Some of the most interesting animation to come out of Japan in the last
couple of years has been produced by Gonzo Digimation. This was the
team responsible for Blue Submarine No. 6 which was released here
a few years ago, and Last Exile, the first volume of which has just
come out. Their newest animation, Yukikaze, continues to utilize
more standard animation techniques and CGI effects while blending the two
Over 30 years ago, an alien race, the Jemm, attacked the earth.
They created a portal over Antarctica from where they launched their invasion.
The United Forces of Earth fought back with high tech fighter planes.
One of those planes, the Yukikaze, is a very fast high altitude jet piloted
by Rei Fukai. Rei's job is to monitor and photograph aerial battles,
but not to take part in them. The tapes he makes are presumably used
to analyze the enemy's tactics. While returning from a mission, Rei
encounters an unidentified plane that is exactly like his. He can
not make radio contact. Something strange happens to Yukikaze's on
board computer, as if someone was trying to hack into it. The radar
display identifies the unknown plane as a hostile, and Rei, following Yukikaze's
advice rather than the evidence of his eyes, shoots it down. No wreckage
Since the plane was never identified, Rei is grounded while an investigation
is carried out. This causes him to brood and become depressed.
He talks about how Yukikaze is the only one he can trust, and how much
the plane means to him. Soon he's flying again, and the plane seems
to share a bond with Rei. It gives him advice during fights and control
keeps flipping back between the computer and Rei. But when the Yukikaze
is fitted with a system that allows it to fly without a pilot, Rei goes
almost catatonic, and Yukikaze, in a break from it's programming, fires
upon some United Forces planes that it has identifies as the Jemm.
Have the Jemm succeeded in infiltrating the Earth forces, or has the plane
This DVD contains the first two episodes in a five part OVA series.
The animation is absolutely stunning. From the air rippling in the
heat of a jet's exhaust, to a missile's vapor trail, every detail has been
carefully animated. The CGI effects are meshed perfectly with the
traditional animation to create an amazing world. The futuristic
plane designs are dazzling, as are the battle scenes.
If the show has a fault, it is that the plot is a little confusing.
They play with non-linear story telling, so I'm not sure when the saga
takes place. At the beginning of the show it is stated that the Jemm
attacked and were repelled 33 years ago. Then it cuts to a battle
scene. Is this taking place in the past or present? I'm also
not sure if Yukikaze is supposed to have an artificial intelligence on
board, or if it's computer somehow gained sentience. Events like
these make the show somewhat hard to follow.
Another point of contention I have is that there are only two episodes
on this DVD. The first one runs 45 minutes, and the second one 30.
With a retail price of $30, I was expecting more than 1 ¼ hours
worth of episodes. While I realize that OVAs, and animation in general,
cost more in Japan than in the US, this is still a lot to pay.
You can listen to this show in the original Japanese, or with an English
dub. Both languages come with a stereo or 5.1 mix. There are
The five channel mix is excellent. One of the best I've heard.
Missiles launch from behind you and zoom to the front of the room.
Planes swoosh from left to right engulfing you in sound. But the
best part is that the audio doesn't collapse to a mono or stereo track
when there is not a lot of action going on. The full soundstage is
used throughout the show. A very impressive mix that is reference
quality. A great disc to show off your sound system.
The video, as mentioned in the body of the review, is exceptional.
The lines are crisp and clear, and there is no aliasing, which plagues
a lot of animation. There is an interesting color pallet used, mostly
greens and grays. Dark colors. A lot of the scenes are realistically
dark, but it does make details a little hard to discern. The dark
palate does make it all the more impressive when the brightly lit
flame from the back of a missile zooms onto the screen. A really
nice looking DVD.
This disc has a very good set of extras.
Yukikaze Making Report: A
half hour behind the scenes documentary. There is no narration (or
English dub, though there are subtitles) to this. Just a series of
clips of the creators at work. It starts out with the director and
animators taking a tour of an air base. They ask a lot of questions
and the director ends up taking a short ride in a jet. Next there
are shots of the animators working at their computers, and talking about
the animation. They show the voice actors dubbing their lines, and
it contains a short interview with some of the cast. The last segment,
and the most interesting, is with the writer who originally penned the
story over 20 years ago. This whole report didn't really excite me.
The lack of narration to tie the scenes together gave this extra a haphazard
feel. Like they threw some footage together and slapped it on the
Mission Briefing: A text piece
on the background to the show. This does flesh out the show a little,
but I feel that a successful show shouldn't have to explain things in a
Glossary: A rather complete
glossary of terms and acronyms used in the show.
Technical Data Files: Another
text piece that gives technical data about the Yukikaze. I wasn't
really wondering what the width was or what type of engine it had, but
if those questions ever bother me, now I know where I can find the answers.
Trailers: Witch Hunter
Robin, Infinite Ryvius, and S-Cry-Ed.
Even with the slightly bewildering plot and the short running time,
this show is very good. The story is intriguing and the animation
excellent. The sound on this disc is absolutely top notch.
Gonzo fans should run out and get this. Recommended.