The content below is entirely editable.
We could use some help on this page. Hit the edit button to get started.
This trilogy retells three stories from Leiji Matsumoto's long-running Battlefield (Senjo) series, here retitled at the author's request and assigned to three different studios.
The first, Slipstream, is a Faustian tale, handled by Wicked City-director Kawajiri, about the Luftwaffe in August 1944. Nazi ace Rheindars (a lookalike of Captain Harlock) is asked to escort an atomic bomb to Peenemunde, where it is to be loaded onto a V-2 rocket. However, he eventually sabotages the project, even though it will mean the death of his ex-lover Marlene, a twin of Queen Emeraldas. Rheindars's plight is depicted as a pact with Satan and comes loaded with arch antinuclear messages-Marlene warns that only the truly evil would ever use atomic weapons, while Rheindars's commander anachronistically describes the V-2 as the world's first missile. In the final scene, as Rheindars saves Britain from nuclear holocaust, he describes himself as "the man who did not sell his soul to the Devil," though this line was absent from the original Japanese script and appears to have been improvised on the day of the recording.
Pointedly shifting ahead a year to the day before Hiroshima in August 1945, Sonic Boom Squadron is a naval story focusing on Nogami, a Japanese kamikaze rocket pilot. As in director Imanishi's Gundam stories, men are slaves to their machines, both sides suffer, and, in one scene, a Japanese pilot is found to have an exact double on the U.S. aircraft carrier he is attacking. The futility of the navy pilots, sacrificing their lives to carry human bombs to targets they will never reach, is echoed by their American counterparts, who mourn a promising comics artist shot down by the "crazy Japs." The hero, for his part, wants to be a rocket scientist and fly to the moon, but now finds himself piloting a human bomb.
The final part leaps back to 1944 (presumably to make Hiroshima the worthy centerpiece) and the Allied assault on Leyte in the Philippines. Directed by SPT Layzner's Ryosuke Takahashi, Knight of the Iron Dragon features Japanese army officers, all of whom have sworn never to surrender, realizing that they will have to retreat. A young motorcyclist goes to fetch the last artillery group but finds them almost completely wiped out. Despite the attractive prospect of desertion, he resolves to return to his base. A mechanic who used to be a motorcycle racer offers to help out, and there are shades of The Great Escape as they rush across the war-torn island to reach the base in time. Again there is an element of tragedy; the base has already fallen, but it becomes a matter of honor that they go to die with their comrades.
With Nazis and Japanese soldiers for heroes, this could have easily added to anime's bad press, but, though Ma-tsumoto is clearly in love with the idea of defeat, the superb animation and thoughtful script make this one of the triumphs of anime. It is also available in two excellent translations, in the U.K. from Kiseki (1995) and in the U.S. from Urban Vision (1999). V