The Sky Crawlers

Title:The Sky Crawlers
Sky Crawlers
Keywords: , , , , ,
Notables: Animation - Production I.G.
OSHII Mamoru
In a world very similar to ours, there are children who do not age. They're known as "Kildren," and they're fighting a war. Against whom, and to what end is not important. One such boy, a young fighter pilot named Yuichi Kannami, arrives at his base out in the country, assigned to a small battalion. He's never met these people before, but soon finds himself in an alarmingly familiar routine, acting out relationships that seem predestined. Of course, this has all happened before.

(summary and review at ANN)

Animation by Production I.G.
Directed by OSHII Mamoru.
Movie released in the theaters on Aug 2nd '08.
Released on DVD/Blue Ray in Feb '09.

122min Movie.

1min Movie Trailer - ANN streaming vid
Episode Details 
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Unevaluated Forbin [series:1849#1573]

It was ok.

I KNOW it was giving us a dual message (war is pointless) and (children becoming an adult)

But I didn't really get into it.

Last updated Wednesday, December 16 2009. Created Wednesday, December 16 2009.
Rent 10 10 7 8 8 Ggultra2764 [series:1849#1552]
Marking off my 300th review on Mikomi is Sky Crawlers, the latest movie directed by Jin-Roh director Mamoru Oshii. This movie's two major highlights from folks are the impressive visuals and the mystery of the origins of the characters. I'll discuss the visuals first. The artwork and animation of Sky Crawlers is rendered in some excellently-rendered CG animation with scenery and plane designs looking well polished and very detailed. Animation in plane battle scenes was very fluid with some well-done camera shots of seeing a first-person shot of the pilot's view as he/she aims at their target or makes a landing. Too bad the character designs don't match up to the plane and scenery designs as they are rather simplistic compered to the other visual treats in this movie.

In terms of plot, Sky Crawlers makes a character-driven sci-fi drama out of the motives behind the plane brigade groups that Yuichi and the other Kildren work for, as well as Yuichi's own origins. As the movie presses on, more details and new questions regarding the plane groups are unveiled as the war being fought is more of a murderous entertainment business instead of actual battles. Considering the television coverage of the aerial dogfights, folks seem to get enjoyment out of the battles for whatever reason. The facts surrounding the original owner of Yuichi's plane and the unusual detachment that the Kildern pilots and their support crew have for them get explored as well, especially with the actions Yuichi's superior shows towards him. As the movie progresses, there are signs of more emotion coming out of some of the characters as we come to learn more of the true nature of Yuichi and the other Kildren.

The movie does have a number of unexplored questions however that keeps me from giving it a Buy. Who is the rival brigade that Yuichi's group engages in dogfights with? Who's the 'teacher' that is their ace pilot? Why are these competitions being fought and why are the Kildern being used repeatedly for them? In addition, the fact that Yuichi and his superior chose to accept their fates in the competitions instead of finding a means to escape them didn't really make for the best conclusion to this movie for me.

Despite some glaring flaws though, Sky Crawlers was a decent movie with impressive aerial battle scenes and a dark storyline. Its not a good enough movie I'd be willing to buy. But the 2 hours I seen of it was enjoyable enough for me.

Last updated Monday, October 12 2009. Created Monday, October 12 2009.
Rent Stretch [series:1849#628]
This is a movie which consists of a mix of awesome three-dimensional aerial combat and three mysteries being gradually resolved between missions. First of all, what sort of war is this, where the pilots are addressed using not military but rather business terminology, like "boss" and "full-timer"? Secondly, what happened to the pilot that male protagonist Kannami is replacing? Nobody seems to want to talk about him. And finally, who is the enemy ace known as "The Teacher"?

Through hints dropped here and there we learn that Kannami and his fellow pilots fly not for an Air Force, but for a "Contracted Warfare Company". There's a vaguely eerie feel to things, what with simple, unemotional character designs and scenes being thinly populated. Fighting seems to take place on a small scale (at first), more like aerial gladiator matches than total warfare. The results of even small dogfights are immediately posted on TV. I thought that the final revelation of just what the real purpose of the conflict was was handled well and was both surprising and intriguing. It didn't make complete sense (for instance, how is "experience" retrieved from the mangled bodies of dead aviators in crashed planes?) but it wasn't necessary to understand every possible angle in order to find it startling. I'm sure I didn't. The solution of the second mystery, regarding Kannami's predecessor, turned out to have the same solution as the first, which keeps things tidy. What confused me a bit was that the movie still had a scene in store after what seemed the obvious climax to me. This final scene--an action scene--provided the answer to the third mystery, but this one did not particularly impress me. It didn't make a whole lot of sense, actually; the scene seemed kind of anti-climactic. Kannami and his boss Kusanagi have finally figured out what's going on, but just continuing to go about their duties doesn't promise to resolve anything. It could be that this frustrating development was intentional: one thing which got me interested in this movie (besides the planes) was that I read that this was director Mamoru Oshii's indictment of the anime industry for cranking out repetitive and unimaginitive shows and it's average fan for gladly watching them. For most of the movie I couldn't see any signs of that, but in a sense this might be his here's-what-you-get-for-watching-crappy-shows treatment of the audience. Don't miss another brief scene after the credits, which fixes things up a little. Anyway, the action was exciting and technically fascinating, while the plot (for the most part) was intriguing and fun. A neat movie.

My favorite line: "Ace chicks are a pain in the ass" --Tokino

Last updated Friday, May 29 2009. Created Saturday, May 23 2009.
Rent Jan-Chan [series:1849#967]
In my forlorn youth, I remember coming home after school and sitting down to watch the ‘afternoon special movie’ on TV. They were all bad, low budget and mostly forgotten ‘B’ or ‘C’ rated movies, not that I understood any of this (hey, I was young).

Well, one of the movies that I remember watching was a 1940’s or 50’s WW2 movie about an American pilot who gets sent to a rural airstrip in England to help in the fight against the Germans. A story about a stranger (the main character) trying to relate to his fellow pilots who were a mixed group of people, accepting of death while trying live the moment. Backing them is a group of colorful support staff. Of course there has to be the local girl ‘romance interest’ to provide some human contrast to those minutes dedicated to the actual air war and combat scenes - thrilling footage of planes and pilots engaged in a battle-to-the-death. The unmemorable movie that I remember seeing was probably The Way to the Stars, but seeing Sky Crawlers somehow just reminded me of it.

Set with a scifi twist, Sky Crawlers tells the tale of genetically altered pilots (‘Kildren’) who pilot exotic propeller aircraft that look like something like what the Germans were creating at the end of WW2 (specifically the Focke-Wolf tail-engine double prop fighter). The world that they live in is reminiscent of our 1940s, but it is a world where ‘war’ has been replaced by formalized corporate competitions in which ‘sponsored teams’ of pilots and planes fight against each other for the advantage of their companies and for the entertainment of fans.

The main character, Yuichi is transferred to fill a vacant pilot position of an air wing stationed in a rural country village. He quickly realizes that the previous pilot did not die from enemy action, but rather from other causes, and that he has been selected to fill not just a vacant position, but the role of the previous pilot in the tight-knit team that comprise the air wing. And with a frightening ease, he finds himself drawn into routines and relationships that somehow first appeared strange.

One can expect a story that comes across as a slow moving character driven drama, as it explores the relationships between the different pilots, the support team and the local villagers. Just who are the ‘Kildren’? Why and how are they involved in this ‘competitive war’? Who is the ace pilot of the enemy? Someone known only as the ‘teacher’; someone who was a mentor to their commander and is now fighting for the other side. The drama of their story is punctuated by the various missions launched against the ‘enemy’ in which beautiful and exotic airships battle each other while racing through the clouds.

My biggest praise and my loudest complaint regarding SKY CRAWLERS would have to be the quality of the animation. The background scenes and aircraft action are all computer generated – top notch quality worthy of being included in a computer game, but the character animation is SH*T!!! Simple character drawings, minimal shading, no details – brutal pen-n-ink characters dancing across lavish and detailed back drops (almost as bad as Porfy no Nagai Tabi).

But the story told in SKY CRAWLERS is an interesting one. Things are not clearly stated or explained, but rather just mentioned in passing – which if one is not paying attention could easily just slip by. But the clues are there, if one listens carefully..… which leaves a bit of a surreal feeling. Are they puppets on a string destined to replay their lives until they get it ‘right’? Or are they somehow trapped in some unforgiving purgatory of destiny?

Well whatever the decision, we can expect the flight simulator computer game Sky Crawler: Innocent Aces to feature exotic aircraft and fast combat action.

I have posted some images in Episode Details section.

Last updated Monday, May 18 2009. Created Monday, March 02 2009.

Other Sites
Official (Japanese) Movie Web Site
Wikipedia Entry - Sky Crawlers

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