on the true story of Jiro Horikoshi, the legendary Japanese aircraft designer. It has been debated, however, how Miyazaki would handle the most critical topic about this hero of Japanese aviation technology: he designed many of the successful fighter airplanes during Sino-Japan War and Pacific War, including Mitsubishi A5M fighter, 'Claude' and A6M fighter, 'Zero'. The latter has gained notoriety for being the instrument of military madness; they were the symbol of Kamikaze attacks in the last days of the Pacific Theatre. We speculated how Miyazaki, known for his strong pacifist philosophy, would handle this topic, especially when the current political climate in Japan is leaning toward 're-militarization', i.e. enabling 'the right of collective self-defense'. In essence, his inner child loves to draw planes, to animate them, and to make them fly in his imagined world, while his adult mind tells him they are the devilish instruments of mass murder. How does he resolve this conflict?
Well, he didn't. Sort of. And come to think of it, he didn't have to.