"When I have kids I'm definitely going to show them all the Ghibli films" my friend informed me the other day whilst reading The Guardian and reflecting on the gentrification of Peckham. It has become a cliché statement but one that aptly shows how Studio Ghibli has become one of the most loved animation film studios, with founder and key film maker, Hayao Miyazaki at the forefront, taking the brunt of all this love. Miyazaki has had an illustrious career to date, directing ten feature length animated films and being involved in many more. Now, with The Wind Rises, Miyazaki has made his final film, retiring and thus bringing to an end a stream of consistently spectacular films. However, he has not retired in the manner that viewers would expect.

The Miyazaki that we have come to love and enjoy, with films like Princess Mononoke, Howl's Moving Castle and -a personal favourite of mine- My Neighbour Totoro is a director who delves into his various fantastical narratives, creating worlds in which audiences can lose themselves and become completely immersed within. From a giant cat morphing itself into a bus to a bathing house for the Gods, Miyazaki has unleashed, time after time, imaginative and captivating fantasy-based stories, that is, until his most recent and final film. The Wind Rises is a grounded drama retelling the life of Jiro Horikoshi, designer of the Mitsubishi A5M and later, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero, two aircrafts used during the Second World War by the Japanese Empire.

It begins as many other Miyazaki films start, a child in rural Japan with a vivid imagination. In the opening five minutes there is a dream sequence in which Jiro flies a plane from the top of his family home, soaring into the sky, before being interrupted by a flock of demonic, seemingly sentient machines that chase him, breaking his plane and sending him hurtling to the ground, at which point he awakes with a start. This sequence aptly shows the detachment between fantasy and reality opposed to his other features which blend the two together. In The Wind Rises Miyazaki, on the surface, is making a film which completely juxtaposes all his previous films. It is realistic and tragic. Jiro, our protagonist, from the very start is surrounded by natural and human atrocities in abundance. An earthquake which upends the train he is on and destroys the college he is to attend and WWII being two strong examples. However it is only on the surface which this film is in contrast to his other triumphs. Other than the largely differing aesthetics and genre, this is like any of his previous films.

In My Neighbour Totoro Satsuki and Mei's mother is dying in hospital, these characters escape this harsh and brutal reality, to embark on an adventure with the large friendly creature, Totoro. Much like in Spirited Away, where Chihiro is undergoing the trauma of moving house and we see her become an employee in a bathing house for Gods. This idea of escapism is one that is heavily explored in The Wind Rises. However it is not an escape into a new physical world, it is Jiro's escape into his own imagination, into his work and into his art. He's escaping the same realities, his lover who is dying, his country that's at war and yet he works and creates.

So this, the final film from the master and creator of Studio Ghibli, for me, is a fitting end and a tribute to his fine pieces of work to date. The fact that it is not a fantasy may unnerve and even displease some, but for me it perfectly ties together his oeuvre, communicating in a serious and realistic manner the ideas that were present in his previous films. Jiro the dreamer, seemingly representing, in his determination and lifelong dedication to art, Miyazaki, a man who has created dream after dream, and with them he has brought joy to many around the world of all ages.

Discover: The 405 Hall of Fame: Hayao Miyazaki