The Cockpit (OVA)
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|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Yoshiaki Kawajiri (ep 1)
Takashi Imanishi (ep 2)
Ryōsuke Takahashi (ep 3)
|Written by||Leiji Matsumoto|
|Studio||Madhouse (ep 1)
Jacom (ep 2)
Visual 80 (ep 3)
|Licensed by||Urban Vision|
|Released||October 22, 1993|
|Runtime||30 minutes each|
The Cockpit (ザ・コクピット Za Kokupitto?) is a World War II anthology film based on Leiji Matsumoto's Battlefield manga. The animated shorts are written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takashi Imanishi and Ryousuke Takahashi.
Kawajiri's Slipstream follows a Luftwaffe pilot on his mission to protect Germany's trump card: the world's first atomic bomb. Imanishi's Sonic Boom Squadron explores the last hours of an Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka pilot on August 6, 1945. Takahashi's Knight of the Iron Dragon tells the story of two Japanese soldiers in Leyte as they attempt to keep a promise.
Captain Erhardt Von Rheindars, a German fighter pilot who is disgraced for abandoning his Fw 190 after his wingman, Lt. Erich Hartmann, is shot down by three enemy Spitfires during a night recon mission, is assigned to escort a captured American B-17 bomber. The bomber is to carry his childhood sweetheart, her scientist father and a fearsome secret cargo - a Nazi atomic bomb - and for the mission, he is given a prototype Ta 152, following complaints about the high altitude performance of his Fw 190. The night before the mission, Rheindars's sweetheart begs him to let enemy planes destroy the bomber before "humanity sells its soul to the devil forever", even though she and her father will die with it. On the next day, after shooting down two of three attacking RAF Spitfires with his Ta 152, Rheindars allows the third Spitfire to destroy the bomber; afterwards he destroys the third Spitfire, and flies off declaring himself "the man who did not sell his soul to the devil".
Sonic Boom Squadron
On August 5, 1945, a Japanese force of Betty bombers, each carrying an Ohka and escorted by N1K Shiden fighters, attempts a raid on an American aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific Ocean. As the raiders are attacked by American carrier-based aircraft, Ensign Nogami, a young Ohka pilot, demands to be launched in his Ohka, but his Betty's crew refuses. The bomber is destroyed, throwing Nogami into space. He survives the failed raid and is able to return to base, where he meets the crew of the Betty who will fly him on a mission the following day, as well as two surviving Shiden pilots who vow to help him succeed in his mission if it costs them their lives. On board the American carrier, the pilots receive news from their captain that the attacking Betties were carrying Ohkas which are much faster than their own F6F Hellcats.
The next day, August 6, the Japanese attempt a second raid on the same battle group. An intense aerial fight ensues as the American carrier aircraft attempt to thwart the raiders from launching their Ohkas. Nogami's bomber is heavily damaged and almost destroyed, but is saved by the intervention of one of the Shiden pilots, who crashes his aircraft into a pursuing Hellcat. This enables the bomber to get within visual range of the battle group, and Nogami is launched in his Ohka just before the bomber disintegrates. He flies through a wall of anti-aircraft fire thrown up by the escorting vessels and crashes into the American aircraft carrier. Just before the carrier explodes, the battle group's commander receives word that an atomic bomb has just been dropped on Hiroshima.
Knight of the Iron Dragon
Private Kodai and Private Utsunomiya attempt to reach an air base in order to fulfill a promise despite the fact that it might have been rendered moot in the reality of war. The Japanese soldiers make their way by motorcycle, and along the way are ambushed by a captured Kawasaki Ki-61, but the American pilot loses control and crashes. The soldiers continue on while Utsunomiya hides the fact that he was shot by the captured Ki-61. Later, they are attacked by an American soldier riding a motorcycle. Kodai treats this as a race and makes the soldier crash. When the air base is on the horizon Kodai kicks Utsunomiya off the motorcycle and declares that he is going to cross the finish line. Private Kodai races towards the base and is gunned down by American soldiers. Utsunomiya dies of his wounds and the American soldier that attacked them on a motorcycle remarks "if that was a race he would have been the winner but in a real race no one shoots at you at the finish line".
Home Video Release
The anthology was first released in English in the UK on VHS on the Kiseki label. A separate translation was later released in the North American market by Urban Vision, and it has yet to be released on Region 1 DVD. However, it's not clear whether the niche appeal of the content in general, its controversial "positive" portrayal of Axis fighters, or the loss of the license, or all of the above, are the culprits behind its lack of a transition to DVD. It was available in that format in Japan, however. (The movie was released on DVD in a double feature in PAL regions alongside Digital Devil, but that too is out-of print) A Blu-ray version was released in Japan by Pony Canyon on August 24, 2013.
While there is no official North American release of the manga, Frederik L. Schodt included a translated excerpt of the series in his Manga! Manga! guide.
There was also an untranslated panel from the strip which made a "cameo" in episode 101 of the Galaxy Express 999 anime.