Cockpit, The

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"The Cockpit" is a collection of three shorts from 1993 based on Leiji Matsumoto’s "Battlefield" manga. The first segment, "Slipstream", is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri (Director of "Wicked City", "Ninja Scroll", "Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust", etc.). The second segment, "Sonic Boom Squadron", is directed by Takashi Imanishi (Director of many "Gundam" projects, "S.P.T. Layzner" episodes, "City Hunter: Bay City Wars", and the "A.T. Votoms" OVAs). The third and final segment, "Knight of the Iron Dragon", is directed by Ryousuke Takahashi (Original Creator of "A.T. Votoms", "S.P.T. Layzner", "Blue Gender", "Gasaraki", and "Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto").

Highly skilled, but burned-out, Nazi German Luftwaffe Ace pilot, Lt. Erhardt von Rheindars (a man who mourns for the days when men flew, fought, and died with honor, a time before unmanned rocket powered missiles) has been given a secret mission: to escort and protect a bomber loaded with unknown passengers and cargo. To accomplish his task, he has been given an experimental new Focke-Wulf. “Now the German air force can finally join the ranks of great aviation accomplishments, like the Japanese Zero” (no offense to the Zero, but that’s kinda like comparing a Mercedes-Benz with a Mitsubishi and coming to the conclusion that they’re equal).
Before leaving on his mission, he finds out that the individuals he will be protecting are Marlena (his pre-wartime love), and her scientist father. He meets with Marlena and learns that the bomber is carrying the world’s first Atomic Bomb! These two lovers from the "master race" come to the conclusion that those who first use the A-Bomb “…will be remembered as the worst mass murderers in history” (Whose history, I wonder? Guess those Forced Labor and Concentration Camps kinda slipped their minds.). Übermann von Rheindars must choose what is most important, his military duty, his love, or the integrity of his people and his dying way of life.

Sonic Boom Squadron:
Teenage Ensign Nogami is a Kamikaze pilot. He had the potential and drive to work in the aviation field, but because of war, he will now never be able to realize his childhood dream. Though he knows his ultimate sacrifice will serve no great victory, he is bound by honor, and a dedication to serve his motherland, just as his comrades are. And just as the man who created the Ohka (Kamikaze Plane) was, when he created a human missile to kill both pilot and adversary. (However, to the idea of the great unified, ultra-nationalistic Japan of the Shôwa period, all I have to say is… February 26, 1936.)

Knight of the Iron Dragon:
My favorite of the Cockpit stories: Buddy-buddy older man to younger man interactions, ending in one man’s heroic, personal sacrifice for another. It is ultimately pointless and futile in the face of war, yet at the same time, strangely fulfilling.

It’s Japanese WWII sentimental entertainment like this (and "Pride", a 1998 hagiographic Toei Film on Gen. Tojo) that leads Westerners (and Chinese, Koreans, etc.) to ask: What is its Pop media saying about the Modern Japanese viewpoint of their role in WWII? Still, these shorts excellently depict the terrible waste inherent in all wars, and "Slipstream" is beautiful to look at, "Sonic Boom Squadron" is fatalistically wistful and well done, and "Knight of the Iron Dragon" is poignant and moving.

 The Cockpit
Slipstream 01

 The Cockpit
Sonic Boom Squadron 01

 The Cockpit
Slipstream 02

 The Cockpit
Sonic Boom Squadron 02
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Curator: guyvariii
Gallery Created: 1/21/2004

Presentation 8.65/10   Collection 9.12/10   Overall 8.70/10   Votes 65 votes
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