Posted by psgels on 31 December 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews


I must applaud The Cockpit for actually taking place during World War II. It’s the same here in The Netherlands: there are lots of novels and stories about our Golden Age in the seventeenth century, there are lots of stories about World War II, where we were basically the victims of the Third Reich, but you’ll never hear anything about what we did in Indonesia, where we were the bastards. The same goes for anime: there are quite a lot of series about the Japanese ages of glory, the time of the samurais. And there are very few anime about the Second World War, where the Japanese were the bastards. If only for that, this series deserves credit.

Apart from this, The Cockpit is a collection of stories about three people, fighting for Japan in the war. Slipstream is a beautiful tale about a war-veteran and a certain mission he accepts. It may not be historically accurate at times, but its message is wonderful and makes a lot of impact. It’s also got a subtle feeling of loneliness that doesn’t feel out of place in a Makoto Shinkai-movie, and it’s the definite highlight of The Cockpit for me.

Sonic Boom Squadron then comes and tackles a taboo in anime: suicide bombers. We get to look into the mind of one of them, and the ones who will accompany him in his final moments, and it works. While I would have liked to see a bit more about his background, the guy shows us something different from the stereotype that surrounded the suicide-bombers. The ending is also a great one, held back from being underdeveloped and coming from rather nowhere.

Knight of the Iron Dragon is a disappointing finale, though. It doesn’t take itself serious enough, and the themes have been overplayed a bit too much, with a low-ranked war-veteran taking care of a rookie. It has the potential, but the execution just fails.

I must admit that I didn’t think much of the Matsumoto Leiji-universe up till now, but that’s probably because the only thing I had seen from the guy was Gun Frontier, which was just bad. With The Cockpit, though I begin to see the guy’s talent: realistic war-settings about thought-provoking heroes. If his other works are more similar to The Cockpit than to Gun Frontier, then I’m willing to check out more of it somewhere in the future.

2 Responses

  1. totoum says:

    lol I didn’t even need to read anything to know it was done by Matsumoto Leiji,I just looked at the screenshots,the chara designs just gave it away.

    Anyway I grew up watching captain Harlock,havn’t seen it in years,definatly entertained me as a kid but i have no idea what i would think of it now.

  2. Kurisu says:

    Saying the Japanese in here are the “bastards” because they are “suicide bombers” is rather ridiculous. If one side has the upper-hand in terms of technology and quantity, it’s only possible to beat them with determination. Killing hundred thousands of people from secure distance by pushing some buttons is far more inhumane then paying with your own life.

    “Sonic Boom Squadron” isn’t single-sided anyway. It’s not trying to point fingers. It just shows the madness of war on both sides. Though it certainly focuses on the Japanese side.
    It is self-critical but not in the sense that they are merciless soldiers. Rather lives are thrown away for little gain in the name of “honour” or whatever was driving those generals back then. If anything, you could even blame them for making the kamikaze soldiers look too good and too humane. That would be missing the point though because it’s not about idolizing suicide attacks.

    Many people also committed suicide after the war was over because they were scared to death of the US soldiers because of the propaganda spread to keep the public pro-war. In reality, it were the Japanese soldiers who committed horrible crimes in China. Putting nukes on Nagasaki and Hiroshima aside, of course. At least that what history books tell today and the Japanese seem awfully ignorant of these facts. Anime isn’t an exception.

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  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 11:01 PM)
    @Emma: Birdman and Synecdoche have a lot of thematic elements in common, and given that Synecdoche was released in 08 makes me realize that Alejandro González borrowed quite a bit from it; although in the end they are different enough to justify Birdman’s existence. Where Synecdiche was a better written movie, I feel that Birdman was the better directed one.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:15 PM)
    And I’d go as far to say this beats out birdman for me by miles.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    The film is a solid mood piece thanks to the in tone cinematography, a great performance from Hoffman that along with his characters drama makes for an emotionally investing film. And before it gets TOO sad theres all those bits of dark humour fitted in there that work out pretty well. This is probably my favourite work by Kaufman currently.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 04:14 PM)
    Well Bam, I had a go of synecdoche there. A bit of a slow burner, near the end slightly drawn out, however that last stretch was forgiven by that bonkers ending.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:23 PM)
    The voice of the main character got kind of annoying though, the dub wasn’t all that good either.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:22 PM)
    This was based on/was a homage to a series by the Gigantor creator and having grown up with gigantors 90s reboot this felt like a nice throwback, plot is fairly simple but used effectively. It’s a shame that it feels like there was more to tell but at seven episodes I suppose it avoids outstaying its welcome.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 01:20 PM)
    Decided to marathon Giant Robo, I think this was mentioned by someone on here before. I guess it was fairly entertaining, great action direction, looked good for its time, you don’t notice the hour long episodes go by, adequate characters, nice retro artstyle also, not sure if I got excited over this as big O and Mazinger however but still fun enough nonetheless.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:10 AM)
    Seeing Hoffman in before the devil knows your dead and his character being dependent on drugs, that was another thing that hit me a bit knowing the circumstances of his death. Watching most wanted man I could also see that he was wearing out physically.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 07:00 AM)
    This is not Anno bitching about otakus jacking off to his characters and turning around and selling Rei panties, this isn’t the idiots at Shaft throwing around meaningless camera angles and the oh-so-symbolic teeth brushing scenes, this is a human being looking you in the eye with fear and telling you that he’s dying; morbid, honest, moving and remarkable.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Jan 31. 2015 06:55 AM)
    Given my rants regarding Birdman it should be clear that I’m a sucker for these rare instances where the line between movie and reality get blurred- when an actor looks at a camera and just bares their heart out. This is the realism that reality tv tried but could never capture. this is art in one of its most sincere forms.

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