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Sky Crawlers

Entry updated 5 July 2021. Tagged: Film.

Japanese animated film (2008). Production I.G, Polygon Pictures. Directed by Mamoru Oshii. Written by Chihiro Itō. Cast includes Ryō Kase, Rinko Kikuchi, Chiaki Kuriyama and Shōsuke Tanihara. 122 minutes. Colour.

In a world at peace, humanity's belligerent instincts find an outlet in a televised aerial Future War managed by competing private corporations (see Games and Sports). The pilots in the conflict are "Kildren", human Clones who can be swiftly replaced with facsimiles in the event of their deaths. One such clone is Kannami (Kase), a new arrival at a European airbase, encountering the vestiges of his previous incarnation: former wingmen who accept him without a word, and an ex-lover resentful over the actions of an individual who both was and was not Kannami himself. Meanwhile in the skies overhead, the unseen enemy air ace "The Teacher" defeats all opponents.

Fully aware that they are disposable, the pilots develop odd quirks and self-destructive tendencies, confused by the simultaneous futility and Immortality of their condition. It was this allegory of teenage apathy that first drew director Mamoru Oshii to the material of Hiroshi Mori's original novel The Sky Crawlers (2001), along with the resonances of industrial despondency within the Anime business itself: the Kildren give their all in their enterprise, working with bad materials for the superficial praise of uncomprehending foreign dilettantes, at the expense of lives not lived and greater achievements unattempted. The release of Sky Crawlers came accompanied by dire warnings about the state of anime, including Oshii's claim that atrophy of talent in the field had left him with no choice but to shoot the aerial combat sequences with computer graphics instead of more traditional animation. Mori and Oshii were also involved as consultants in the Videogame Tie Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces (2008) for the Nintendo Wii console. [JonC]


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