This film says so much that an extra hour would benefit the pacing. Especially at the beginning when there were a lot of time skip, and to build up Jiro and Nahoko's relationship more.
Despite the pace, it is still so so so so so beautiful, exactly what you'd expect from Ghibli. Though this is the first time that I've noticed the quality of the animation (perhaps I was just not paying attention for previous films), especially for the smoke and small details. One day I will have this on blu-ray to truly appreciate the image quality.
Since the main character, Jiro, is an engineer, all you engineering people (and everyone else) definitely needs to watch this. Miyazaki frames the Zero plane as the result of Jiro's pursuit to design something beautiful rather than a machine intended for destruction. This disparity in PoV should remind us of the engineer's duty to society. Here's a better worded version of what I'm trying to say:
Miyazaki’s films are often preoccupied with absence, the value of things left behind and how the ghosts of beautiful things are traced onto our memories like the shadows of a nuclear fallout, and “The Wind Rises” looks back as only a culminating work can. His stories aren’t about the things we’ve lost so much as they’re about the act of remembering them, and though “The Wind Rises” doesn’t forgive us for our transgressions, it directs us back to the beautiful ideas from which they first sprang.via this review, which is a great analysis.
But even if you don't care about all of this, the film should invoke a sense of pride as an engineer seeing the plane come into fruition. Bonus for depicting slide rules and hand drafting, makes me glad we have calculators and CAD now. Would not want to be designing planes by hand...
I leave you with the main theme:
PS: "le vent se lève, il faut tenter de vivre" is a good quotation to live by.