Area 88


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For those of you who may like Japanese manga/anime and flying, I definitely recommend checking out Area 88, an anime equivalent to Top Gun. I had been reading comics for some time and stumbled over the Area 88 manga in the 1980’s. Amazed by the attention to detail in the drawings, I was hooked. When I found the Original Video Animation (OAV) and 12 episode series on DVD, I had to pick them up as well.

An excellent summary of the plot and various differences beween the manga, OAV and the series can be found at the Area 88 article on Wikipedia . As mentioned, the attention to detail is excellent, the story is entertaining and the music in the 12 episode series really helps bring it together. There is enough difference between plot lines & scenes in the manga (comic), the OVA and the series to make it worth collecting all three.

If I let my “picky aviation geek” side come out (the same “picky aviation geek” that gets me in trouble when I watch Die Hard 2 with friends :), I can find any number of issues that I can point out within Area 88:

  • There are a number of different aircraft types at the base so maintenance & spares must be a nightmare
  • The series introduces a “poor kid” pilot who flies a Harrier but he flies it like any other aircraft and doesn’t make effective use of it’s ability to VIFF. This is slightly balanced in the OAV because the Harriers are on the enemy side and the mercenaries have to adjust their tactics to deal with their viffing.
  • The base’s airstrip has “A 88” at each end where usually there would be the runway number (eg: 03, 31, 27, etc). Sure, it’s the base’s code (Area 88) and it could be there, but really, no.

There are a number of other issues that lead to a slight cringe factor at times, but on the whole there are none that make me give up in disgust. Fortunately the story, music and well drawn aircraft keep me hooked and make it easier to ignore the niggling bits.

It’s definitely worth reading/watching just for the pure enjoyment factor. Not perfect, but good enough to own and watch/read every now and then.

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2 Responses to Area 88

  1. GC says:

    I’ve been a closet anime and manga junkie since the early 1980’s. It all started with shows like Battle of the Planets, Astro Boy, and others that were definitely geared towards kids. As I grew, my interest grew into the more involved storylines that came out of Japan.

    Area 88 is one of my all-time favorite manga. To this day, I’ve still got my entire collection of the Eclipse Comics adaptation of the story. Sure, it takes a little bit of poetic license in places, but all-in-all, it is a thoroughly enjoyable story with well-developed characters.

    Good stuff!

  2. Falcon124 says:

    I was so sad when the manga series stopped just as the prince arrived with a B1 bomber… :(

    One annoyance from the whole series (drawn & video) was that Shin does all this awesome flying & shooting with one eye covered by his hair – classic & impossible, but very much the look of that time :)

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