When someone on his/her final project before retiring, that project would have ideas mostly from that person's mind to make it a really good swan song/farewell. Hayao Miyazaki, director of "Ponyo" and "Spirited Away" and one of the Studio Ghibli founders, directed his swan song that's based on a manga he've done based on a short story that became the emotional part of the movie. His final storytelling chapter, "The Wind Rises," is another, typical Ghibli masterpiece.
The story circles around a life of Jiro Horikoshi (dubbed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who dreams on flying. But with his problematic eyesight that would affect his flying, he became a plane designer, still with a dream of flying. Throughout his storyline, he kept having "connected" dreams with his idol who's an Italian plane designer Caproni (dubbed by Stanley Tucci) with the same dream (sort-of similar to Pixar's "Ratatouille" but in a dream way than a figment of imagination way (I think)). Jiro's path of following and living his dream includes shared wonder, few historic events, and a fictional rendition of his personal life, including love.
Naoko (dubbed by Emily Blunt) first met Jiro at a young age when her maid was saved by him during the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, then saw him again some years later. The two plots collide into a nice romance tale that became difficult in the second half. Naoko's character has a sad information that became predictable (if you've watch the Japanese trailer). While watching this difficult/hard and sad story, it becomes gripping as you're hoping the predictable outcome is false. This may've affected the film's rating, but it was developed to follow the title's meaning, and not enough to affect the film being in the A-movie range.
Studio Ghibli's latest masterpiece features typicality in their ways of telling stories with great [digitally enhancing] animation and having such a good heart. But not only those things, there are easter eggs of some or most of their past projects can only be seen with similar animation. It may not be the studio's best or the winner of 2013's Best Animated Feature (lost to Disney's "Frozen"), but it's definitely one of the studio's best and one of the year 2013's best. Like all the Ghibli films (most I haven't seen but I want to), this is a must-see flight. (A-)
This English dub also stars John Krasinski, Martin Short, Jennifer Grey, Mae Whitman, William H. Macy, Werner Herzog, Darrin Criss, and Elijah Wood.