Film Review: The Sky Crawlers
November 29, 2008, 2:32 pm
Filed under: Anime, Film | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Sky Crawlers

The Sky Crawlers

The Sky Crawlers, the last book of its series of novels, takes place in an alternate time-line, following the lives of a group of adolescent fighter pilots, known as Kildren. The award-winning, Oscar-nomination-possible film, adapted from a part of 森博嗣 (MORI Hiroshi)‘s five-part novel, is directed by 押井守 (Oshii Mamoru).

Warning: Spoilers ahead, read at own risk.

Taken from Production I.G.:

The film is based on a popular five-part novel by a best-seller writer, MORI Hiroshi, who enjoys enthusiastic support from younger generations and has sold over 8 million copies of his works in total. The story unfolds in another ‘possible’ modern age. The main characters are youngsters called “Kildren”, who are destined to live eternally in their adolescence. The Kildren are conscious that every day could be the last, because they fight a “war as entertainment” organized and operated by adults. But as they embrace the reality they are faced with, they live their day-to-day lives to the full.

After reading the novel, Director Oshii praised it as “a work that should be made into a movie for young people now.” Clothing, food and housing are in abundance in our modern society, and yet we carry an unfulfilled vacuum in our hearts. “It is time to face this new perception to our existence through the Kildren, who live indefinitely in eternal adolescence, and this theme should be dealt with now,” claims Oshii earnestly. The author MORI regards his novel, The Sky Crawlers “as the most difficult among all of my works for film adaptation.” However, MORI declared himself “surprised and relieved at the same time to know the director was going to be Mamoru Oshii,” and gave his immediate consent.

A military romance drama, it is set in an era similar to WWII’s. To fight as a fighter pilot is the only way for the Kildren to live their lives, for they do not age, thus do not die unless killed. Puppets of the two warring companies, the Kildren have no choice but to embrace their destiny and try to live fulfillingly. Some point in the movie reveals the darker side of the plot; who Kannami really is, who the father of Kusanagi’s daughter is, who Jin-roh before his death is, and of course when you realise where the plot is directing you to, everything falls into place.

True to director Oshii’s style, the visuals in the film were nothing short of spectacular, with dogfighting skirmishes punctuating the cadence of slow-paced expositions. Character development for the adolescent protagonists sufficed to portray the intricate relationships between Kannami and Suito, the other Kildren and the system that drives their world. Towards the end, that powerful moment enhanced by Kusanagi’s one rare emotional outbreak as well as the trifling of Kannami’s seemingly heroic determination and will to defeat ‘the Teacher’, had made the powerful, thought-inducing element that complements the main feel of the film. Why has her resolution dissolved? Was she any different in other of Kannami’s incarnation? Did she break down everytime Kannami or his predecessors came to love her? What will become of their found love? How would Kusanagi choose to face death itself?

The film subliminally teases you into its gripping plot, with heart-wrenching the audience its motive. The sparse discourse throughout the film, the trance-inducing background music, as well as the explosive opening marred by death, creates a surreal and overpoweringly oppressive flavour. With each iteration of death we are aware of, the atmosphere becomes heavier. With each incarnation we see, the mood becomes more tense. Till towards the end, as Kusanagi waits for Kannami’s return that will never come, with her daughter hopeful of a new father, it was painfully so Kusanagi has to accept the reality. Being another taint to her already torn insides, it was Kannami’s feelings for her that had gave her the last reason to continue living and deplore nothing of her loss.

A visually stunning, thought inducing film that grips you from the start till the last moment with its plot, ‘The Sky Crawlers’ is one of the most intriguing I’ve watched to date. If time and finances allow, I would have no hesitation in wanting to rewatch Sky Crawlers.

Note: ‘The Sky Crawlers’ is exclusive to select GV cinemas only.

Promo vid for The Sky Crawlers


Based on the novel by MORI Hiroshi (published in Japan by Chuokoron-Shinsha)
Screenplay: Chihiro Ito
Music: Kenji Kawai
Executive Producers: Seiji Okuda, Mitsuhisa Ishikawa
Producer: Tomohiko Ishii
Director: Mamoru Oshii
Sequence Director: Toshihiko Nishikubo
Character Designer/Key Animation Director: Tetsuya Nishio
Mechanical Designer: Atsushi Takeuchi
Art Director: Kazuo Nagai
Art Settings: Takashi Watabe
Color Designer: Kumiko Yusa
Visual Effects: Hisashi Ezura
CGI Supervisor: Hiroyuki Hayashi
Line Producer: Toru Kawaguchi
Animation Production: Production I.G
Distribution in Japan: Warner Entertainment Japan
Distribution in Singapore: Encore Films
Rinko Kikuchi as Suito Kusanagi
Ryo Kase as Yūichi Kannami
Chiaki Kuriyama as Midori Mitsuya
Shosuke Tanihara as Naofumi Tokino

Official website (Japanese only):
Encore Films:
Production I.G. Release Info:

Sky Crawlers wiki:

p.s. Because of the plot device, the Kildren drink, smoke, and make out like adults do. Perhaps it is why in the film they don’t seem all that exactly like adolescents.


4 Comments so far
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I saw this promo video about 2 months ago, when I was at a lecture by a Tokyo University professor who works also as an assistant of Miyazaki Hayao. He said it has perfect animation, but I don’t like it exactly because the animation seems too perfect to me. I don’t like that lip-sync when they’re talking in particular.

Comment by Matteas

Here’s my interpretation of the story:

The story is told through Kannami’s point of view but it really is all about the emotional hell that Kusanagi is going through.

“Teacher” (the ace pilot from Lautern), Kurita Jinrou (the lover killed by Suito Kusanagi, the base boss), Yuichi Kannami (the main protagonist who replaces Jinrou) and Hiiragi Isamu (the pilot that replaces Kannami right at the end of the movie) were all kildren clones created from the same personality template.

This is why Fuko (the courtesan who sleeps with Kannami at the beginning) makes reference that Kannami reminds her of Jinrou (who she used to have sex with). Most likely Fuko also used to have sex with Teacher (remember the scene where Kusanagi jealously confronts Teacher in Fuko’s room).

Teacher used to fly for Rostock but made a deal to join Lautern, on the condition that Lautern would genetically modify him into a normal “adult male” (Kusanagi mentions this in conversation with Kannami).

Here’s the tragedy of it all: Kusanagi fell in love with Teacher and had a child with him, prior to Teacher switching over Lautern. Rostock than replaces Teacher with an exact clone of him named Jinrou.

Thus, the tragedy that unfolds for Kusanagi — she remains madly in love with Teacher but cannot have him. Unable to contain her feelings, she begins a relationship with Jinrou who reminds her exactly of Teacher (Remember the scene where Kusanagi hugs the bunk bed, which was likely the very same bed used by Teacher, Jinrou and Kannami).

The plot seems to suggest that when Jinrou discovers that Kusanagi is actually in love with Teacher and not him (Jinrou just happens to look and talk exactly like Teacher), he is heartbroken and asks Kusanagi to kill him, which she does — and this then sends her into the suicidal mood she is in for most of the movie, as she relives her heartbreak of loving but not having Teacher, and her guilt over killing Jinrou.

Just when Kusanagi thinks things can’t get any worse, along comes Kannami (another Teacher clone), who again triggers all her repressed feelings. The dilemma is that Kusanagi is unable to control her unrequited love for Teacher and continues to love him by proxy via Kannami. Finally, Kusanagi can no longer take the guilt and pressure and asks Kannami to “kill me this time.” But Kannami refuses and instead tells Kusanagi that in order to make things better, one must first choose to live.

When Kannami says “I will kill my father” at the end when he goes after Teacher, he has realised that he is nothing more than a clone of the Teacher template, and is trying to end the vicious cycle of heartbreak for Kusanagi’s sake. Unfortunately, he fails.

At the end of the movie after the credits, Kannami’s replacement arrives (yet another clone of Teacher). But something has changed inside Kusanagi, who seems to have taken onboard what Kannami said and has accepted her fate. Hence, she says “I’ve been expecting you.”

The interesting thing is, how many clones of Teacher has Kusanagi killed? How long has this vicious cycle been going on? Was Jinrou the only one? Is Kusanagi a clone herself that has been killed before by a Teacher clone? The real tragedy would be a vicious cycle of Teacher and Kusanagi clones taking turns to kill each other to ease their pain.

Comment by Conniechiwa

bunk beds should be made from strong materials like steel or better yet composite fibers`.,

Comment by L-Lysine Side Effects :

bunk beds are quite comfortable specially if you use them in a tightly packed room or in a limited spaced room :”

Comment by Outdoor Rugs ·

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