On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me. Oh wait, I already did that opening. Well for day 8 in the 12 Days of Anime I’m going to celebrate Area 88 (OVA) by Studio Pierrot. Considering yesterday post went into spoiler territory I can see why some would want to skip this post over. Rest assure there won’t be any spoilers since Area 88 is also something I highly recommend any anime fan to watch. So here’s even more on why I like it so much.
War stories are difficult for me to engage with on a personal level. From all the war movies I’ve seen which is probably around 30 only one of them connected with me. It wasn’t Saving Private Ryan, but a 2004 Korean war movie called Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War. It did the usual of establishing why the country was at war, and of course the character building moments one would expect from these kind of movies. What helped it rise above the standard war movie was the focus on two brothers. Their personal conflict never took a back sit to the war itself, and instead used the war to escalate it. Through the course of the movie the brothers drifted apart resulting in a far more effective way to depict how war divides people through these brothers conflict.
Both Area 88, and Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War are the only times I ever cared about any character fictional, or not in a war story. They didn’t feel like puppets to deliver yet another anti-war message. Area 88 was more about showing the results of it on any ordinary person. Showing the progression of someone who values life can become at peace taking human life. War stories aren’t no strangers to these kind of things. Same with having a leading character killing out of survival, having the comrades talk about what they plan to do after the war, the dread of helplessness encroaching on them, and deliver a message.
Area 88, and Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War won’t do things uncommon for these kind of stories. What they do correctly is tell a story that feels complete. Too many times do I feel the backdrop, and the fact it’s an actual event take precedent in these stories. Being design to have no goal in sight other than just make you think. When the dozen of war movies I’ve seen end I don’t have a sense of closure from them. So while something might ask me to think, but if it can’t make me care the topic brought up it fades away from my mind.
Everything experience in war would be asking to much to ask out of a movie, and a three episode anime OVA to capture. So they don’t in favor of a smaller, more personal driven story with a bigger backdrop. Area 88 might also be famous for it’s stellar animation on the combat sequences, but has a three dimensional protagonist in Shin Kazuma so that it doesn’t come off glamorized. In the middle of this discussion related to war is the more relatable trait of Shin Kazuma longing to return to his love one. Adding more to Shin Kazuma journey to return home out of the dreadful war zone. Showing more concern humanizing the people involve before discussing the issues war brings.
Lastly, the reason I still think about Area 88 is how perfectly it tied up everything in its ending. There’s no loose ends, and all character arcs are completed. When I witness the final shot of the OVA I thought about it for a long time. It lingered on me months later because everything presented to me felt natural within the story. It didn’t tell me, or ask me to think about the effect of war once it was over. There was no final message about war is bad, but what was left were my own thoughts, and what the OVA showed me. What it showed me was even though I know these things happen it takes something more than it’s basis in reality to make you care about anything. It’s just so happen in Area 88 was about war, and the effect of it. Something that most entertainment media that tackle this subject fail to make me care about. That’s why I celebrate the accomplishments Area 88 on this day.
That concludes yet another post in the 12 Days of Anime. At this rate, I might actually complete the 12 Days of Anime! WOOHOO! I do feel like I better articulated myself on the greatness of Area 88 with my review of it, but like everything else I heap more praise on. I ain’t passing up the chance to celebrate it more. See you all tomorrow for day 9, and my quest to commit to the 12 Days of Anime!