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Of purple suits and such: The Art of The Wind Rises

art of the wind risesIf you are looking forward to seeing Roger at ALA wearing a lavender-colored suit (as promised recently on Facebook) — this blog post is for you.

With The Art of The Wind Rises (April 2014), VIZ Media of San Francisco has published a visually stunning companion to Japanese director Hayao Mikazaki’s visually stunning animated film. Those who have seen the film know how immersive the experience is; how you feel transported, via the lushness and detail of the animation, into Taisho-era (1912-1926) Japan — and this book both extends the experience and takes you behind the scenes to show how it was done. For lovers of the movie, it’s a dream: almost 300 pages, in gorgeous color, of concept sketches, backgrounds, character and machine designs, and film stills, all augmented with commentary on the creative process by the film’s director, its art director and supervising animator, and others.

purple suitNot to get off-topic, but the book also explains what wasn’t at all clear to me watching the film: that the main character, Jiro, is a composite of Japanese aviation pioneer Jiro Horikoshi and novelist Tatsuo Hori, two influential figures in late-1930s Japan. I’m not sure that Miyazaki pulled off this feat (merging two actual historical people to make one fictional character), but he definitely succeeded in making a movie of unsurpassed beauty — and he and his team sure did rock that purple suit of Jiro’s. (Back on topic!) Here’s color designer Michiyo Yasuda on why: “For Jiro’s suit, I chose a light purple that’s a bit on the bright side. I think nowadays, new [Mitsubishi] employees wear gray or navy suits, but that’s not very interesting, so I tried to bring out a certain freshness with a soft and gentle color.” And yes, the book includes several stills of Jiro in the suit, including one large double-page spread of Jiro as a young man, determinedly striding into the future, as his first airplane design gets its first test flight.

Will Roger’s suit measure up to Jiro’s? Those who know his natty style and penchant for purple bet yes. But all will be revealed in Vegas!

Martha V. Parravano About Martha V. Parravano

Martha V. Parravano is book review editor of The Horn Book, Inc., and co-author of the Calling Caldecott blog.

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