Area 88 (OVA)

Title:Area 88 (OVA)
Keywords: , , , ,
Notables: FURUKAWA Toshio
IKEMIZU Michihiro
R1 License - ADV (Renamed)
R1 License - Central Park Media(Defunct)
YUKINO Satsuki
Area 88 is a secret airbase in the fictional Middle East kingdom of Asram, which is torn by civil war. It houses a unique unit, a squadron of mercenary jet pilots, which is routinely assigned the most dangerous missions. Among the best of these pilots is Shin Kazama, who wound up at Area 88 as a result of being betrayed by a friend. This fellow got Shin drunk, tricked him into enlisting as a mercenary pilot, then skedaddled back to Tokyo to seduce Shin's girlfriend. Shin now has few options open to him: get killed in action, serve out his three year enlistment, or perhaps earn $1.5 million through destroying enemy equipment to buy out his "contract" and end his tour of duty early. He attempts this course, but is tormented by thoughts of the countless men he must kill in order to succeed. There is one last option--he could attempt to desert...

[OVA, 1985, 3 episodes, 53+58+92 min; see also: Area 88 (TV)]
OverallArtAnimationCharacter Design MusicSeries StoryEpisode StoryReviewer
Watch 8 9 7 6 6 6 Ggultra2764 [series:642#1552]
This mixed package of an OAV series wowed me in some ways and had me bewildered in others. This OAV paints a believable focus on the strain that life-and-death situations can place on the pilots of Area 88 involved with them as they feel their humanity eating away while committed to their bloody aerial dogfights. A few characters introduced relate their experiences of how returning to civilian life left them unsatisfied as they became too adept to the life-or-death situations that being a military pilot gave them. The series also explores some believable scenarios in battle that caught my eye and could actually happen in real life such as running out of ammo, being injured by gunfire while in the cockpit which would prove fatal in a life-or-death battle and experiencing a redout. For a mid-80s OAV title, Area 88 is quite impressive on the visual end sporting well-designed scenery and plane designs with well-animated action sequences involving said planes as they engage in ground-to-air or aerial battles.

However, Area 88's biggest thorn in its side for me is its pacing. The series tends to rush its developments at a number of points in the series which limits any depth one gains from characters and the setting of the series. Shin's friend, Satoru, proved to be quite the shallow, irredeemable jerk considering the lengths he goes through to try ridding himself of Shin and claiming power for himself in the airline company he worked under.

Area 88 proved to be quite the mixed bag for me as while I did enjoy its believable focus on the life-and-death situations faced by its pilots, the fast pacing of it greatly limits any connection one can have with its setting and characters because of their limited focus. Fans of older action anime titles may delight at the fluid battle scenes and good-looking plane designs for the series, the limited depth into its setting and characters don't leave much else to get sucked into.

Last updated Monday, February 13 2012. Created Monday, February 13 2012.
Buy Stretch [series:642#628]
After watching volume 1, I actually didn't think Area 88 would be held in much regard by anime critics, in part because of it's unusual setting and premise, and partly because it was seldom mentioned on anime websites, but when I did manage to find several reviews, I was surprised to find that the critics unanimously gave it high ratings. Having finally seen all three parts (50,57 and 96 minutes) I realise that it really does deserve all the praise. In a way, Area 88 reminds me of a more sophisticated version of "Speed Racer", in the sense that both series take an already dangerous and exciting occupation (jet fighter pilot and race car driver, respectively) and by not worrying too much about what is really plausible make them even more thrilling. Actually, in a technical sense this show is remarkably accurate--just watch Shin bring his plane in to land, employing flaps, airbrakes, variable angle wings, and retractable landing gear. If you are both an aviation and an anime otaku, you'll think you've died and gone to heaven as you recognize Crusaders, Skyhawks, Phantoms, Mig-21s--I won't list them all. Though not perfect, the air-to-air combat scenes are remarkably good for a 1985 production. Seeing planes get blown apart in mid-air up close is especially awesome. Pilots repeatedly meet horrible fates as their aircraft are torn apart--these are not just robots being destroyed, as in mecha anime. The story takes place both in Asram and back in Tokyo as Shin's girlfriend, Ryoko, resists Kazaki's advances ("I won't be in your debt--not even for a cup of coffee!") and seeks to determine what has become of her lover. Shin, meanwhile, struggles with a nagging suspicion that he may have become corrupted by war to the extent that he can never go home again ("I'm a devil, steeped in blood and forged from hatred"). His charachter develops to the point at which I couldn't help worrying about how he would wind up. I'll just say that at the end, the makers of Area 88 don't take the easy way out. Having seen some of the TV series remake, I realize that these OVAs had a sort of brilliant simplicity to them--at the end you feel as if you've just finished reading a famous novel. All in all, an unusual piece of anime, with plenty of action plus thought-provoking drama.

My favorite line: "I've never been to hell before, and I want you to be my guide!"

9/03 #61

Last updated Monday, February 04 2008. Created Saturday, September 06 2003.

Community Anime Reviews

anime mikomi org