The movie is about the story of Jiro Horikoshi, a young Japanese lad who dreams of becoming a pilot in 1918. His dream, however, fails due to his poor eyesight. Later on, he admires the work of Giovanni Battista, an Italian aircraft designer, a person he comes to know through reading. He interestingly dreams of meeting Giovanni and Giovanni telling him that it is better to design planes rather than fly them. Caproni, the illusions encourages Jiro to pursue his dream though from a different angle. He advices him that he should dream first followed by the reality (Miyazaki, 2013).
Horikoshi later decides to study aeronautical engineering, a venture he undertakes at Tokyo Imperial University. He graduates from this school in 1927, after which he is employed by Mitsubishi, alongside his friend Kiro Honjo, who designs Mitsubishi G3M. While working at Mitsubishi, they are agitated by the Japanese lack of modern technology that makes their planes almost obsolete to a point of dejection by the army. Jiro is later sent to Germany to enhance his skills, learn on the modern technology and also get licensed to manufacture and fly Junker G.38.
Jiro is promoted to a chief designer in 1932, where he designs Mitsubishi 1MF10 that fails and gets rejected again. It is at this instance that he decides to take a rest at a resort where he meets Nahoko, a girl he had met on a train on his way to the University. This time, they court and get married later on under the stewardship of a Hans Castorp, a German.