Airbats, 801 T.T.S.
“Japan Air Self Defense Force 801 Tactical Training Squadron: Airbats”, or “Aozora Shoujo-tai” (Blue Skies Girls’ Squadron) is a seven episode OVA series released from 1994 through 1996. It was directed in part by Yuji Moriyama ( Animation Director, “Wings Of Honneamise”; Director, “Project A-Ko”, parts 2, 3, and 4; Episode Director, “Trigun” ).
Airplane mechanic, and military, monster, model, and anime nerd, Lt. Takuya Isurugi has been newly transferred into the Air Self-Defense Force’s 801st Tactical Training Squadron. The all female pilot aerobatics team, nicknamed Airbats, is an Air Force PR stunt. Considered a worthless joke by the entire JASDF, the squad has become a dumping ground for under-achievers, good-for-nothings, misfits, and trouble-makers.
While the 801st ’s Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Kouji Kengamine, does everything in his power to try to disband and demolish the team through endless piloting exams; newbie, nebbish Isurugi stumbles into the rivalry between the team’s top pilots, Sgt. Miyuki Hanada and Sgt. Arisa Mitaka, and becomes the latest thing to compete over. Good natured, muscle-bound Capt. Mitsuru Konishi keeps up a running commentary on the in-fighting between his pilots, as his second in command, Sakura Saginomiya, places bets on what terrible mishap will happen next. And, throughout it all, the untalented, impervious dingbat Sgt. Yoko Shimorenjaku sails along, accompanied by her cheeky, observant, blood sucking pet bat, “Chi-chan”. Will our gaggle of goofballs prove themselves worthy of “combat” status?
“… one of you will be my girlfriend and the other … my mistress!”
Despite being a show about a passive, feeble, insipid, get-along guy who has two women fighting over him, “Airbats’” quirky characters manage to be often funny and endearing, and its mechanical designs are pretty dang slick. The misanthropic, vituperative animosity between the two female leads, and the ass-kissing, self-loathing behavior of Kengamine, even makes some sense, when you consider that they’re talented pilots who’ve been downgraded to sideshow hacks and left to stew. I enjoyed “Airbats”… however, it’s no “Patlabor”; this is plainly the type of pick your flavor, Girls with Planes show that would later devolve into the extreme sexist-objectification, under-developed stock character Girls as Planes shows of the new millennium.