This full 3DCG digital animation has story takes place in the far future after a pillar of huge fog appeared suddenly in the South Pole. This pillar, known as Jam, is actually a passage for an earth invasion.
In order to oppose the threat, the United Nations established an earth defense mechanism. Fukai Zero is a hero registered to the main force of earth defense and the special 5th flight squadron. His reconnaissance plane, Yukikaze (windblown snow) is the best tactical reconnaissance plane. His job is to collect battle information return safely to the base with the information. But one day when he about to finish his duty, an unidentified machine attacked him...
Gonzo spent a lot of money on Yukikaze. As a result it isn't just eye candy, it is one lush, decadent seven course feast. The meld between hand drawn and cg is near seamless and the characters are both beautiful and realistic. Afterburners generate realistic heat waves and jet fighters leave misty contrails in alien skys. The palette is somber and a bit dream like. Technical drawings are beyond reproach and much of the sound is taken from real aircraft and well matched to the action.
The OAV is based on a novel, Sentou Yousei Yukikaze (Good Luck Yukikaze) by science fiction author Chohei Kambayashi.
It is a mature and introspective, blurring the edges between the sane and insane. Between amazing flight sequences, the story muses about what happens to those who, in fighting to protect everyone else, distance themselves from the very thing they face death to protect. There is also a 2001: Space Odyssey like look at the relationship between a pilot and his seemingly sentient aircraft. It does feel like a lot of back story and character development was left in the novel or on the cutting room floor. Prepare to think hard and still not be quite sure what is going on especially in the middle episodes.
The ending wasn't as strong as it could have been but it did deliver closure. I'm wondering if perhaps they spent so much money they had to cut production short. One wonders just what level of masterpiece this could have been had there been enough episodes to fill in the blanks.
One reviewer calls it, "A mix of military aircraft fanatic extravaganza, spectacular computer-animated aerial combat sequences, melancholy antisocial relationships, multi-layered allegory, and surreal imagery, Yukikaze is almost as strange and scattered as it is gorgeous. As interesting as it is, the plot seems to be missing key pieces and I'd call it something of an acquired taste." I would agree. I loved it but not everyone will.
The best part about Yukikaze is the animation -- the 3D CG animation of the planes combines fairly smoothly with the 2D animation. The characters are drawn in a more realistic style than typical for anime (i.e. eyes that aren't huge). That is about all I liked about Yuikaze. The story had potential, but I think there weren't enough episodes for the information they wanted to get across. Scenes would change to something completely different without any indication or explanation, and while the confusion was meant to create a mood, I had trouble following the plot as a result; I felt like I missed an
episode in between every episode. While I like anime that don't spell everything out for you, like Lain, this did not leave me with enough information to actually CARE. The characters were not very well developed; I still don't understand why there is such a strong bond between Jack and Fei, or what motivates these characters to act in the way they do.
In short, I give it props for the animation and the potential for the story, but the execution wasn't very good at all.
A very pretty and detailed OVA but the plot is too disjointed and confusing.
PLOT: I liked the premise of the plot and the setting of the action, but felt that the execution could have been much better. The scripting just feels random and it's almost like there are huge chunks of exposition cut from the final edit. I did like the realistic approach to warfare and the fact that there is no mecha – its all fighter jets, but I did feel that they went overboard with the techno-jargon as all that just went straight over my head! The central characters are no where near
well developed enough, a bit of backstory on Jack and Rei would have been nice – but considering this is a 5 episode OVA with a massive cast they have done quite well in the character development department. My corrupted brain decided that there was definitely some BL undertones in the relationship between Jack & Rei, and it really wanted some sort of confirmation of that…….but that’s probably just me! The aliens could have done with a bit of development as well, as it is they remain as mysterious at the end as they were at the start. But all in all for a short OVA series the plot was interesting, if not solely there to link together the fabulous battle scenes.
ANIMATION: The animation in this is absolutely 1st class! Wonderful use of CGI throughout great detailing in the backgrounds, well executed and choreographed fight scenes and attractive character designs. Lots of colour – loved the green skies of the planet Fairy (kind of had DBZ Namek flashbacks though) and the colour displays of the JAM aircraft – it’s all very visually appealing and most of my enjoyment of the series stemmed from the brilliant graphics.
MUSIC & VOICE ACTING: I did not like the OP at all – seemed very discordant and random on the ear. Also the ED was a decent track but didn’t seem to fit with the tone of the show, as it is a bit too upbeat. The BGM was excellent though. Voice acting is quite solid, although Rei is a wee bit too soft spoken and depressed sounding, to extent he comes across as extremely emo.
Overall a solid OVA that has excellent graphics and an interesting plot, but suffers from bad pacing and a confusing structure. This may have worked better if it was fleshed out more as a longer series or if it had of been trimmed right back to movie length.
Yukikaze is a breathtaking piece of work. At a glance it is unarguably about air battles, but don't mistake it for another 'Last Exile'.
It is a mature work that requires a lot of effort in order to appreciate. The plot is complex and spirals in a maze that makes it hard to differentiate which is reality and dreams. Though it can be hard to decipher, it corresponds to the complexity of both Yukikaze's and Rei's personality. The developing personality of Yukikaze and the repression of Rei's is fascinating and intriguing. Along with the frustration as an audience of the incomprehensible actions of Yukikaze and
Rei resounds in Jack, who is Rei's commander and seemingly his only friend, it weaves an intricate story. Rei's inner struggle as he drifts between humans and Yukikaze is the feature of this show. Minus point for some plot-holes, but it otherwise leaves you gripping your seat through the battles and the winding plot gives a bittersweet taste at the end.
The seamlessly woven cg and traditional artwork into the blend of raging air battle is absolutely heart-stopping. The sheer amount of detail is extraordinary and does justice to the story. The art direction emphasises the plots and the feelings of both pilot and plane, a feeling of isolation, alienation and occasionally frustration.
This is not an anime to be missed for both lovers and haters of this genre. The time spent watching this was well-spent and most definitely unforgettable.