Shin Kazama, tricked and forced into flying for the remote country of Aslan, can only escape the hell of war by earning money for shooting down enemy planes or die trying. Through the course of the series, Shin must deal with the consequences of killing and friends dying around him as tries to keep his mind on freeing himself from this nightmare.
Simply put, the Area 88 OVA is a highly underrated anime series that does nearly everything right.
Story: I don't need to explain the concept too much since it's already on the page. It has two parts to it, an anti-war story and a long-distance romance story. The war story aspect revolves around Shin Kazama's life at Area 88 doing whatever mission he feels like doing. He never wanted to be a soldier, but he got tricked into it by Kanzaki and his whole personality has changed for the worse because of it. He went from a pacifist who just wanted a normal life being an airline pilot and dating the boss's daughter Ryoko. to a man who's learned to accept that he has to kill for a living and has gotten used to his life on Area 88 as he earns his 1.5 million dollar ticket back home to Japan. This comes into play in part 3 in a heartbreaking, yet realistic way. A couple of the missions are unique as well, including the tunnel sequence which was done even better than in the TV series.
The second part of the story revolves around Ryoko trying to find out where Shin is located and bring him home. All the while, Kanzaki is putting his master scheme to take over Yamato Airlines and steal Ryoko into play. Shin cares deeply for Ryoko and she is the driving force that keeps him alive, but the Shin that Ryoko once knew was gone and she doesn't realize it. Kanzaki, on the other hand, is a shrewd businessman who will do anything with money and power. This section of the story provides the emotion behind the story and it works excellently.
The story is attention grabbing with Shin's detatchment with the war and his love for Ryoko, and it only gets better from there.
Characters: Shin is the opposite of the mega manly character that the 80's possessed. (Kenshiro and Goku, to provide examples). He's a caring soul who was hardened and changed by the experienced in the war. He despises the fact that he kills people to survive, but he's the best pilot at Area 88. Mickey Simon is another pilot who knows the effects of war all too well and he's the more lighthearted character foil to Shin. Kanzaki is easily one of the cruelist villians in any anime I've seen. He'll hurt anyone and everyone in the way of his goals. The other minor characters have personalities all their own, from the cocky weapon/other item salesman McCoy to the comic relief character Greg.
Art: Despite the OVA being nearly 25 years old, the animation still looks excellent. The landscapes are well designed, especially in the cities. The dogfights were also well animated, with a great attention to detail placed into all the pieces of the plane that get blasted around once a plane was shot down and the flight sequences also look great considering how old the OVA is. I do think that the character designs are inferior to the TV series and the series does show it's age compared to the newer series.
To wrap up this long review, I've got few complaints with this OVA. The story was full of real emotions, the action was well animated, and each character had something to add to the story. I highly recommend watching this and running at only three hours, it's could hardly count as a waste of time.read more
Hey! Hey, you! Over here! Let me ask you something. Do you like watching jet fighters dogfight Top Gun style? You do? Great, I got just the thing for you!
Area 88 is a war drama filled with sweet, sweet dogfighting. It's actually quite the anti-war story and focuses on the dehumanization of the soldiers fighting in wars. If this is not up your alley don't worry! If you like dogfighting movies, for example Top Gun(just that Area 88 is an anti-war story and Top Gun is... well Top Gun) you're in for a treat! This got plenty of kick ass dogfighting!
Since I've already made the Top Gun comparison I will just say this: Area 88 is inferior due to lack of shirtless Tom Cruise playing volleyball.
The story takes place in the middle eastern nation of Aslan. Our main character Kazama Shin, a former rising star for Yamato Airlines is in the middle of Aslan's civil war as a mercenary due to being tricked into signing a contract which forces him to serve in Aslan's foreign legion. Each time he destroys an enemy jet he is given money and this money will be used torward the goal of being able to pay your way out of the contract. The premise sound a bit cartoony, but the rest of the story is very mature. It deals with Shin's struggle to win his freedom and him clinging to his humanity as he keeps killing and doing inhamane acts.
The story is also very good in portraying no side of the civil war as good nor evil. It's just another pointless war without any defenders of justice. This is quite refreshing and I applaude it for it's grey morality.
This thing is from 1985 so one would think the animation wouldn't be that good. That's where you're wrong. The characters looks cartoony(just like the premise), but the jets themselves looks very realistic (just like the story's themes). The jets are drawn in very high quality and the attention to detail is borderland ridicilous. The cartoony characters standing next to the highly realistic jet fighters looks a bit weird, but not a major complaint.
The dogfights also looks amazing. They are high octane with much movement and action. The jet's movements looks very good and smooth and the used cartridges coming out of the jets looks marvelous as well.
First off: f*ck the end song of the first ova. It's ages since I saw this ova and I still can't get that song out of my head. The soundtrack is quite fitting at all times. The soundtrack is split into two parts. Rock and pop. The rock is played during the dogfighting and fits perfectly. The pop is mostly played during the emotional moments and also fit quite well. Nothing beats seeing jets blow eachother up while listening to guitar riffs.
The voice acting and sound effects are also top notch. Shin himself sound very well and is quite emotional. His voice fits his sympathetic character. All the supporting actors are also good, but nothing that stands out.
The sound effects of the jets is very well executed. They all sound realistic and a jet fighters engine is surprisingly soothing to listen to. If you haven't figured it out yet I like jets.
The bread and butter of every story: the characters.
What? I can't add the jets as characters? Dammit! Anyhoo the characters are as the rest of this anime, well done. Shin's character is all about his struggle for freedom and his dehumanization. He is sympathetic and fun to watch. His struggle to cling to his humanity and return to the girl he loves is very intriguing to watch.
The side characters are hit and miss. They all serve the plot in a good manner and even the guy we are meant to hate is rather pitiful. Shin's love interest feel like she exist so Shin can have something to return to. The other inhabitants of Area 88 are all well good and helps Shin's development. Shin's best friend Mick is fun and so is the base's supplier of goods. They all feel like they exist to serve the plot, but they do so very well so I got no complaints.
Area 88 is an anti-war drama filled with kick ass jet fighting action scenes. The fights are allways entertaining and the character development is excellent. This is in my opinion an underrated jewel. If you like dogfithing and war dramas Area 88 is a must watch. It's just a shame there is no shirtless volleyball scene.
The story of Area 88 revolves around a young pilot named Shin Kazama whose life was going great, he had friends, a girlfriend, and was supposed to get a job at the prestigious Yamato Air Lines but Shin’s life takes a nose dive when one day to celebrate his achievements Shin’s buddy, Satoru invited Shin to go with him to a bar. Once Shin got drunk Satoru tricked him into signing a contract and selling him away to fight as a pilot for the distant country of Aslan, which is in the middle of a civil war. The only way to out of the military for Shin is to earn money by killing others in aerial combat, trying to run away, or just dying. The anime takes a look at the horrors of war in the eyes of solider wanting to escape, we get to see Shin struggle to keep his humanity as he slowly becomes desensitized to the horrific nature of war, being forced to kill people just like him and watch his own friends and acquaintances die in combat. What I find unique about this anime is that it places most of its emphasis on the aforementioned desensitizing effect war has on people, we see Shin over time getting used to killing people and seeing other die. This is what terrifies him the most and we see him begin to hate the person he has become and question if he can even live in society again after killing so many people. The anime uses a variety of basic motifs and symbols to reinforce the idea that no matter what he tries to do Shin cannot escape the horrors of war, not just because of the fact that he can’t leave the military but because he slowly lost his humanity to the war. The anime ends on a fairly ambiguous note and while some may find this frustrating as they want to see what happens to Shin I feel like this finale was completely intentional as its spontaneous nature is more impactful than it would have been if they ended it differently.
The characters in Area 88 are fairly strong for the most part, Shin is by far the highlight of this anime in terms of characters in the sense that he undergoes the most clear and interesting change over the course of the series, Shin starts as a young optimistic pilot and by the end becomes an empty husk of a man, this development is very well handled as we get to see the events that cause this change unfold in a very gradual manner. The entire cast in this anime lies in an area of grey morality as they can’t really be characterized as good or evil, even the pilots that Shin must kill aren't really evil, the war in this anime is not one between a good side and a bad side but one between two differing opinions, however there is one exception to this and that’s Satoru who leans more towards being evil, while he does have motivations behind him betraying Shin I don’t feel as though they are strong enough to justify him being a gray character. While Satoru never comes off as completely cartoonishly evil watching him does feel a bit jarring because of how he contrasts from the rest of the cast.
Area 88 was animated by Studio Pierrot and considering this OVA was from 1986 it looks amazing, the animation is crisp, detailed, and very fluent for its time. The proportions on the characters look amazing considering how old this anime is, and the backgrounds look great, I have no complaints.
Area 88 has a very powerful soundtrack filled with tense orchestral pieces to compliment the many life-or-death battles, and uses a lot of refreshing vocals. My favorite song from the OST is How far to Paradise, Dog Fight, and Blue Mirage.
I had a lot of fun watching Shin struggle with the horrors of war and seeing the well animated areal battles, there was not a single dull moment.
Area 88 is an anime that has managed to stand the test of time and is one I would recommend to any fan of war dramas. read more
Shin Kazama, a very promising young pilot with a bright future is on his way towards working for Yamato Airlines. Things are indeed looking up for the young man, as he's also dating the company owner's daughter Ryoko. His childhood friend Kanzaki, a very competitive man who will do anything to be at the top tricks him into getting drunk and signing a contract to fly and fight for the Foreign Legion. Shin must now do battle for a country he not only doesn't care about, but keep himself alive as well as maintain his grip on sanity. -summary
While there are a ton of older titles that many people will put their lives on the line as being the absolute best. I believe this lost gem from 1985, Area 88, was indeed one of the better titles of that time period, standing tall among many of the sacred cows. While many anime titles of that time period shocked with the brutal deaths and sexual themes; Area 88 not only was able to cause an eyebrow to raise with its death scenes, but its overall story involving one man's grief.
Based on the manga series that I've given up trying to track down and finish reading. Area 88 follows Shin Kazama as he works together with this mercenary group, whom is gripped in a full scale civil war lead by Prince Saki. The organization runs on very strict discipline and rules, and there are only three ways to leave the group; 1) Complete the three year service, 2) Earning $1.5 million dollars to buy their way out, and 3) Desertion, which will always and immediately end in execution when caught.
The outfit which is called the Aslan Royal Air Force, conducts a number of raids as well as sneak attacks that results in brutal dogfights. Shin detests the very notion of taking other peoples lives, but he's hoping to earn enough money very quickly to buy his way out, because three years is just too long of a wait; and whenever he's close to earning the last few dollars, he would suffer some kind of set back.
The character development is definitely among the anime's stronger attributes. It's impossible not to feel for Shin, because we all know he isn't there by choice and he has to endure some very hard decisions. This also includes the sometimes very tough assignments the group takes on. One mission sees the group having to conduct a night time operation, which involves maneuvering through a very dark cavern that almost certainly guarantees a quick flaming death on their way to hit a heavily armed target. They also have to battle against pilots either as skilled as they are or piloting far more advanced fighter jets.
Shin goes through several moments of homesickness, and there are various moments when the stress would take over and see him speaking to himself out loud. I felt he was very well written, since his constant angst doesn't come off as whining. It's not as if he's fighting for the fate of the Earth, and he has to man up and accept his fate. Not even close, the guy was dealt a raw deal and he doesn't even have a clue why. Plus he's forced to fight a war that's clearly none of his or the country of Japan's business.
The story also changes focus, and Shin's rival Kanzaki is also very well developed and the viewer will learn his true plans. He's a deplorable character that is only obsessed with being at the top. He plays a strong role in the plot, as does many of the side characters. Director Hisayuki Toriumi (Mysterious Cities of Gold), does an excellent job with making the most of the side characters and exploring various themes through them. One of the strongest themes running through the narrative is soldiers not being able to transition into normal lives after witnessing so much killing in combat. This is a form of post combat stress that alters people's lives drastically. I enjoyed the way it was handled here in its realism. The storytelling continues to excel as it also blends into the action scenes. The dogfights can be ferocious and should satisfy many action fans.
The animation of course looks dated as to be expected from a 1985 OVA; but the dated feel doesn't overshadow its grittiness or the masterful camera work on display. There are some real good close ups of the killings, and the air battles are in good detail. There are little to no shortcuts taken here because it plays into the story by depicting the horrors of war. The vehicle designs are excellent and I was able to pick out the MiG 21's, B-52 Bombers, F-20 Tigersharks, and of course, the F-16 Fighting Falcons pretty easily. The 80's soundtrack was a nice fit then, but sometimes sounds a little awkward. I can't complain about the voice acting. I enjoyed it for both languages and as usual I rather listen to the English dub, which I felt had some better lines.
The only issue I can really say that I have with this anime is the ending. It's not that it's bad because I don't actually think it is. I see the director's point and in some ways I agree, but I would have preferred something different. It's something that I believe will differ from person to person. In any case, when I think of truly great titles from the 80's, it's usually Area 88 somewhere as a frontrunner long before the usual suspects. I highly recommend this to those whom enjoy the more thought provoking anime. Plus the action scenes are definitely good enough for diehard action fans.
Highs: Very strong character development, action scenes
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