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This anthology tells the aviation related stories of three troopers on the Axis side of World War II. The first one is of a disgraced German fighter pilot who is assigned to escort a bomber carrying his love and a fearsome secret cargo. The second story is of a Japanese kamikaze pilot of a guided rocket bomb who, denied his chance in a failed attack in which he survived, is determined to complete his mission despite the odds. Finally, two soldiers attempt to reach an air base to fulfill a promise despite the fact that it might have been rendered moot in the reality of war. Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Each of the three short films (each an adaptation from a short story in Matsumoto Leiji's manga "The Cockpit") shares a common theme: self-sacrifice for the sake of others. Each protagonist faces challenges and reconciles their personal decision to give up their lives (or in one case, personal honor) for the sake of what they believe to be right. Each individual film highlights an aspect of the tragedy of war by focusing tightly on the personal experiences of those involved.
While most historical fiction vilifies the 'enemy' to the point of becoming propaganda, some of "The Cockpit"'s most poignant moments are when the antagonists reflect on the actions of their enemy--seeing in them the same human emotions and desires as themselves.
The first segment of the film deserves some recognition in that it strongly implies criticism of the United States for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki--something almost unheard of in Japanese-created animation or film. The second and third segments are far less heavy-handed in their message, but they all tell stories that do more than romanticize the past.
Of particular note is the attention to detail paid to the machinery of the films. Matsumoto's known for his love of machines and that love carries over to stunningly accurate imagery of WWII era vehicles and equipment.
For history buffs or anime freaks, this particular series of short films has a lot to offer--both in terms of story and in the topics the narrative approaches.
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