18 user 13 critic

The Fighter Pilot (2013)

Eien no 0 (original title)
A young woman and her brother explore the history of their grandfather, who died in the WW2. They start contacting the men who flew with him, asking them about who he was.


Takashi Yamazaki


Takashi Yamazaki (screenplay), Tamio Hayashi (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
10 wins & 4 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview, first billed only:
Jun'ichi Okada ... Miyabe
Haruma Miura ... Kentarô Saeki
Mao Inoue Mao Inoue ... Matsuno
Gaku Hamada ... Isaki
Hirofumi Arai ... Kageura
Shôta Sometani ... Oishi
Takahiro Miura ... Takeda
Tatsuya Ueda Tatsuya Ueda ... Koyama
Ken Aoki Ken Aoki ... Ito
Rakuto Tochihara Rakuto Tochihara ... Teranishi
Ippei Sasaki Ippei Sasaki
Yûya Endô Yûya Endô ... Kagawa
Takehiro Hira
Tarô Suruga Tarô Suruga
Toshihiro Yashiba Toshihiro Yashiba


26 year old Kentaro discovers his biological grandfather died as a kamikaze pilot during WW2. He and his sister begin an investigation into what kind of person he was, interviewing men who fought with him. There follows the story of Japanese Navy Air Service Platoon Sergeant Miyabe, as told by four of the men who knew him best. Intricately woven the film follows him through Pearl Harbor, the Midway Battle and the Battle for Okinawa. When he finally loses his will and respect for life he enrolls in the Special Attack Force and passes his responsibility to return to his wife and infant daughter on to a younger pilot. An engaging tale of a man brave enough to challenge accepted ways of thinking. Written by kwedgwood@hotmail.com

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The Eternal Zero. Their hope for the future. See more »


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Did You Know?


Hayao Miyazaki, who criticized the film for "trying to make a Zero fighter story based on a fictional war account that is a pack of lies" had months before released The Wind Rises (2013), a film about the designer of the same aircraft depicted in this film. See more »


The correct title is The Eternal Zero not The Fighter Pilot. See more »


US Navy Lookout: It's a Zero!
See more »


Version of The Eternal Zero (2015) See more »


Written by Keisuke Kuwata
Performed by 'Sazan Ôru Sutâzu'
Courtesy of Taishita Label Music/Victor Entertainment
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User Reviews

A sympathetic look at suicide bombers...no wait, come back...
29 July 2015 | by ExpendableManSee all my reviews

Despite being one of the better films hiding among the titles on Netflix, 'The Eternal Zero' doesn't seem to have attracted much attention in the west. Given that it's a film that casts a sympathetic look at Japan's kamikaze pilots though that's not exactly surprising. It's already been subject to a wealth of controversy by critics in Japan and abroad, especially as there's one pivotal scene that compares them (favourably) to modern day suicide bombers.

This is a shame because at it's heart, 'The Eternal Zero' is a defiantly anti-war movie and a genuinely moving one. Beginning at a funeral, it focuses on siblings Kentaro and Keiko Oishi and their quest to find out more about the Grandfather they never knew. They soon discover that their relative Kyuzo Miyabe was a fighter pilot that died in a kamikaze attack on an aircraft carrier but throughout the war, he was almost universally hated by his fellow pilots. They meet with several veterans who all accuse Miyabe of cowardice for avoiding combat at any cost and after being shouted at by several angry old men, are understandably keen to throw in the towel. Then they decide to go for one last interview and things start to get more complex.

From there, the film unfolds Citizen Kane-style through interviews and flashbacks. It turns out Oishi was in truth a brilliant pilot, but one who also desperately wanted to live and return home to his wife. This made him thoroughly unpopular in a culture which at the time venerated the honourable sacrifice, but it also makes him something of a cypher character. Nobody in their right mind would want to smash themselves into a warship in a burning jet plane after all, so how does someone come to be persuaded to do that? And could it happen to any of us or was it something that only Imperial Japan could convince it's people to do?

What follows is a moving story of courage disguised as cowardice and a man who firmly believed in life at all cost rather than pointless deaths. There's a few brilliant scenes where characters juggle certain death against uncertain life, not least where Oishi convinces a fellow pilot not to turn back for a suicide run, only to wind up suffering an even worse fate because of it.

On a technical level too the film does a great job in recreating aerial combat through CGI (a practical necessity given the lack of functioning Zeros nowadays). The focus isn't on the combat though and anyone expecting constant dogfights will be disappointed. The Battle of Midway scene for example ends all too soon and often, we see the aftermath of battle rather than the battle itself. It makes up for it though in the human drama and when Oishi finds himself flying escort to his own students and has to watch them squander their lives pointlessly, it's both visually impressive and moving.

Anyone who still harbours resentment for the Japanese and their actions during WW2 however will still hate this movie. There's no mention of the atrocities of Nanking or the mistreatment of POWs for example, but then they're not the focus of the film. This is about impressionable young men being brainwashed into throwing their lives away and their ancestors struggling to come to terms with it. In that sense, Kentaro and Keiko are representative of modern Japan itself; they don't have to approve of their own history in order to sympathise with it. This is a great film, but it'll provoke a heated argument or two, a fact which it foreshadows in a night out that goes disastrously wrong.

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Release Date:

21 December 2013 (Japan) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fighter Pilot See more »

Filming Locations:

Kagoshima, Japan See more »


Box Office

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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