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AREA 88
Wendy, I can flyyyyyyyyyy!
The Crash & Burn ROSSMAN

Even though I love the idea of "flying," shows and movies about pilots and planes have never really interested me. I guess it all goes back to grade school when Top Gun first came out, and Peter Winkler demanded that we all call him "Maverick"... Or was it "Goose"? Who cares, both self-imposed nicknames are equally gay. Anyway, since then, whenever I see a series or something about pilots I always shudder, and think about Pete claiming that someday he was going to join the Airforce or Navy or Coast Guard or whatever and be a "Top Gun" himself. More than likely, if he ever did get the balls to become a military serviceman, he's just scraping bird shit off some runway in Guam, but I digress.

My point is that I usually don't give pilot shows a chance, unless I know that there's some really cool hook or premise behind them. Last Exile has the whole "really weird setting" thing, TV's Wings has Lowell the mechanic, and Area 88 has a really cool plot of betrayal and mercs just fightin' and killin' to stay alive.

I remember first seeing the original Area 88 manga in the early early issues of Animerica, before it did nothing but give Rumiko Takahashi sloppy American blowjobs and market her shit like an Indian street pimp named Rajah (I don't know why I wrote that, I actually rather enjoy most of Takahashi's manga... Except One Pound Gospel. Seriously, that's just pure lactose-intolerant crap). The Area 88 manga was pretty cool, but extraordinarily poorly drawn. It had the sloppiness of Monkey Punch's early (really terrible) Lupin III character designs, mixed with airplanes that looked like they were drawn by a six year-old with advanced ADD while in the back of a moving school bus. But the set up and the high drama still kept me intrigued. Then I eventually saw the 80s OVA, which, had a totally freaky 70s feel to it, despite it's above average animation budget. I liked it, but it was too short. Finally, yeeeeeears later (i.e. NOW), they finally made a 12 episode TV series out of the material. I guess Japan just ran out of fresh ideas on things to do with tentacles.

Anyway, so Area 88 is now a TV show, and it has updated character designs (thank Christ!) and a pretty good budget, along with some wicked violen-techno background music, and some fancy cel-shaded dogfight 3D CGI sequences. Honestly, the sky fighting was really impressive. They use real physics (well, most of the time) and real plane abilities, and people die horrible deaths all the freaking time. Granted, 99% of the deaths are red-shirt pilots, but it's still cool to see mortality on both sides of the battlefield as opposed to a one side fight between the totally invincible "good team " versus the completely inept "bad team." And seriously, some of the tactics that the bad guys use are pretty ingenious: snipers completely shutting down the base with just a few well placed bullets, surgically cutting off the good guys' oil supply, and massive bombing runs after using a decoy fleet to basically desert the whole base. Pretty schway maneuvering.

Now, when I say "good team " and "bad team," what I really mean is "the side our main character is forced to fight on" and "the side our main character is forced to fight against." The good guys' side is filled with just as many assholes as the bad guys' side. The base commander and the shop owner (with the wart the size of a small dog on his nose) are two great examples of cocksucks on the protagonist's side. The commander will do anything to keep his ace pilot from leaving, and the shop owner is a dick who will only do something for money (and when he finds out just how badly you need his help, he often raises the price). But, as usual, I'm getting way the fuck ahead of myself. I have to learn to start at the beginning.

In the beginning, there was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed Japanese man named Shin Kazama (who, for some reason, EVERYBODY can tell that he's Japanese just by glancing at him). Shin is an exceptional pilot, and for both him and his flying buddy, Kanzaki, the sky seems to be the limit... But then, Kanzaki gets jealous of good old Shin for accidentally getting too cozy with the daughter of the president of the airline company that they both work for; and jealousy and assholes make for bad nightmares for the folks who cross them. See, Kanzaki has a plan to climb up the corporate ladder faster than anyone else ever has, but Shin is in his way. Shin of course doesn't realize this, cause all he wants to do is fly and fuck Ryouko, the prez's loin spawn. So, Kanzaki gets Shin faced one night, and then makes him sign something... That "something" turns out to be a three year contract to the Royal Airforce of Asran, a Middle East country in the smack-dab middle of a civil war. Yes, Shin is totally boned.

Shin soon accepts his really shitty lot in life though, and very quickly becomes the base's top pilot, despite the gay rainbow-colored unicorn he has painted on his jet. See, there are three ways out of Area 88 alive (Area 88 being the base that all the Asran mercenaries are stationed at): By serving your full three year tour of duty (almost impossible as there are deadly missions being flown almost daily); By raising $1.5 million (each plane shot down, and each mission served earns pilots more money, but with parts, labor, food, ammo and regular upkeep to pay for, this is almost as impossible as making it all three years); or by deserting (which would make you a marked man for the rest of your probably very short life). Shin settles for earning the $1.5 mil, and he goes at it with gusto. THIS is where the dicks on his own side come into play. The base commander doesn't want Shin to be able to leave so easily, so he keeps doing little things to fuck up his savings and shit. And the shop owner is just the world's biggest pud who takes advantage of the poor sap pilots who are just trying to make it past the next mission. Sure, the shop guy can get you anything you request, from a girly magazine to a sidewinder missile, but booooooy howdy is there a price to pay. He reminds me a lot of Jimmy Bolder, who I knew in 2nd grade. He'd give me toys and crayons to get me to pretend to be his friend in front of his mom, but one day, when I saw that he had the Hooded Cobra Commander (that he never even fucking played with), and I asked if I could trade him a "Snake Eyes with Timber" for the Commander, he then got an evil gleam in his eye. He fucking had me where he wanted me, and he so knew it. Well, needless to say, I eventually DID get the Hooded Commander from him, but the price was almost too high for my 7 year-old dignity.... Hell, I was still too young to really get embarrassed about running around the neighborhood naked. Plus I got to keep my Snake Eyes!

Anyway, back to the review. Other than the rapid fire missions that Shin has to participate in, he's also got the problem of a nosey photographer on the base, who has been hired by Kanzaki to take a picture of him dead or dying, so that Kanzaki can get Ryouko to stop waiting for her boy-toy, and marry his scheming ass instead. Then he'd be a shoe-in for the next president of Yamamoto Hentai Air (or whatever the company was called). Oh, and that cameraman is also kind of a dick at first too.

The whole feel of the show was pretty cool. There's desperation, but no sense of total hopelessness. You just have a feeling that Shin will be able to pull it off and make it back to his darling Ryouko. Most of the main merc pilots that we get to know are pretty interesting people too, each with their own reason for signing up for this seemingly endless war. My favorite part of the story though, had to be the final episode. It just goes to show how far that base commander necrophiliac pedo will go to keep Shin on his leash, and it shows how far Shin is willing to go to get back to his chickie. Cool military dorama, to be sure. The one thing I didn't really get about this thing was how the rebel side could afford so many fucking MiGs and pilots of their own. Seriously, they got shot down and blown up (and the explosions in this show are reeeeeally cool! Visually and audiolly) at a ratio of 5 to 1 when compared to how many nationally supported Area 88 pilots are taken down. Weird.

There was one more thing I wanted to bring up before wrapping this whole thing up... Ummmmm, was Mickey looking at a "Playgirl" magazine in episode 12? Please tell me that was just the animators not understanding English.

What did I think of Area 88 (TV)? I give it 28.62 out of 31.112 Points of Aerial Acrobatic Awesomeness. I really liked it. I liked the story, the fights, the drama... All of it. It was the right length too. Had it been a 26 episode show it surely would have suffered from too much "mission of the week" syndrome. If they do ever continue the story, they should only do so with a one-shot OVA or a movie. That's it.

Oh, and UN Squadron rules!!!

Taaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaammi
The Barrel-Rolling
TAMMI WITH AN "I"

Ah've gotta say that Top Gun is one of mah all time favorite "hot boys" movie. Evah. It's got Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer, Dr. Greene, Sheriff Jimmy Brock, that Lt. from Starship Troopers, Tim Robbins and Meg Ryan. I'd do any one of 'em. Ah'd especially like to get them all in a big tub of cherry Jell-O, with a couple of containers of Cool Whip. And a whip. Oh, and one of them Japanese schoolgirl prostitutes with a cute little vibrating Hello Kitty cell phone. Mmmmmmm, delish!

What the hell's this about Area 51? Is this one of them X-Files shows? 'Cause that lame Lone Gunmen show was just the biggest pile of cow flunky Ah've ever done seen. Gimme Agent Mulder any day over 3 fugly geeks with no lives and lots of conspiracy theories about other freaks out to kill them or some shit... Oh, no offense, Rossman.

(Rossman's note: None taken... Whore)

Ah'm gonna have to give this show a finger right up it's gay premise. Alien and pilot shows jus' don't seem like a good idea to me, unless it was about all those guys Ah mentioned earlier gettin' it on with some sexy, self lubin' aliens with rock-hard abs, and killer butts. Then that might get mah attention.

Hey!
The Oil for Food Programmed
CHI-CHI

Whoa! This was pretty cool! Lots of planes flying around all *VRRRRROOOOOOOOM!* and shit, with lots of bullets and missiles going *SHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH KA-BOOOOM!* and stuff, and lots of guys going "Oh FUCK! Ahhhh! I've got a bogie on my ass! Get him off! Get him off! Oh SHIT! Noooooooooooo!!!" *KABLAMMO!*

Wow! Really cool! I even really liked that pilot girl. She was pretty cool. She reminded me of this chick I got drunk one night over at the Sea Wench Pub on "Slip Her a Mickey" Night. When I got her back to my place, she kept trying to work my manhood just like a fighter plane's joystick. To be honest, I thought it was cute and sexy how she would make all those plane noises as she pretended to fly around and shoot enemy planes down, but then she began to get a little TOO into it. She lit my bush on fire, claimed there was a malfunction in the jet intake and that she was going down in a blaze of glory. I pushed the burning pain aside upon hearing the "going down" part, but my hopes (and my consciousness) grew dim as she yanked a bit too hard on the controlling mechanism and started screaming "Mayday! Mayday! Echo One Niner in tailspin! I can't pull up! Gonna crash!!!" The next thing I knew I was in the recovery room over at St. Nichodimus, and the Rossman and the MegaPlayboy were standing above me, laughing at my bandaged love muscle and skin grafts that covered 65% of my body.

Whatever her name was, she was my best date EVER! I've got to find her again.

Good times! I give this show a great thumb up! Huzzah!