So stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s this alternate future where all of the nations of the world have found peace but to keep entertaining the population they hire large corporations to train and equip kids with fighter planes and have them kill each other. Sound like fun? Well it’s a good mid-season replacement for the Hunger Games.
This break down is the back-story to the anime feature film The Sky Crawlers. The movie is based upon a series of books by Hiroshi Mori and done by Production I.G. with 3D animation done by Polygon Pictures.
The plot revolves a group of pilots from the Rostock Corporation, one of the conglomerates that entertain the masses in this plot. The main character Yuichi Kannami is the newest team member; he’s brought to the team after their team lost three pilots in combat. Or were they?
Kannami tries to find out what happened to his predecessors but doesn’t get much of a straight answer. He’s only told that the enemy ace “The Teacher” shot them down.
The rest of the film follows the fight between the two groups and Kannami’s attempts to find out the truth about the dead pilots and who the “teacher” is.
While the trailer (see below) might make this movie look like an action movie, it isn’t. There are some action scene’s however most of the movie is characters talking. While I wasn’t expecting “Danger Zone” playing in the background as Kannami asks someone to be his wingman, but the English trailer does make it look like something it isn’t. In fact the add sounds like every anime add from the 90s.
The first thing that hit’s me during this movie is just how dry this show is. While the animation done by Production I.G. looks nice, the dialogue is very boring and drawn out with these odd pauses in conversation.
While I first thought that it was a problem with the dub, I think it has more to do with the director Mamoru Oshii. Oshii is famous for the Ghost in the Shell series as well as the Kerberos Panzer Cop saga. Oshii seems to favor long pauses for some reason and it really pulled me out of the movie at times.
The animation, as I mentioned before, is good as the characters have a distinctive look to them. The 3D animation doesn’t stick out too much from the rest of the work as some other animated films suffer from at times.
Despite the nice visuals, the plot is where I’m left scratching my head. While there is a very interesting back drop to the story, the movie doesn’t seem all that interested in telling us about it.
I’m a fan of sci fi and the idea of large business fighting each other to entertain people is quite interesting. At one point in the film the characters are in a dinner and the people who work at their display the teams colours like a bar would a hockey jersey. They have this rich world but the story falls into old cliché’s namely the love story.
However, it’s not like the film needed to follow the story, as one of the biggest anime films of all time, Akira, did a very similar thing.
Akira condensed a huge story into about two hours and left so much out that certain plot points are brought up and never spoken about ever again (i.e. how come the main characters have no idea how Akira is but there’s a religion that is devoted to him?). Despite this Akira is known as one of the greatest anime’s of all time. Sky Crawlers however, won’t have that privilege.
With its lack of interest in exploring major plot points really makes it difficult for me to recommend this movie to people. If you’re a fan of Oshii’s work, or the books then you’ll see this film. If you’re trying to get into anime, this isn’t for you.
The Sky Crawlers is distributed internationally by Sony Entertainment and is fairly easy to find.