Area 88 Vol. 1: Treacherous Skies
Emru Townsend · From fps #3 · July 1, 2005 | Many years ago, my preferred way of exposing people to anime was surprise. I'd just play something eye-popping where people weren't expecting it. For example, one evening I popped a bootleg tape of the mid-'80s OAV Area 88 into the VCR just before an animation history class. It was the opening of the third part of the trilogy, in which two squadrons of fighter planes battle at dawn over the desert. It's a vicious dogfight, with planes and pilots being ripped to shreds by bullets and missiles. A classmate, sitting dumbstruck near the front row, only managed a few words about the scene's brutality:

Area 88 Vol. 1
Directed by Isamu Imakake
ADV Films, 2005
Originally aired in 2004
75 minutes

Shop for Area 88 Vol. 1 DVDs and more:
"This is horrible."

She was partly right. The source of it all, the Area 88 manga, thrived in the meeting point between tragedy, horror and beauty. The tragedy is that of its main character, Shin Kazama, a skilled commercial pilot betrayed by his best friend and forced to become part of a North African mercenary air force. The horror is that of war. And the beauty is in the aesthetic properties of the instruments of war, as well as the graceful but deadly ways in which they are used.

So the recent Area 88 television series, now brought to DVD, had a lot to live up to.

Want to read the rest of this review?

You'll find it and many other articles in the July 2005 issue of fps, available as a free download.
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