It looks like Japanese public opinion is still divided on Ghibli’s new anime film, The Wind Rises (Kaze Tachinu), but commercially, the movie definitely seems to be bringing in the dollars (or yen in this case), with more than 2.2 million moviegoers seeing the film and the gross surpassing a whopping 2.8 billion yen (about US$28 million) in the first nine days of its release.

But now, people who have seen the movie are commenting that they’ve been fascinated by a certain unexpected aspect of the movie — something that involves smoke, but not airplane fumes, as you may guess from the fact that the movie is based on the life story of aircraft engineer Jiro Horikoshi. What people are actually talking about is the surprising number of scenes in which characters are seen smoking cigarettes, puffing away like there’s no tomorrow.

kazetachinu smokephoto: Conan via flickr 

We have to remember that Kaze Tachinu‘s story takes place in 1920s and 30s Japan, so it’s not strange at all to see people smoking to their hearts’ content, but that didn’t keep Japanese smokers who thought the cigarettes looked awfully good from commenting on all the huffing and puffing that went on in the film.

Here’s what some of them had to say:

I was actually kind of impressed to see the main character smoke so much, since it’s rare nowadays to see a protagonist in any movie smoke so openly.

What did I think of The Wind Rises? There were so many scenes of people smoking, it really, really made me want to smoke too. Oh, and yeah, it also made me want to have a girlfriend too, but reality can be harsh, can’t it?

Watching The Wind Rises seriously made me crave a cigarette. Darn, someone give me a cigarette, cigarette, cigarette …

I’ve been smoking more since I saw The Wind Rises.

While it’s true that Japan could be considered a country that is comparatively lenient towards smoking, with many restaurants for example offering both smoking and non-smoking tables, the rules restricting smoking in public areas have definitely become stricter in recent years, so perhaps it’s understandable that smokers would view the uninhibited smoking in the movie with a sense of nostalgia and envy.

Some viewers were even of the opinion that in this film, cigarettes seemed to take the place of the delicious-looking foods that often appear in other Ghibli movies, as expressed in comments such as the following:

– Come to think of it, the cigarettes really did look good in The Wind Rises. It was as if all the usual “Ghibli food power” was channeled into cigarettes this time.

– Yes, everyone seems to be smoking in The Wind Rises, and cigarettes are used as a very important prop. There wasn’t much of Ghibli’s usual depiction of tasty-looking food, but the cigarettes sure looked good.

It’s interesting to note that Hayao Miyazaki, Ghibli cofounder and director of The Wind Rises, is known to be a heavy smoker himself. He even donated more than 200 packs of cigarettes after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011 to one of the cities in the badly affected areas, so it’s no wonder that cigarettes are portrayed frequently and with great affection in the movie. In fact. Miyazaki is said to be a fan of the specific cigarette brand, Cherry, that was smoked by the film’s main character. Bad news for smokers who were tantalized by the images of all the cigarettes being consumed in the movie, though: Cherry cigarettes went out of production about two years ago and are now unavailable. However, some Ghibli/cigarette fans have expressed hopes that maybe the appearance of the cigarettes in the movie will result in their return by popular demand. We’ll have to wait and see about that …

▼ The out-of-production Cherry cigarettes

kazetachinu cherryphoto: Dokomademo blog

Not being a smoker myself, my attention was never really focused on the cigarettes when I saw the movie, and it was somewhat amusing to see the smokers’ reactions on the Internet, but then again, I guess I would have responded in a similar way, wanting to cry out, “Give me some of that!” if it had been scrumptious-looking foods being shown on the screen over and over again, instead of cigarettes.

With all that said, I think the smoking scenes in the film can be considered as simply portraying a by-gone era which Miyazaki himself is probably nostalgic for. It was a time when smoking was what people did, especially men at the workplace. But one thing does seems certain, judging by all the response from viewers of the film who apparently smoke —The Wind Rises may not be the best movie to watch if you’re trying to quit smoking!

Source: Naver Matome (Japanese)
Cinema Today (Japanese)