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"This is an outstaning movie. A young pilot is romantically involved with the daughter of an airlines owner. His greedy and jealous "freind" tricks him into signing up as a mercenary fighter pilot for a middle eastern country involved in a civil war. He can't get out of the contract, punishable by death, until he registers enough kills in battle. He proves to be a highly skilled pilot, but he can't stand all the death and destruction he inflicts.The battle sequences are awesome. The young pilot bonds with fellow mercenary pilots, who come from all over the world, and there is strong character development. There is a particularly poignant story involving a Russian mercenary who is afraid of the dark.Any anime fan would enjoy Area 88. For those who prefer more realistic anime - that is without the supernatural, indestructable monsters, or way out fututistic themes - this should be at the top of the recommendation list."
Passionate and realistic
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Area 88 is a excellent film, showing the power of war, the pain and the results of how a young man is ripped from the normalacy of life, and dropped into a war zone. It shows how the guilt and pain of causing death eventually becomes normal life, how it is a dog eat dog world and if he wants to survive to go home he must become top dog, no matter what the costs"
Old School Anime At Its Best
C. Chow | Leesburg VA | 10/28/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"If you like old school anime or just good anime in general BUY THIS NOW!!!
After seeing the `New Area 88' of 2005 I expected the original `Area 88' would be just as good. But I was completely blown away. `Area 88' takes its place as one of the best anime series of all time.
The Plot: A Japanese commercial pilot Shin (Chris Patton) has everything going for him. He's in love with Ryoko, the daughter of his airline's rich president whom approves of their relationship. However he is betrayed by his best friend whom gets him drunk and signs him up for three years of service as a mercenary fighter pilot.
Shin's world is turned upside down as he is transferred to the infamous desert air base Area 88 where pilots are assigned the most impossible missions. Pilots last three missions not three years. Isolated from the rest of the world, Shin befriends the entire base hoping his leadership will lead his comrades to victory and survival. Meanwhile Ryoko struggles to find what became of her lost love.
For some reason there's been a recent backlash against old school anime. "The animation sucks." That's akin to saying `Citizen Kane' sucks because it's black and white. I happen to like old school animation because it takes you back to classic war series like `Robotech', `Gundam', and `Votoms'. `Area 88' certainly deserves to be placed in the same class as them.
What really makes `Area 88' work is its nonstop action.
If you liked or disliked the `New Area 88' you'll still enjoy the original. Although they still have the same general story there are major differences. Mainly the nonstop action. There are far more and better battles sequences. The other major difference is the shift in characters. `Area 88' is NOT burdened with annoying tokens like a child, a female, and an old timer like the new series was. The main character is Shin as we want it, NOT the wimpy war photographer.
A side note of trivia I noticed: The title Area 88 may embody a militarist theme. The phrase "88" is a mnemonic code for "Heil Hitler," H being the eighth letter in the alphabet. The date printed on Shin's enlistment document is "April 20," Hitler's birthday. "
Area 88 OVA is a Masterpiece
Peter Tilton | New York, USA | 07/17/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This anime is called Area 88 and is a 3 part anime (4 hours long). It was made in 1985 and is one of the best anime to be released outside Japan. It's one of the deepest and most emotionally moving anime to ever grace our shores. It has everything from action to drama to romance.
Apart from geting all 3 episodes on dvd for the first time. The best part of this dvd is the fact that video been remastered and looks simply stunning compared to the old dvd and vhs release by Central Park Media.
ADV have also translated all the songs and left the credits untouched for all those purists who hate when companies edit things. ADV have also provided a new english dub by the same voice actors that did the tv series.
As if to charm us more, ADV have also given us all the original Japanese extras including an interview with the original manga artist and a documentary featuring all the fighter jets featured in this anime.
Conclusion - This dvd is simply a must buy for any anime fan. This is up there with classics such as Gunbuster, Akira and Wings of Honneamise. They really don't make them like these anymore."
How Far to Paradise?
Strategos | In Space above Planet Earth | 07/17/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The 80's sure was a great decade for anime. Indeed, all things considered, it might have been the best decade for OVA (direct-to-video anime) ever. You had romance like Ah My Goddess, comedy like All Purpose Cultural Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, and then of course you've got this classic. Anime is largely by nature very anti-war, even when it's an action title, and this is perhaps best personified by this classic.
The story is an unusual one. A promising young airline pilot is set to marry daughter of Japan's biggest airline and start a magnificent career in the airline industry, when on the night of his graduation, his best friend gets him drunk and makes him sign a contract to become a mercenary jet fighter pilot in deep in the savage desert in Area 88. A pacifist and gentle soul, our hero finds this is a terrible nightmare come true, as he is forced again and again to kill people he doesn't know for a cause he cares nothing about, just to stay alive.
The story segments are solid, if a little slow moving. His "friend" tries to take over both the airline and the love that Shin should have had, and his girlfriend desperately tries to find him and bring him back. Meanwhile, on the base, and in the air, is where the real drama lies.
The opening moments of the OVA have Shin's plane shooting up tanks in the desert, and you can actually see the shells from his bullets fall through the air as he fires. Planes in this show are destroyed in seconds from bullets and missiles, and if they manage to survive a few hits, they are likely so crippled as to make survival almost impossible. This ain't no video game, the planes actually run out of bullets. There is a constant sense of danger throughout the entire series, because you have absolutely no idea who is going to survive from one mission to the next. A character may be introduced and then get killed the first time they go up in a plane in this show.
In the first half of the series there's a this double-edge sword of desperation to escape combined with resistance against what a life like this does to a person. Shin is trying desperately to hold onto his humanity, not to become a cold-blooded killer who feels nothing when someone dies. And he is desperately trying to get away. So as he closes in on his goal of paying off his contract and getting out, you can feel his incredible frustration when things don't go as he plans. The opening song "How far to Paradise" is the theme of the first episode in this AVI, and it's a fitting description of Shin's mindset. He's trying to escape from hell on Earth to go back to a peaceful life, a beautiful woman, and wonderful career that's waiting for him.
The second half of the show is partly just closing things up resolving plotlines, as Shin's nemesis finds his evil plot unraveling, Shin's girlfriend gets closer to setting him free, and the the war draws to a close as the loyalist forces Shin works for are outgunned, outmanned, and (eventually) forced to surrender. The real story though, is the subtle change that has happened to Shin. He talks like a wimpy pacifist, but somewhere along the line he stopped being afraid and stopped caring about the people he killed. The ultimate example of this is when he shoots down one of his comrades who has gone blind and is shooting everwhere in a random pattern in violent desperation. And yet Shin still refuses to accept what he has become, or rather, to embrace it. When a wingman shoots down the parachute of an ememy, he is appalled.
Some time is spent on describing the why of what has happened to the men of Area 88 to make them want to do what they do, and what it amounts to is that once these people live in an environment where their lives are in constant danger, they just can't be at home anywhere where their death isn't close at hand. And in the end Shin himself has succumb to it as well. Finally free and able to return to the life is longed for so desperately, the dramatic end of the show has him instead getting back into his aircraft to join his comrades in one last heroic and foolish battle where survival is almost impossible. But when a life of danger and death is all you have known, would it really be a mercy to let you live through it and return to the world shattered. Heavy stuff indeed.
Throughout the entire series there is some wonderful high-quality animation, music, and voice-acting. The sheer quality of the entire series is what makes it a must have for me, because I have never seen a better animation about a fighter pilot's life. The air battles are incredibly exciting, and friend and foe alike are always just a hair-breath away from destruction (no invincible heroes here!). Everything moves are high speed with style, and the large variety of aircraft are all meticulously detailed, not just exploding, but breaking up, falling apart, smoking, catching on fire, ect ect. Pilots are killed by bullets going through their cockpits, entire instrument panels are recreated in loving detail, and airplane parts move and adjust in realistic manner. Very impressive indeed. It's this level of detail that sets this show apart. And the two best (and craziest) action scenes, one in each episode, are better for the fact that the danger feels all-too-real. One involves an airbase attack where a giant steel wall lifts up right in front of the planes (and they have to fly through the holes in it), and the second navigating an incredibly narrow canyon wall at high speed in the middle of the night. But the all the flight scenes are great, the other standouts being the time Shin and his wingman have to shoot bombs off a jumbo jet without damaging it, and the final battle against the rebel Air Force.
If you love classic anime (and particularly classic OVA), or just want to watch a great show about a stoic fighter pilot's struggle to survive on the far side of the desert wasteland, this show is a must own. "