Right off the top, this is not an action/anime/bloodfest, so if that’s what you were hoping for, then you are barking up the wrong tree. This is a “thinking man’s” anime about war and peace and the expendable youth that takes part in it. I was actually pretty blown away by how deep a “cartoon” could be, but that’s maybe because the only anime I typically watch involves vampires getting chopped to bits or non-stop gunfights with an unstoppable hitman or awkward animated nudity, haven’t really found much depth before. But that’s what happens when you wander into Mamoru Oshii’s territory. He shows with this film that he is not afraid to tell a story and let it breath, the action is there too, but highly secondary. Continued after the jump:
The film is about a group of young people called “Kildren,” genetically-engineered fighter pilots that are pawns in a war between two ruthless companies for eternity that serve more as entertainment for the peaceful nations that watch. “Kildren” don’t age, they stay young until they die in battle and the metaphor for real-world war is pretty clear. Their whole purpose is they live to fight in these vicious dogfight battles in the sky, but the real underbelly of the film comes from the characters as they begin to realize how to enjoy their lives despite their inescapable fate.
The whole premise of adults organizing and controlling a war that is acted out by ageless youths sounds a bit overt, but the film manages to dance with this theme with subtlety. Dissecting war and the players involved and their inevitable death sounds like a bummer too, but the fact that they find hope and love and friendship amongst these seemingly insurmountable odds gives the film a very hopeful look at our world, even when we are at our worst. The film also doesn’t focus on or accent the violence, even the action scenes stray away from gratuitous bloodshed or gore. The main focus of the story is the “Kildren” and their ability to come to terms with their fate. And even though the film isn’t action heavy, it’s not the least bit boring. I found myself entertained the whole way through and at times my mind was somewhat blown apart by the parallels to the way our countries wage war and the media fan fare that comes with it.
This film gives the viewer a lot to think about and when the action does come up it’s beautiful. The dogfights in the sky look real and exhibit some of the most fluid animation I have ever seen. And in Blu-ray the action looks even more kick ass!! It’s more like an aerial acrobatic ballet than a dogfight. I really enjoyed this film and thinks it deserves to be seen because it bothers to tell a story and not dumby things down (like every action movie that’s came out this summer). Highly recommended.
Animation Research- showing research for the dogfights and how they made it look so amazing.
The Sound Design and Animation of The Skycrawlers- short little behind the scenes