Area 88

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“Area 88” is a three volume OVA, released from 1985 through 1986, based on a manga/comic by longtime Leiji Matsumoto associate, Kaoru Shintani (I have original manga pages of his “Futari Daka/Twin Hawks” here). The story was also later made into a TV series in 2004.

Shin Kazama, a young, talented, up and coming commercial airline pilot, is betrayed by his best friend, Satoru Kanzaki. Jealous of both Kazama’s piloting skill and his romantic relationship with the company president’s daughter, Ryoko Tsugumo, Kanzaki tricks Shin into signing a three year, binding contract with Aslan’s (a fictitious Middle-Eastern country) military. Stuck in the middle of Aslan’s civil war, Shin finds himself in the country’s aerial foreign legion, suppressing the advancing, well-armed rebels. Aslan’s corps of mercenaries attracts ex-soldiers -- fighter pilots who have killed too much, or for too long. Cast off from society, they wind up gathering at the bullet-riddled desert airbase, Area 88.

While shooting down enemy planes, trying to survive, and hoping, through mission bonuses, to acquire his contract’s buyout price of $1.5 million dollars, Kazama witnesses the sad, inevitable fates of those who have been tainted with the smell of gunpowder and the stigma of death; as he fights his own losing, internal battle to keep the carefree innocence he once knew.

“How far to paradise? How far back to my home?”

Featuring super realistic plane designs, and heart pounding aerial battle sequences, this is an affectingly rendered, depressing, macho tale. Not surprisingly, Shin’s doomed destiny is foreshadowed in the ruined lives of his comrades. Ultimately, Kazama will no longer belong where he longs to return.

 Area 88 01

 Area 88 02

 Area 88 03

 Area 88 04
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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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