I suspect my forthcoming Top 10 list isn’t the only place you’re going to see master animator Hayao Miyazaki’s final feature film, The Wind Rises, featured and celebrated prominently as 2013 comes to a close – read my review here – but in truth, the first time most Americans will have a chance to see the film is this February, when the movie arrives in theatres throughout the United States.
As per Disney’s normal practice for releasing Studio Ghibli films, an English-language dub has been produced – though for fans who want to see the subtitled version, it will also be made available to theatres – and today, we have a much better idea of what that adaptation will look (er, sound) like, as the English-language cast has been announced. Headed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt in the lead role, with high-profile actors like Emily Blunt, Stanley Tucci, John Krasinski, and Mandy Patinkin, it is an undoubtedly impressive assemblage of performs – but will they work in context of the film itself?
Judgments obviously cannot be made until the dub arrives, but overall, this has me interested. I am not someone who generally likes dubs of any sort in the first place, and while Disney has an erratic track record with Ghibli’s work, they have occasionally struck gold (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, and Arrietty are each arguably on par or superior to their Japanese-language versions). And while I will never cease to be at least initially annoyed by celebrity casting in dubs like these, there is a clear and obvious logic to the majority of casting decisions made here, and that fills me with hope.
For instance: Emily Blunt as protagonist Jiro Horikoshi’s love interest, Nahoko? Perfect. She will be able to bring a similar gentle but strong-willed quality to the part as Miori Takimoto did in Japanese. Stanley Tucci as Jiro’s mental projection of Italian aircraft designer Caproni makes total sense. And Werner Herzog as the mysterious Castorp, one of the most interesting and enigmatic – vocally and otherwise – characters in the film? That is pure, unfettered genius.
My initial reaction is that Gordon-Levitt is too young for this part, for while he is physically the same age as Jiro is in the film, the casting of 53-year-old veteran animator Hideaki Anno in the part in Japanese was not done on a whim – the older voice, plus the non-professional, almost instinctual quality of Anno’s performance is important to picking apart that character. But Gordon-Levitt is a great actor, and I am nevertheless interested to hear his interpretation, something that goes for the majority of cast members here.
Ultimately, I think The Wind Rises may prove to be too intrinsically, essentially Japanese to work well in any other language, but it seems to me a wholly respectable effort has been put forth, and I look forward to seeing what Disney has put together.
Take a look at the full cast listing below:
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Jiro Horikoshi
Emily Blunt as Nahoko Satomi
John Krasinski as Honjo
Martin Short as Kurokawa
Stanley Tucci as Caproni
Mandy Patinkin as Hattori
William H. Macy as Satomi
Werner Herzog as Castorp
Mae Whitman as Kayo and Kinu
Jennifer Grey as Mrs. Kurokawa
Darren Criss as Katayama
Elijah Wood as Sone
Ronan Farrow as Mitsubishi employee