The Sky Crawlers (film)

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The Sky Crawlers
The Sky Crawlers Cover.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMamoru Oshii
Produced byTomohiko Ishii
Hideyuki Saitō (3DCG Producer)
Screenplay byChihiro Itō
Based onThe Sky Crawlers
by Hiroshi Mori
Music byKenji Kawai
CinematographyHisashi Ezura
Edited byJunichi Uematsu
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures (Japan)
Sony Pictures Releasing (International)
Release date
  • August 2, 2008 (2008-08-02) (Japan)
Running time
122 minutes
Budget$3 million
Box office$5.8 million[1]

The Sky Crawlers (スカイ・クロラ, Sukai Kurora) is a 2008 Japanese animated war film, directed by Mamoru Oshii. It is an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori's novel of the same name. It was released across Japanese theatres by Warner Bros. Japan on August 2, 2008.[2][3][4] Animated by Production I.G, the film was written by Chihiro Itō, featuring character designs by Tetsuya Nishio and music by Kenji Kawai.[2][3] The 3D CG animation for the movie was produced by the Polygon Pictures studio, who also produced the 3D CG for Oshii's previous film Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence.


The Sky Crawlers is set in an alternative history timeline where although the world is at peace, in order to ease the tension of a populace accustomed to war and aggression, private corporations contract fighter pilots to engage in actual combat operations against each other. The film introduces a mystery involving characters called Kildren (キルドレ, Kirudore, "kill-dolls") - humanoids genetically engineered in a way that enables them to live eternally in adolescence.

After the deaths of three pilots of the Rostock Corporation at the hands of a J2 Skyly piloted by the Lautern ace pilot 'Teacher', Yūichi Kannami is reassigned to Area 262. After meeting with the Chief Mechanic Towa Sasakura, he inquires as to the fate of the predecessor who had left the Sanka Mk.B pusher-prop assigned to him in pristine condition prior to his disappearance. Kannami is told to ask the base's CO Suito Kusanagi, who quickly dismisses him after informing him of a sortie that is to take place the following day. Shortly afterward, he meets the rest of the base's piloting corps: Aizu Yudagawa, Yuriyuki Shinota and Naofumi Tokino. After observing Yudagawa folding a newspaper in a certain way, Kannami learns that the fifth pilot in Area 262 is Kusanagi.

Tokino and Kannami embark upon a reconnaissance mission the following day, which is interrupted by three enemy fighters from the Lautern Corporation. The three pilots are quickly dispatched and the duo return to the base without incident. Once again, Kannami inquires as to the fate of his predecessor Kurita Jinroh, while questioning if Kusanagi is a Kildren as well. Less than willing to reveal the details of Jinroh's absence as well as information about her own nature, Kusanagi ignores Kannami's questions by dismissing him. Later that evening, Tokino and Kannami visit Danielle's Diner, where they are met shortly afterward by Kusumi and Fuuko - the latter of which Kannami has sex with. Fuuko informs Kannami of the relationship she had with Jinroh, while acknowledging that Kannami's existence must mean that Jinroh is no longer alive.

Returning from sortie early due to an oil leak, Kannami meets Mizuki Kusanagi, who introduces herself as Suito's younger sister, who inquires as to the nature of the Kildren. Tokino, returning later, reveals that Mizuki is not Suito's younger sister, but rather Suito's daughter. Discussing the matter with Suito, she wonders what will happen when Mizuki reaches Suito's age, revealing that Suito is indeed a Kildren. Speaking with Yudagawa later, he reveals that Kusanagi is always armed, and that she was the one who apparently shot Jinro.

A sponsor tour of the base is interrupted by the downing of a Rostock Sanka Mk.B from the neighbouring area. Arriving on the scene, Kusanagi berates a group of civilian observers for pitying the killed pilot before leaving the scene with Kannami. Later, Kannami visits the diner again, but his leave is cut short by the arrival of Lautern heavy bombers. Able to warn the base of the arriving bombers, Kusanagi sorties the pilots, taking Kannami's plane in his absence. The two visit theatre command, where they are met with an officer trying to bar them from meeting with Kusanagi's superior. The two later visit an isolated lodge, which, according to Kusanagi, "no-one visits twice". Kannami asks Kusanagi if the Yudagawa's story of Kusanagi killing Jinro is true, to which Kusanagi asks if Kannami "wants to be killed as well".

During a later sortie, Yudagawa and Kannami spot several Lautern bombers with fighter escorts. Rushing ahead to engage the enemy alone, Yudagawa is shot down by a J2 Skyly with a black jaguar painted on the side, the insignia of the Lautern ace known as "The Teacher". Discussing the matter with Tokino and Yuri, Kannami hears the rumour that the Teacher is not a Kildren, but a normal adult. Kusanagi orders all the remaining pilots sortie to hunt down the Teacher, taking Kannami's plane personally. Later, Tokino and Yuri return without Kusanagi, who rushed off alone after spotting the Teacher. Kannami's crashed Sanka is later found by Fūko, and the injured Kusanagi is brought back to base for treatment. Fūko reveals that Kusanagi once visited one of her clients, and had sex with him. Kannami asks Sasakura about Mizuki, but is, as always, unwilling to part with information easily.

The pilots are called to March-Hare base in preparation for a major Rostock operation against one of Lautern's major bases. Tokino and Kannami meet with Midori Mitsuya, March-Hare's ace pilot, who seeks out Kannami, having heard about his reputation. The pilots are briefed on the large operation, and are placed on escort for the fifty bombers. The collective pilots sortie, March-Hare's twin-engined heavy fighters pooled together with 262's Sanka-B's.

The operation commences, with Rostock's fighters refueling in mid-air. The pilots engage Lautern's fighters, but despite their best efforts, the Rostock forces lose several of their heavy bombers. The fighters are ordered to retreat and return to base, albeit without Yuri. 262 Squadron is reinforced by March-Hare's remaining pilots and their machines, Midori among them. During a debriefing session, Midori reports on the loss of two of March-Hare's pilots, describing the Teacher's aircraft and the exact way the Teacher shot them down at point-blank range.

Later that evening, Tokino, Kannami and Kusanagi go bowling together. After Tokino leaves, Kannami asks Kusanagi about the day she was shot down, and inquires as to her relation to the Teacher. Kusanagi reveals that the Teacher was not only once a member of Rostock, but her former superior officer. Kusanagi contemplates the nature of war, and how the perpetual existence of war mandates an undefeatable enemy, which exists in the form of the Teacher. Later, a heavily intoxicated Kusanagi puts a gun to Kannami's head before asking him to kill her, lest "nothing change" for them.

The pilots return to 262's base with the new March-Hare additions. Midori inquires about Mizuki, while Kannami encounters a new pilot, Aihara, who is a dead ringer for the late Yudagawa, right down to folding his newspaper in the same fashion. The base personnel settle into their familiar routines, while Midori begins to search for answers about Kusanagi. Sasakura reveals that Kusanagi, as such a skilled pilot, was one of the few Kildren who survived long enough to question their existence, while Midori expresses her lack of understanding of how the base personnel can be so complacent with the state of affairs.

Midori visits Kannami, questioning Kannami's memories and how he copes with his life. Theorising that Kannami copes by blurring his memories with the present, falling into an endless repetition of now. Midori reveals the nature of the Kildren's conception: they are an accidental by-product of Rostock's experiments with genetics, and as a result, they do not age, and cannot die unless killed. Midori suffers a nervous breakdown, questioning her own memories, wondering if she, too, is a Kildren, and crying about how she cannot recall anything of her childhood, questioning if she ever had one. She continues, revealing her conclusions: Kusanagi shot Jinro to end the perpetual repetition of the life of a Kildren, but he didn't die: he simply became Kannami, implanted with new memories to maintain his skills as a pilot.

Later that evening, Midori tries to shoot Kusanagi. Kannami, intervening at the sound of Midori's gunshot, proposes that he shoot Kusanagi, which appears to her as a "fine idea". As Kannami disarms Midori, she leaves, revealing that Kusanagi had Midori under her own gun the whole time. Kusanagi admits to killing Jinro on his own request, before asking Kannami to shoot her in turn. Kannami refuses to shoot Kusanagi, insisting that she must continue to live until she can change things.

The pilots leave on sortie, flying a patrol as Kannami contemplates how one can find new experiences even if one has travelled the same path before, and regains his memories as Jinro. Midori sights the Teacher's J2 Skyly, and Kannami engages the Lautern ace alone, resolving to "kill his father". After a brief dogfight, the Teacher executes his unique maneuver against Kannami's Sanka-B, and Kannami is killed in action. One by one, the base personnel accept that Kannami is not coming back.

Isamu Hiragi, Kannami's replacement, arrives at 262. His face is not seen, but his physical mannerisms in exiting his plane are identical to Kannami's, as is his lighting a cigarette, and the tone of his voice. As Sasakura looks on impassively from the hangar, as if she'd seen the scene play out many times before, the viewer is given a final strong hint that the Kildren may all be clones. Hiragi is greeted by Kusanagi in a much warmer fashion, telling him that she's "been waiting for him to arrive".



  • Sanka Mk.B: Standard fighter of Rostock Iron Works. It resembles the Kyushu J7W Shinden.
  • Someka: A twin engine pusher canard fighter.
  • Senryu: Two-seat radar equipped fighter resembling the Bolton Paul P99 and Junkers Ju 188.
  • Whale: Flying boat Tanker Aircraft
  • Bomber: Heavy bomber in a flying wing pusher configuration resembling the Northrop XB-35.


  • Rainbow: Standard fighter of Lautern with two pusher propeller engines. It resembles the blend of Gloster Meteor and Supermarine Spitfire.
  • Fortune: A six-engined pusher-prop heavy bomber. Likely modelled after the Victory Bomber.
  • Skyly J2: The fighter flown by 'Teacher'. Its design resembles Hawker Sea Fury but with turbocharged V-16 engine and five cannons. Also referred to as the "J-Zwei," zwei being German for two. Often misheard as J5.
  • Prop 4: This is actually just the shortened term "prop forward." It refers to aircraft with a tractor propeller configuration, such as the Skyly.









Author Mori said he felt The Sky Crawlers was the "most difficult" of his works to adapt, and only consented to its filming after learning of Oshii's directorial involvement.[2][3]


The Sky Crawlers
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedJuly 27, 2008

All music by Kenji Kawai.

  1. "Main Theme (Opening)"
  2. "First Sortie"
  3. "Sail Away (Vocal)"
  4. "Foo-Ko"
  5. "Main Theme (Memory)"
  6. "Mizuki"
  7. "Surprise Attack"
  8. "Drive-By-Wire"
  9. "Main Theme - Affair (Harp)"
  10. "Main Theme - Blue Fish (Orgel)"
  11. "Private Sortie"
  12. "Second Sortie"
  13. "Night Sortie"
  14. "March Hare"
  15. "Adler Tag"
  16. "Krakow"
  17. "Main Theme (Affair)"
  18. "Main Theme (Blue Fish)"
  19. "Final Sortie"
  20. "Teacher"
  21. "Main Theme (Ending)"

The song used in the end credits, "Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete", sung by Ayaka, was not included in the soundtrack.


The Sky Crawlers was distributed in Japan by Warner Bros. Japan. It was subsequently distributed internationally by Sony Pictures, who initially announced their plans on the film's North American premiere at the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival.[5][6][7] They consequently sent this film as their entry for Best Animated Feature at the 81st Academy Awards.[8]

The American release of the film differs from the Japanese release in that the song used during the ending credits of the Japanese version, "Konya mo Hoshi ni Dakarete", by Ayaka, is not used in the American release.


The film was an official selection of the 65th Venice International Film Festival, where it won the Future Film Festival Digital Award, and the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival. Later, the film competed officially at the famed Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival, where it won three separate awards: the Jose Luis Guarner Critic Award, Best Original Soundtrack (for Kenji Kawai) and an award given by the Carnet Jove Jury for "the best motion picture for a youth audience."[9] The film was also in the official selection at the Helsinki International Film Festival and Stockholm International Film Festival.[10] The International Press Academy nominated it for the Best Motion Picture.[11] It won Best Animation Film at the 63rd Mainichi Film Awards.[12]

The film received positive reviews from film critics. It holds a 80% approval rating on the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, based on 10 reviews with an average score of 6.86 out of 10.[13] Anime News Network gave the film a B+.[14]

Video game[edit]

A video game based on the film, The Sky Crawlers: Innocent Aces, was released for the Wii in October 2008 in Japan. It was released in North America and Europe in early 2010. Both Mamoru Oshii and Hiroshi Mori were involved in consulting development for the game.[15]


  1. ^ "Sukai kurora (The Sky Crawlers) (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved December 19, 2015.
  2. ^ a b c {{cite web|url= Sky Crawlers: Mamoru Oshii's New Film Unveiled!|publisher=Production I.Gan distributed internationally by [[Sony Pictures Entertainment]|date=2007-06-20|access-date=2007-06-20| status=live|archive-url=}}(in English)
  3. ^ a b c "Oshii's Latest Film, The Sky Crawlers, Set for 2008". Anime News Network. 2007-06-20. Archived from the original on 2007-06-25. Retrieved 2007-06-20.
  4. ^ a b "Sukai Kurora". Big Cartoon DataBase. 2007-09-08. Retrieved 2007-09-08.(in English)
  5. ^ "Sony Pictures Licenses Oshii's Sky Crawlers Film". Anime News Network. 2008-09-08. Archived from the original on 2008-10-13. Retrieved 2008-10-03.
  6. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (2008-09-07). "Sony picks up 'Sky Crawlers'". Variety. Archived from the original on 2008-09-11.
  7. ^ "Sony Acquires SKY CRAWLERS". 2008-09-08. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17.
  8. ^ "Latest Academy News". 10 September 2014. Archived from the original on 25 February 2012. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  9. ^ "Oshii's Sky Crawlers Picks Up 3 Awards at Sitges Fest". Anime News Network. 2008-11-10. Archived from the original on 2008-10-15. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  10. ^ Blu-ray cover artwork
  11. ^ Sky Crawlers trailer
  12. ^ "Ponyo, Sky Crawlers Win at 63rd Mainichi Film Awards". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on 22 April 2016. Retrieved 9 May 2016.
  13. ^ "The Sky Crawlers". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  14. ^ Sevakis, Justin (May 26, 2009). "Sky Crawlers, The (Blu-ray) - Review". Anime News Network. Archived from the original on November 2, 2012. Retrieved October 9, 2012.
  15. ^ "押井 守監督の最新劇場映画「スカイ·クロラ The Sky Crawlers」がWiiで登場 「スカイ·クロラ(仮題)」【映像インタビューつき】". 2008-03-21. Archived from the original on 2008-03-24. Retrieved 2008-03-21.

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