About a Luftwaffe pilot who must choose between his duty to his country: to guard a bomber loaded with Germany's final hope of victory... the world's first atomic bomb... or his duty to the world: to let it fall in flames to enemy Spitfires and be a footnote in history. Of course, things are complicated by the plane's other cargo... the woman he loves.
2. Sonic Boom Squadron
Near the end of the war, Japan has implemented a new weapon -- a human-piloted rocket-propelled flying bomb. Aboard a bomber carrying one of these, young Ensign Nogami awaits his chance to die as a "cherry blossom", a suicide pilot. In a few hours, he will die. The date of his death is set: August 6, 1945.
3. Knight of the Iron Dragon
Two soldiers attempt to reach an air base in order to fulfill a promise despite the fact that it might have been rendered moot in the reality of war.
Time to review another obscure OVA! This time we're looking at The Cockpit. This 1993 OVA had EVERYTHING going for it, but still somehow managed to wind up terrible. It was written by Leiji Matsumoto, who also did the character designs. The director was Yoshiaki Kawajiri, who directed such classics as Ninja Scroll and Vampire Hunter D. This was also made by Madhouse on an impressive budget. The plot is WW2 from the eyes of Axis fighter pilots.
So I went into this expecting something like Das Boot. Many of the Axis soldiers will be humanized and realistic, while also being staunchly anti-war and pointing
out all the atrocities on all sides. Nope! Well maybe it will be like "Blonde Knight of Germany" the biography of ace pilot Erich Hartmann. It will focus on just one figure on the axis side and lionize him while still not turning into Nazi propaganda. Nope! This is split into 3 episodes and they're all kind of mess.
A German ace pilot (who happens to look like Harlock), is given a very important mission. He must defend a secret German bomber plane that's carrying an atomic bomb and heading towards London. To add some melodrama, his girlfriend is a nuclear physicist and was the one who designed the bomb. To add even more drama, she is being forced to ride on the plane carrying the bomb so she can witness its destructive power! Remember when America forced Robert Oppenheimer to ride on the Enola Gay and witness the atomic bombings? I sure fucking don't! The physicist girl begs German Harlock to shoot the plane down. He must not let Hitler use atomic weapons to exterminate the people of the UK, US, and USSR. "Any country that would use atomic weapons is a country that has forever lost its soul!" Yes Matsumoto! We get it! Nuking people is bad! German Harlock shoots down the plane and we get this gem of a quote. "I may be remembered as a coward and a traitor, but Germany's honor has been spared. Germany refused to sell its soul". Yep, if any country ended WW2 with its reputation intact and its national honor unsullied it was Germany. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uuL6cJPz3Nk
We get to hear the tale of a noble Kamikaze pilot and his co-pilot the blob person...who looks like the Schmoo. The main pilot is a selfless and noble character who simply wishes to defend his country by any means necessary. This means piloting the man guided missile known as the Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka into an American aircraft carrier. Throughout the episode, Americans are astonished by the speed and technological marvel of the Ohka. These Yanks are just shitting their pants at how awesome the thing is. Our hero pilots the Ohka into a capital class Aircraft carrier and just annihilates it, killing thousands of American soldiers in 1 glorious blow. Here's the problem with this. The Ohka was a complete failure and an utter piece of shit. Americans laughed their asses off at it. In fact, the whole tactic of Kamikaze in the Pacific was an utter failure. Japan lost 2,800 planes and pilots to kill a mere 4,900 American soldiers. No American carrier or capital ship was EVER sunk by a Kamikaze, certainly not a fucking Ohka. The Germans killed almost ten times that many Americans just using land mines. This anime is like watching a German war film that is 1/10th anti-war and 9/10ths celebrating how fucking AMAZING the Panzer ViII Maus was. Americans see it and just defecate in fear before 1 Maus kills 100,000 American pig dogs. The fact that it had 1/5th the horsepower required for its weight and was so inefficient just made it SO cool! How about a Russian film that spends all its time celebrating how AMAZING the LaGG-3 was? From a historical viewpoint I just fucking hate this anime so much!
Some Japanese soldiers are the only 2 left on an island and must decide what to do. They make the logical choice and charge American machine guns in order to go out in a blaze of glory. Oh and Matsumoto decided to draw the 2 Japanese characters as monkeys for some reason. Maybe it was supposed to symbolize something, but it looks like he saw some of those old racist Loony Toons drawings of Japanese and said "Hold muh beer!"
Art and Sound:
The art for the most part is spectacular, especially the first episode. The soundtrack by Kaoru Wada is at least acceptable and does its job. This is a fairly well made film in terms of production values, which just makes it all the more sad.
I really wanted to like this movie. I generally enjoy Matsumoto. I love Kawajiri as a director. Hell, I own Ninja Scroll, Vampire Hunter D, and Cyber City Oedo on DVD. I love old school Studio Madhouse from the late 80s and early 90s. This anime though was just balls. The ludicrous historical inaccuracy, chest thumping patriotism, needless anti-Americanism, and Axis propaganda bullshit was all just too much. If you want to watch an Axis propaganda film, just go watch Triumph of the Will from 1935. Watch Olympia from 1938. Don't watch this piece of dog shit.
The Cockpit is a collection of three animated short stories focused on World War II adapted from source material written by acclaimed creator of Captain Harlock, Leiji Matsumoto. Each of the stories explore how different soldiers cope with an aspect of war with Slipstream featuring a German pilot's hesitance to do an escort mission involving a nuclear warhead, Sonic Boom Squadron's focus on a Japanese kamikaze pilot and Knight of the Iron Dragon focus on a pair of soldiers trying to make it to an air base unaware of its current occupancy by American forces.
All three shorts carry a sense of tragedy and inevitability with
what the characters face in their endeavors as The Cockpit doesn't hold back any punches in depicting the reality of war and the harshness of the regimes in which the characters are entangled with. Each story accomplishes a unique take to the tragedies faced by the characters. Slipstream's lead character, the German pilot, must choose between redemption for being labeled a coward by his superiors or what he finds to be morally right through the escort mission. Sonic Boom Squadron switches perspectives quite often throughout its run between American and Japanese forces to show how each side perceives the other in regards to kamikaze methods. Knight of the Iron Dragon is the more light-hearted of the bunch with some of the silly behavior of the two soldiers as they press to reach their air base, unaware of the inevitable tragedy that is to come for them.
These perspectives of war help to paint a more human side to two of history's more infamous regimes, which also makes the film a bit controversial to more sensitive audiences who wouldn't want to see a movie that attempts to humanize these regimes despite the horrific deeds they committed in World War II. If you are sensitive to the mention of sympathizing with Nazi Germany or Emperor Hirohito's rule over Japan, then this movie will definitely not be to your liking.
Visually, The Cockpit is a well-animated anthology with nicely detailed designs of planes and naval vessels and vast shots of scenery. Aerial dogfights were nicely animated as planes were fluid in their movements and the different titles showed a nice diversity of camera shots such as first-person POV shots from the cockpit and aerial shots of a plane moving about while in action. Character designs are a bit of a mixed bag though as the shorts tend to make use of Matsumoto's drawing style for many character designs. While some characters are reasonably proportioned and drawn with proper anatomical details, others look deformed and rather crude-looking in their designs. This is especially notable in the designs of a number of characters for Sonic Boom Squadron and Knight of the Iron Dragon.
If you're a fan of war anime based on historical events and have an open mind, then The Cockpit offers some unique perspectives on two of World War II's most infamous regimes that paint them in a sympathetic light despite what inevitably happens to them.
Ok, this is a three part OVA series so I am going to give each individual episode a rating and mini-review.
This episode could be the only one you watch and you are not missing anything. This is my personal favorite out of the three. It makes me wish that this episode alone evolved into it's own short 6 episode anime, with more backstory. You get a Nazi viewpoint of WWII and you end up caring for the main two Nazi's. The ending is very satisfying but a little emotional.
It is a great aviation short!
#2-Sonic Boom Squadron:
This episode is alright, it has an
interesting story. The only factor that throws me off is the design of most of the Japanese characters. A lot of the pilots look very deformed and almost as if they were "inbred"; and it really takes away from the serious tone. (Though the Americans look great) You follow a pilot whom pilots a suicide missile/plane hybrid; as he struggles to find the right time to launch. The aviation battle scenes are what keep this episode "above the water".
#3-Knight of the Iron Dragon:
Ok, this is the worst episode, the serious tone only lasts for maybe a minute. All of the characters now have the goofy "inbred" look to them, again, except for the few Americans in this episode. This episode can honestly be skipped, as none of these episodes relate to one another. You follow a boy and a kind solider as they try to retake their home base. Like the others, the ending is quite sour as well, but i had little-to no emotion for what happens to these characters.
The art style of the characters ruins this episode, and the whole "aviation" them is not present except for a quick plane encounter. No aerial dog-fights present at all.
Overall, I feel like episode #1 was too good when compared to the last two and lead to them feeling underwhelming. I would highly recommend episode 1, episode 2 is all-right, but dont waste your time with episode 3.
The Cockpit Review
There are no spoilers in this review
I just completed the three part OVA The Cockpit. An anime about three different theoretically possible World War 2 scenarios.
The story for each episode is independent from each other and is focused on the characters feelings of war and what they do to hold their own sense of honor during one of the most bloody wars in History.
It's interesting to watch these as an Australian as the story focuses on Axis Power soldiers. One German fighter pilot, one Japanese Ohka pilot and two Japanese infantry soldiers. It's interesting to see a perspective
which I never could comprehend on my own. I really like the story.
It's amazing how much the writer put into each episode without making it feel rushed.
I'm not sure what the quality of animation was like at the time this was created, being 1991. But the lowest points of the anime is the tech side. I think the only reason it is because of it's age. But it's art does something better than allot more modern anime does and that is nose, face and profile shots.
The Japanese characters tended to have their faces drawn weird for some reason but the other characters art style was something I really liked.
I would like to see a rebuild of this with a modern quality but still have the same style for the characters.
Overall though the sound, art, est where primitive and that's just a reflection of the time.
I think I have really said what I wanted in the story section so I'll be brief. The characterization was great. I liked all the characters allot.
I really liked this. It's relevant to my interests and is well executed. There is room for improvement but I was glad to have seen this. I'd say it should be an anime everyone see's at least once. At least for those who have an interest in history. I'm surprised at how good this turned out.