The Cockpit is a collection of three different stories of World War II. German pilot, about a motorcycle driver, and another about a boy who has to fly a rocket into the heart of a ship. Three tales of self sacrifice, honor and courage, all directed by three different directors.
The Cockpit is introspective war drama, told from the Axis perspective in WWII. This anime is probably too serious in tone when telling harrowing stories of self sacrifice. It might be a good title to pick up for those wanting variety in their anime diet, but keep in mind that it gets fairly depressing.
Slipstream - The fate of German pilots became something I wondered about over the years. Both WWI and WWII went the same way for the Luftwaffe. Initially superior, as the industrial capacity of Germany lessoned, aircraft fell behind in technology. Even if superior in skill by a matter of raw experience, going up in the skies meant eventually not coming back due to a simple matter of numerical advantages of the allies. I wondered what those pilots thought as they continued to take off day after day. I think Slipstream captures some of that sentiment, which I enjoyed.
The moral dilemma of Germans with the atom bomb can be taken a few ways, but may be a turn off if interpreted as preaching with moral superiority. I didn't take it that way, but I know others have. From an aerial combat perspective, this one is probably unmatched in anime.
Sonic Boom Squadron - This is interesting from the perspective of a Ohka kamakaze pilot. An Ohka is something like a manned rocket launched from underneath a bomber in flight. The pilot fails in his first attempt as the bomber is shot down before he can attack. This one is very introspective concerning the mentality of the kamakaze pilot, but also the attitudes of others who believe in what he does, and are even willing to sacrifice themselves so that he can accomplish his mission. In order to "get" this one, requires thinking from a traditional Japanese perspective - something I'm not sure most can do.
Knight of the Iron Dragon - Two soldiers on a motorcycle trying to reach an airbase. It's the typical war dialog highlighted by enemy attacks and so forth. It lost me early on, so I don't have much to say on this one.
The source material is by Leiji Matsumoto of Captain Harlock fame. Character designs are his usual catalog, but look good. The designs and animation for period machines is probably the best feature. The Cockpit is introspective, and philosophical about war. In some respects I felt it was speaking down to me from a morally superior pedestal. But the main detractor is simply a matter of me finding it depressing.
A good watch for war drama, but probably too heavy for what most anime fans normally want. Due to its topic, it's the kind of anime you'd have to be in the mood to watch.
Airman: Being alive is reason enough to drink.
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reviewed by archen in 2001