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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