Area 88 (エリア88, Eria Hachijū-Hachi) is a Japanese manga series by Kaoru Shintani serialized between 1979 and 1986. The story is about a young pilot named Shin Kazama and his experiences at Area 88, a mercenary air force base secluded in the desert of a war-torn country. Shin goes from head of his class at a world-renowned aviation school, dating the beautiful daughter of an airline president, to a mercenary fighter pilot bound to Area 88 by a three-year contract that he was duped into signing by a jealous and competitive childhood friend. He is determined to earn $1.5 million to buy his way out of the obligation and return home, and killing becomes second nature to him as he quickly rises to the top rank at Area 88. Overwrought with shame and self-loathing for what he has become, Shin begins to question whether he is still fighting for survival, or, like his fellow mercenaries, for the sheer excitement and camaraderie of battle.
|Written by||Kaoru Shintani|
|Magazine||Shōnen Big Comic|
|Original run||1979 – 1986|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Hisayuki Toriumi|
|Produced by||Yuji Nunokawa|
|Written by||Akiyoshi Sakai|
|Music by||Ichiro Nitta|
The Cannon Group
|Released||February 5, 1985 – August 15, 1986|
195 minutes (total)
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Isamu Imakake|
|Produced by||Ryōsuke Takahashi|
|Written by||Hiroshi Ōnogi|
|Music by||Kazunori Miyake|
The Cannon Group
|Original network||Animax, Asahi Broadcasting|
|Original run||January 8, 2004 – March 25, 2004|
Area 88 was among the first three manga to be translated into English and published in North America. It has been adapted into an OVA in 1985, a video game in 1989 (released in North America as U.N. Squadron), and a 12-episode anime television series in 2004. It is also a brand of model aircraft in Japan. While it appeals to aviation fans for its realistic depictions of aircraft and aerial combat, it has also been critically acclaimed for its strong character development and Shintani's poignant storytelling, combining action, tragedy, romance, and comedy. In 1985, the manga received the Shogakukan Manga Award for shōnen.
Area 88 takes place between the late 1970s to early 1980s and is largely set in a war-embroiled Middle Eastern country called the Kingdom of Asran (alternatively transcribed as "Aslan" or "Arslan"). The war uses mercenary fighter pilots, with its headquarters at a secret desert air force base called Area 88. Up-and-coming airline pilot Shin Kazama gets tricked into signing up by his "friend" Satoru Kanzaki. Facing execution for deserting from Area 88, Shin reluctantly becomes a fighter pilot and attempts to serve his three-year contract.
Area 88 attracts all kinds of people with all kinds of assorted and often sordid pasts. Among the other mercenaries are Mickey Simon, an American who previously served as a fighter pilot in the United States Navy and couldn't adjust to normal life after his tour of duty in the Vietnam War. Mickey becomes Shin's best friend at Area 88. Another familiar sight at Area 88 is McCoy, a greedy weapons dealer who sells everything the mercenaries need from toilet paper to their planes. The commander of Area 88 is Arslanian Prince Saki Vashutal, though his royal heritage means nothing there. Also prominent on the base are war photographer Go "Rocky" Mutsugi (presented as Makoto Shinjou in the 2004 anime), Danish pilot Greg Gates (later featured in the video game adaptation), former NATO Air Force officer Hoover Kippenberg from West Germany, Major Roundell, a former officer of the Royal Navy Air Force and second in command of the base and the numerous pilots with whom Shin flies (most of them die over the course of the series, often in the issue in which they were introduced). Though the series focuses mostly on Shin, other characters (notably Rocky and Mickey) did have their own individual storylines.
There are only three ways to leave Area 88: Survive three years, pay off a USD 1.5-million contract in bounties, or desertion, which is a capital offense. With each enemy plane brought down, Shin faces his shifting acceptance of the violence and killing that fills every day, as well as suppressing his feelings of wrongdoing.
In the Original version, Ryoko, Shin's girlfriend, who was worried about Shin's disappearance, happens to fly with Saki, who was travelling to Europe in order to evaluating some new military equipment but he later found out that, due to his presence, the civilian plane has been bomb rigged. Only Shin and Mickey intervention succeed in a dangerous release operation over a bomb set on the airplane exterior. Ryoko curious by the all ordeal, decided to investigate better one she return home, where she happens to find a photo of Saki and Shin in a magazine she picks up. Therefore, Ryoko learns that Shin is in the Aslan Kingdom of the Middle East, and travels with Taeko Yasuda, her dad 's secretary, to the country butthe plane, who she is onboard, is piloted by none other that Kanzaki himself. Shin, listening to the communication of a civilian aircraft entering the aeronautical radius in Area 88 , learns that Kanzaki's aircraft is near Aslan. In rage, Shin tries to shoot down the plane, regardless of the civilian casualties that will result with his act, not to mention, the death penalty charge of terrorism, he will face when he return to Aslan, only the revelation of Kanzaki (during a radio chatter between him and Shin's plane) that Ryoko is on board, convinced Shin to desist of his murder intention, but due to the fact he had already damaged the aircraft with his machine gun, Kanzaki rapidily use it as excuse to redirected the plane to Rome, avoiding Ryoko to find out the truth. Later, Shin is forced to land back to Area 88, where he is immediately arrested for attacking a civilian aircraft and put in a cell, but Shin who at the moment is not thinking rationally, have a violent outburst and severely injured Commander Saki to the eyes before been restrained by the base guards. Despite facing almost surely the death penalty, a few days later, Shin is released by Saki from the cell, both due to Shin's ability as ace pilot and as well to the fact that Saki own his life twice to Shin (one for rescuing him from the terrorist plot and another, during a mission in which Saki was forced to pilot a plane himself, but was badly injured requiring Shin's instruction to land safely to the base), but Saki advised Shin that there will be no second chance. While, Shin is relieved that he will not die, Shin quickly regret his previous actions, when he found out that due to his previous beating, he has aggravated Saki previous damage to the nerve optic, which could lead to blindness, forcing Saki to underwent an operation in Switzerland to regain his sight. While, in Switzerland, Saki is targeted by an assassination attempt, which he managed to evade only due to the intervention of Ryoko, who happen to be in the same hospital to visit her father that was recovering from a heart attack, however after the attempt, Ryoko ask Saki about Shin, revealing her relationship with him to Saki. Meanwhile, Kanzaki decided to speed his own plan to take control of Yamato Airlines, allying himself both with Maxwell Corporation, an American plane manufacturer company, who later jet lines model seem like initially as a big success, been both easier to handle and cheaper to buy, and Giuseppe Farina, a former don of the Sicial Mafia and bigshot in the blackmarket arms deal, who Kanzaki offer a billionaire contract in exchange of Farina support in Kanzaki's acquisition of the Yamato Airlines stock share and as well Shin's death, who Kanzaki admit to have underestimated and as well to settle the score for Shin's attempted assassination. For the latter part of his deal, Farina sent out to area 88, "Invicible Charlie", a former French pilot and veteran of Area 88, the first to even manage to pay his fine for his contract with the Aslan kingdom, who in exchange of a huge bounty of ten million of dollars agreed to return to Area 88 and kill Shin, however in the original version, Charlie's attempt on Shin backfire, when his plane is hit by a birdstrike, crashing his plane and ending his life, while Shin despite losing his plane, manage to eject and reach back Area 88.
At that time, Kanzaki took over Yamato Airlines in Japan, and Kanzaki, becoming the new president and adopting the new passenger plane of Maxwell Corporation, which had low operating costs, improving the profitability of Yamato Airlines. However, a crash occurs off the coast of Haneda, revealing to Kanzaki that his new planes had also low safely standard and were re-evaluated by the USA Airplane Commission. Yasuda, who had doubts about Kanzaki's behavior before Kanzaki taking over of the company, conducts a personal investigation of him. Knowing this, Kanzaki sends mistress Juliola, Farina's personal secretary and later on Kanzaki's lover, to kill Yasuda, but Yasuda escapes her attempt murder and drives Kanzaki into dismissal by publishing an investigation report. At the same time, Giuseppe Farina used the income of Kanzaki's deal to develop new weapon, using the Aslan Civil War as a test site for the development of these, collecting various data, in particular Farina has managed to develop a ground-based nuclear aircraft carrier(which is able to "dive" into the desert sand), equipped with drone-guided airplane and in particular with the "Grand Slam", a low-yield nuclear ballistic missile which is able to drive underground using the underwater veins. Farina invites Saki's younger brother, Richard Vashtar, who is a member of the rebel army, to the ground carrier and announces that he will lend the ground carrier to the rebel army, in exchange of some post-war repayment.
As result, Area 88 attacks the ground aircraft carrier, but Area 88 pilots struggle with the remote-controlled F-18 , which are based on the carrier, but Saki's younger brother Richard, who was inspecting the ground aircraft carrier on behalf of his father, tried to prevent the launch of the underground missile "Grand Slam" that was to be used to attack Area 88 but, as result he is shot by Farina's men and left dying in the desert. Richard is saved by McCoy who happens to pass by, who then brought Richard into Area 88, where Richard manage to alert Saki of the Grand Slam existence and that Farina plan to use it against Area 88, thus his injuries proved to be too severe, resulting in his demise, much to Saki's grieve. While Saki take any possible countermeasure against the Grand Slam, he later found out that if the Grand Slam doesn't reach Area 88, the underwater vein will carry the missile to Aslan's Capital, forcing Saki to come with a plan to detonate the missile safely at distance to Area 88, preventing it to reaching the capital, while the plan result in an astonishing success, as result of the missile shockwave, the main runaway of the base is severely damaged and therefore Area 88 lost its function as an air force base . The ground aircraft carrier informs the Aslan government that it will launch a second Grand Slam toward the royal capital and demands that it pass the administrationto the rebels if it wants to stop the launch. In response to this, Shin heads for Aslan Royal Palace with Saki. During the trip, Saki however surprise Shin when he reveal that in fact Saki has met with Ryoko while he was treating her eyes in Switzerland, and Ryoko told him about her relationship with Shin. In consideration of Ryoko and as gratitude for saving Saki's life while in Switzerland, Saki has arranged that Shin be transferred on the Aslan foreign unit training base in Greece as instructor, which while he will still unable to avoid his service in the Aslan Mercenaries Forces, it will allow him to survive until his contract term expire, avoiding his almost sure death, especially in their current circumstances. Regardless, Shin refused the order choosing to continue the fight against the ground aircraft carrier, willing to see the end of the conflict, which however fail to materialize since it is revealed that the Grand Slam attack on the royal capital was unsuccessful due to an accident, but the carrier used the distraction of the impending attack to occupy Area 88, using the carrier as new runaway of the base. Luckily, due to the fact that Saki had ordered most of the pilots to head to other bases, when he realized that Area 88 was now useless form a military point of view without a functioning runaway, Saki is able to organize a final counteroffensive against the ground aircraft carrier with the remaining pilots (including Shin) and they succeeds in destroying the ground aircraft carrier, but in the series of battles, they have lost many comrades and the residual radioactivity generated when the ground aircraft carrier was destroyed left Area 88 unusable. In fact, the true winner is almost ironically Kanzaki who is revealed, was in fact behind the Grand Slam attempt against the royal capital having convinced the military commander of the carrier to mutiny against Farina, in an attempt to discredit him and take possession of his fortune, having counterfeit several legal documents that would prove to the world that Kanzaki is really Giuseppe Farina's illegimate son and as back-up plan Kanzaki use his relationship with Juniola to directly murder Farina, declaring himself "Satoru Farina" and taking control of all his riches and industries.
Afterward, Area 88 is forced to undergone a unit reorganization at the Greek Foreign Legion training base under the command of Roundel, and at the same time, management is transferred to the Aslan regular army, as result the mercenaries find themselves penalized since they lose to the right to forfeit a mission with money (before in fact all pilot where free to refuse to participate in a mission, in exchange of a fine of 50.000 dollars from their account, while fail to do that forced the pilot to either participate or risk the capital offence), thus in exchange they receive the commission of an official rank in the Aslan Military and a minimum stable pay. As result, Shin was appointed captain and is forced to continue to fight as combat pilot until his contract expired. Shin, therefore become the commander of some units and he is assigned Kim Aba, a young African pilot, the newest recruit of Area 88, as his direct subordinate. Shin uses a thorough training to prepare Kim and himself to survive and personally trains Kim to become a first-class warrior.
However, compared to the original, the new Area 88 is a steep base made by cutting out mountains, reducing therefore its effective value as combat unit and forcing the pilot to longer flight (and therefore expense) to reach the combat zone. At the same time, Area 88 is forced again to confront the rebels who are intensifying their offensive. While, Ryoko decide to work with Yasuda to build a major brand in the European apparel industry, Kanzaki who has secured his "father" resources and plans, decide to implement "Project 4", a possible future war plan that Farina had previous consider to use to take control of Aslan, which Kanzaki want to use both to growth his own new personal and economical power, as well to take his final revenge against Shin. As result, Kanzaki give heavy support to the Aslan rebels, sending weapon and mercenaries, who thank to his support manage to bring the Aslan Civil War to the main cities, defeating in several battle the regular army. In these actions, the rebel are helped due to the intervention on their side of mercenary pilot Gary Mack-Bahn (Mack), a notorious original Blue Angels of the USAF, veteran of the Vietnam War and old friend of Mickley, who is however surprise to learn that his old friend become a mercenary, recalling that Mack had always a strong dislike of the War, until he find out that Mack has fallen into mercenary to help his daughter, who is afflicted by a serious illness which require expensive medicine. Meanwhile, Shin is distracted by the new anti-aircraft weapons of "Project 4" and is shot down, becoming acquainted with the bewitching mercenary Seilane Balnock ( Sera ), a female rebel ace pilot, who Shin had previously manage to shoot down, but who she surprising fall in love for Shin, both due to his skill and as well for his sincerity, when while awaiting rescue both of them are forced to collaborate to survive, sharing their personal war experience to each other. While they both manage to survive the ordeal and return to their respective side, in a following battle, Mickey shoots down Sera and takes her as a prisoner of war, but Area 88 's struggle are revealed to be fruitless, and the royal capital falls due to the offensive of Project 4. These events put considerate pressure on Area 88 and his members, after they found out that de-facto they are the last loyalist base of the Aslan military still operative, while the royal family is forced to escape in Europe, creating a government-in-exile in France. Shin, however is especially stressed out, due to the fact that in ones of his last operations, Shin was forced to kill a fellow recruit pilot who while in combat started to panicking, shooting friend or foes, but despite the needed sacrifice, Shin realized is not concerned as he should be about his death, realizing that he had become the ruthless killer he had "aspire" to be in order to survive the war. Growing fearful of himself and his fellow soldiers, Shin free Sera from her prison, believing her to be in danger to be killed by the stressed-out Aslan soldiers, allowing her to escape in Europe with the cargo plane of Area 88, but asking Sera to deliver a message to Ryoko, informing her that "Shin Kazama scattered in the sky of Aslan as a mercenary ... " which Sera do, but misunderstand Shin's message who in actual wanted to convey his farewell realizing that the man he is now, is not the same man that fell in love with Ryoko. However, just afterward Shin is ironically ordered by Saki to exile to France with King Zaku(the king of Aslan and Saki's uncle), and then to be discharged, keeping faith in his eyes to Ryoko promise and Shin's wishes, while the Area 88 members attempt to escape with the determination of death as a large force of rebels approaches it. Despite the fact, that Saki and the other are able to destroy the rebel air raid and protect Area 88, Saki is informed by his uncle, that the Greece government has decided to relinquish their previous contract with the Aslan kingdom for the current Area 88 base and therefore they have only a week to abandon the base, before the Greece military drive off them from the island. Saki, realizing that the war de-facto is over, was ready to disband Area 88 as a mercenary unit, but key members such as Mickey, Greg, and Kim convinced him to continue fighting, admitting that if he accept to continue to lead them, they will continue to fight for him. Therefore, Saki decide to launch an operation to reclaim a small temporary mountain base on the coastline of Aslan, claiming for the loyalist government as the second "new Area 88", trying to resist to the rebel counterattacks, here Saki is joined by the remaining member of the Aslan military and other unit loyal to his uncle, including Sera who is revealed, decided to join them, signing a contract with the government-in-exile as mercenary pilot, having grown estranged to the rebel agenda, after witnessing through the uncensored European newspapers the devastation brought to Aslan by the weapons of Project 4 and the apparent lack of the rebels of a postwar reconstruction plan. Meanwhile, Shin was discharged in Paris, but realizing that his combat daily life was no longer a pain for him and that he will unable to readjust to civilian society in a short time, decided instead to volunteers for a mercenary unit called Mark III situated in Africa and calls Ryoko, who is staying in Paris, to say definitely goodbye.
A couple of weeks later, Kanzaki declares the founding of a New Aslan Kingdom with Abdael as new king, however de-facto Abdael is reduced to the role of "puppet" of Kanzaki, who impose to Abdael to divert fund originally planned for the reconstruction of Aslan to the military complex, in fact Kanzaki intend to use Aslan to invade its neighbor oil-rich country of Brausa with a blitzkrieg operation, with the intention of ultimately dominate the oil-rights in the Middle East. When Abdael try to protest, pointing out not only that the nation is not ready for another war but, technically since Area 88 still resisted Abdael control, they have not yet won the Civil war, Kanzaki order to his mercenary forces to destroy the mausoleum of Princess Soria, the former wife of Abdael and mother of Saki and Richard, revealing also to Abdael that he had mined the royal capital with several bombs and he will not hesitate to use them in case Abdael try to double-cross him. With little choice left, Abdael order to his forces to invade Brausa, but while the blitzkrieg operation result successful, as consequence of the invasion, the UN impose sanction to the new Aslan Kingdom, leading to a deterioration of the social life and the civilian support to the new regime. In Europe, instead, Ryoko was so shocked by Shin's phone conversation that she almost attempt to commit suicide but she is stopped by Yasuda, who convince her to renounce to her suicidal attempt and to return to Japan to forget about Shin, however surprisingly Yasuda is contacted by Juniola, who while not apologizing for her failed assassination attempt, admit to Yasuda of Kanzaki involvement in Project 4 and of his thirst of power, which make Kanzaki not reliable in Juniola's eyes, agreeing to pass information about Kanzaki deeds to Yasuda, despite admitting that she is now pregnant with his child. Meanwhile, Shin, as member of Mark III is tasked in a series of missions in order to destroy a rebel group in the state of Bambala, a small African state rich of raw mineral but led by a corrupt president who is the client of Mark III, despite the situation and the fact that sometimes, due to the rebels small number of fighter jet available, Shin is forced to fight on the ground, Shin distinguished himself with the mercenary group, eventually been promoted to the rank of commander of Mark III. Shorty after Shin's promotion, Shin is surprise to found out that McCoy has moved his activity to the African nation, explaining to him that due to the remoteness of the new area 88 location, it was almost impossible for him to procure his usual supply line for the base, therefore he has decided to move out, but he reassure Shin that thank to a stolen submarine in McCoy arsenal liminal supplies still reached Area 88. Shorty after, however the rebel attacks soon grown in sizes and more weapons started to reach rebel hand, including several modern ones, while regular army soldier started to defect to the rebel side, sensing betrayal Shin advert Mccoy of his suspicions and to prepare him for the worst. In fact a few days after, a massive coup d'état take place, displacing the president and his family, since most of the rest of administration and military has joined with rebels, Mark III is tasked with protecting and escorting the presidential family out of the country. As originally planned, the mercenary group try to cross the border but they are ambushed by the rebels, which are surprising led by a foreign mercenary unit of ten men, as result of the ambush the presidential family and Mark III are decimated, but fighting back, managing to eliminate the rebels and nine of the mercenaries, while the tenth who is the commander of the mercenary unit is captured and gravely injured by Shin, who he merciless interrogated, revealing to Shin that the unit was part of Project 4 and under the direct order of Mr. Farina (who Shin confuse probably with Giuseppe Farina, instead of Kanzaki) to assassinate them in order both to gain the raw-mineral deposit of the country and to take revenge on Shin who had interfere in their plan in the past. Executed the commander, Shin returned to the ambush site, meeting again with McCoy, who was the only other survivor of their group, while the President of Bambala is barely alive and manage to give at Shin a Swiss bank card as thanks to have avenged his family. In the meanwhile, Saki and Area 88 continue to fight against the Rebel government, however due to the diminished supplies, they are suffering from a poor state of life, forcing them to stealing supplies to the Rebel Army and using their own rebranded equipment and fighter jet to continue the War, while Saki has all the economical support from the government-in-exile and his uncle(who before leaving the country managed to escape with the treasury of the Aslan kingdom), it has been simply almost impossible to receiving constant supply of equipment, supplies, weapons, pilots and other necessities for the correct administration of the military camp. However the Rebel Aslan/Brasua War offer to Saki a chance to replenish his forces, creating a task force, led by Kim and Sera, who are now both successful ace pilot of Area 88, to capture in a shock-and-awe operation the inventory of the defeated Brasua military, which is schedule to be passed soon to the Rebel Aslan military. The operation well pass over its initial previsions thanks to Sera initiative, who, due to her previous experience as pilot of the Rebel Army, is able to liberate a POW war camp for the Brasua Air Force, which the Rebel Army had originally receive orders to execute in order to prevent any meaningful resistance from the Brasua government, in gratitude the Brasua pilots accept to join forces with Area 88, in exchange of Saki promise and that of the Aslan government-in-exile to restore Brasua's independence, once they have defeated the Rebel Army. However, while the operation allow Area 88 to replenish their previous losses and it's an huge moral boost for the base, unfortunately led also a rethinking by Kanzaki of the Area 88 danger to his plans, deciding to launch a full-scale assault to the base with all his forces of Project 4 and while the pilots of Area 88 manage to break the assault, due to the attack of the mountain base of Area 88 is destroyed, negating to the pilot a runaway where to land. Saki, who is overwhelmed by despair, it only bring to reality when a wireless contact from McCoy informed him that " Someone" has provide an Enterprise-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier to Saki and the Area 88 warriors, free of charge, which is even already equipped with a crew and carrier-based aircraft. Saki heads on and almost incredulous managed to land on the carrier follow by the remaining pilots, heading to the ship bridge, Saki meet with McCoy, who while question about the ship, continue to stick with his original story. In a flashback, it is actually revealed that after their misfortune in Africa, Shin and McCoy had manage to reach Switzerland, where Shin has found out that the bank card contain the entire year budget of Bambala, making him a billionaire, when found out by McCoy, he offer to him a deal to change his identity in order to allow him to live quietly without worry about Farina's henchmen and also an unique opportunity to help Saki and Area 88. In fact, McCoy reveal that after he decide to "abandon" Area 88, he try to look to solution to the current Area 88 mountain base logistical limitation, while searching, he had found that the US Navy, was looking for a buyer for a hull of an incomplete carrier, the twin of the USS Enterprise (in fact, despite the reference to Star Trek, the originally USS Enterprise was a World War II air-carrier that distinguished itself in its service, when the USA decide to invest in a project to create nuclear-powered carrier, they decided to name the new class Enterprise in honor of said ship, however the project for the time was considered too expensive and of the originally 6 carrier only one was completed), McCoy having analyzed the hull, found out that in truth the ship was almost completed and he thought he could profit from it by selling it to the Aslan government-in-exile, unfortunately for him, he later also found out that the Us Navy was unwilling to sold the carrier to the Aslan Kingdom to risk an international incident, while the Aslan government-in-exile didn't trust McCoy completely to go forth the acquisition. Despite so McCoy decided to buy the hull with his own money, believing that a business transaction like this would never happen again in his life and to complete the carrier little by little, however to maintain the high cost McCoy was forced to continue his activity in other war theater of the globe and therefore he elect to go to Bambala, where fortune willing he had found out about Shin, thus he could never have imagined at the time that Shin would manage to become billionaire thank to only one "little conflict". Shin realized that therefore Mc Coy presence on the African nation was no accident, but he is grateful of McCoy's plans allowing him the chance to both repay Saki for having him pardoned for his previous attempt assault and to settle at least indirectly his score with "Farina", agreeing with McCoy's proposition. Back to the carrier, Saki had his suspects but he is grateful only to have the chance to prevent Project 4 's ambitions and decide to rename the ship's name "Area 88 ", when he discovered that the ship technically had still no official name, however Saki is also informed by McCoy that the same "Someone"had informed him that the mercenaries of Project 4, want to use the New Aslan Kingdom, in spite of the possible retaliation move from the UN, as "platform" to occupy the Suez Canal, in order to control the world oil-tanks supply. Saki, realizing that such hazardous move by Project 4, would only result in the destruction of Aslan, promise to block their plan at any cost, and prepare himself to organize the new Area 88.
Meanwhile, Shin, with a new identity, has returned to Japan in order to investigate Project 4, shocked by the revelation of Yasuda, who he had accidentally met while in Europe, of Kanzaki new "ascension"as Mr. Farina (realizing better now the reason of "Mr. Farina" involment in the Bambala Civil War, as well of his last attempted assassination). At the Airport, Shin is surprised to meet an old man named Kaionji Hachibei, who invite him to a garden party. In fact, Hachibei is the new owner of Yamato Airlines, having acquire the company at low cost after Kanzaki previous downfall, however Hachibei was surprised when a previous unknown billionaire (Shin) has offered an insane amount of money in order to bought back the company and curious of the new "businessman", he had decided to invite him to the party in order to study him better. Moreover, the situation is further complicated when Shin found out that also Ryoko, who has a relationship with Hachibei, who was an old acquaintance of her father, was also invited to the garden party. Shin and Ryoko have a therefore a fateful reunion, where despite the beginning coldness between the two, eventually Shin open up, revealing to Ryoko is personal struggle and horrors he had witness and done in order to survive, as well his reluctance to return to civilian life and to her. Suddenly, a phone call from Kanzaki comes in to Shin, who reveal to him, have found out about Shin new identity, by tracing back the payment for the aircarrier he had donated to Area 88, mocking him for his lack of ambition, noting he would never have wasted such an amount for a "lost cause". In the following conversation, Kanzaki talks about his deep-rooted relationship with Shin and his revenge drama, declaring that he will destroy all the peaceful everyday life created by Shin and Ryoko, and as a souvenir, sells at a cheap price, huge stocks of a major Japanese company own by Hachibei, but quoted in Europe and in the United States, considerably hurting Hachibei's stock pocket and revealing also Shin's truth identity to him . Hachibei, who took this seriously, disguisted[clarification needed] of Shin "war founded" elevation to the business world and that Shin had hurt his stock pocket and ruin his companies, told him that he would better to him to never return to Japan, threatening him with serious repercussion, before breaking up with Ryoko. Realizing that the battle at Aslan is no longer irrelevant to him and that true peace will not come to him unless he settles his score with Kanzaki, Shin decided to return to crushing hell to Area 88. Through McCoy, Shin create another new identity, in order to reenlist in the Aslan Mercenary Forces. Ryoko is disappointed when she learns of Shin's decision, but she is no more silent and is prepared to face the "fight of a woman" to support Shin's battle, reconciling with him, who before his departure donate all his remaining money to Ryoko, as an apology of his previous let down, but, asking her to use the money for "something truly worthy".
Concurrently, Saki decided that Area 88 will do everything in its power to prevent the invasion of Suez by Project 4, in order to prevent the invasion, Saki plans to rebuild the old Area 88 , since the residual radiations of the land carrier have subsided, in order to use it as forward base in the upcoming battles with the ultimate goal to eventually reclaim the Royal Capital . While inspecting his former base, Saki suffer an hallucination (unclear for the hot temperature or the still lingering radiations) where he meets the ghost of Hoover who died there, who sadly predict to Saki that at war end, he shall go to the Netherworld with seven of Saki's most trusted subordinates. Returned to the air carrier, Saki is surprised to find out about Shin's return, who is even equipped with a state-of-the-art warplane, a F20A Tigershark, but before he can ask further question, Shin is assaulted by Mickey, who in rage (and in part out of jealousy), raise his hand against Shin, when the fight is put to an end by Saki, Mickey admit that he hit Shin because he didn't want that his best friend returned to experience the same hell as himself, revealing also that him and Sera were in a mutual feeling relationship that promised a future but, seeing Shin returning to area 88 recalled him of when returning to the States after the Vietnam War he had difficulty to readjust to civilian life. Understanding him, Shin forgive Mickey but, also reveal to his friend what he had found out about Project 4, especially of Kanzaki's involment, telling to his friends, what he meant for him to joining the battle and the purpose of defeating Kanzaki's ambitions. Area 88, united at last, discourages and prevent the invasion of Suez. As result, a series of air and naval battle happen between Area 88 and the forces of Project 4, which, despite the fact that Kanzaki remount his efforts and intensified the military attacks, eventually the situation on the Suez canal end in a tactical stalemate to Kanzaki, but soon he found out that de-facto, he had lost on the strategic front. In fact, while the Battle of Suez rage on, Ryoko had used Yasusa's information on Kanzaki and Shin's money not only to reveal the true ambitions of Project 4 and of Kanzaki involment but, also to effective organized an effective protest campaign against the companies that support Project 4, since the UN and the international community in general were already worried about the violent escalation in the area these have the effect to intensified the already imposed sanction on Aslan and also the other companies involved. As result, not only Kanzaki found out that his influence had been sensibly reduced but, also had increased the internal frustration of the New Aslan Kingdom, which due to the repeated wars of aggression and the heavily involvement of foreign mercenary, even the New Aslan Kingdom Army (the former Rebel Aslan Army) grown with dissatisfaction among the ranks. Saki, shrewdly use the internal situation at his advantage, organizing a coup d'état while declaring himself (almost ironically) an anti-government guerrilla, until the coup occurs with Aslan Rebel soldiers in sync with Area 88, with the purpose of destroying the forces of Project 4, even Greg take a small part for himself, giving an heroically speech to the insurgents, who he had in fact heard previously when he was briefly enlisted in the French Foreign Legion.
The final showdown is finally here and Saki orders the members of Area 88 to make the final sortie with the aim of regaining the royal capital using the original Area 88 as forward base, he also announce that he will participate in the battle, while Roundel decide to remain on the air-carrier in order to use it as recon and supply base for the operation, as well as "second line defense" in case things goes sour. Despite Roundel's consideration and Saki's skill, Saki is shot down near the royal palace and despite surviving, Shin decide to eject from his plane in order to support Saki, while so, also Greg is forced to eject from his plane after a low-altitude bombing to support ground troops, but unfortunately is run over by a coupist truck who fail to stop in time, meanwhile all pilot are shocked to receive the news that while protecting the air-carrier from incoming anti-ship missile, Roundel has been killed in action. Realizing an ominous premonition of Greg and Roundel's death, Sera, with whom Saki had confided his previous hallucination of Hoover, recalls Mickey to be caution, who instead was trying to identify Mack personal Mig-23 in order to settle his score with him, but an enemy plane is able to use Sera and Mickley's distraction to intercept them both, while Sera is able to quickly respond and shot down rapidly the boogie, the debris of plane engulf both hers and Mickley's plane causing them to explode, only Kim manage to survive the ordeal, since while Kim's Harrier was also damaged by the explosion, thank to the VTOL abilities of his plane, he manage to land, despite still shocked and saddened by their deaths. Simultaneously, Kanzaki who was at time residing in the capital, tried to escape by a secure route, while ordering his troops to launch a ballistic missile against the oil reserve of Aslan in order both to reduce the country to ash and to use the subsequent confusion to fake his own death and create a new identity for himself, in order to escape the UN investigation, however surprisingly Kanzaki is stopped by Abdael who mock Kanzaki telling him that he is less clever that he think he is, revealing that while Kazaki was plotting his personal ambitions, Abdael had acquired a informatics virus, which he had used to infect the mainframe of Project 4, thank to it, Abdael had found all Kanzaki's secrets; including his secret account and deals, the fact that his identity as "Mr. Farina" is false, that his threat of the bombs in the capital is faithless and in particular that he had fabricated evidence of Mack's daughter wellbeing in order to maintain his loyalty, while she instead was already death, revealing that he also already sent all the relevant information to the Un, the Interpol and Mack. Infuriated, Kanzaki order to a nearby mercenary soldier to shot Abdael, while he tried to contact Juniola with a satellite phone, but no one answer, meanwhile using Kanzaki's commanding frequency, Mack (who evidently was in liege with Abdael) order to his subordinates and to the other soldiers to escape in contravention of Kanzaki previous order, while he destroy the command module of the ballistic missile. Only at the moment, Kanzaki realized that he had been play out and that his army no longer existed, without mention his riches and now he is mostly likely entrapped in the capital city with no way out, panicking heading on to the airport, where he hope he can steal one of the parked plane. Shorty after, Kim who has got lost while trying to reach Shin and Saki, who he had previous seen them eject, stump upon Abdael, who despite been gravely injured, is still alive, therefore Kim use an emergency flare to call upon a rescue helicopter, due to light, Abdael recognize that he had unknowingly confronted Kanzaki just before the ruins of the mausoleum of his wife, Sofia where he is subsequently confronted both by Saki and Shin, who thank to Kim's flare manage to reach their location. Abdael realizing that his time is ending finally reconciled with Saki before dying, but Saki surprising everyone embraced his father's corpse and entered the ruins of the mausoleum, where despite Shin's plea, he commit suicide. Shin, who wanted to build a peaceful Aslan centered on the intelligent Saki, loses himself at the unexpected end of Saki, telling Kim to contact Roundel for sit-rep of the situation, Kim, realizing that Shin doesn't know, informed him of the death of several of their friends. At that time, a communication from Kanzaki arrives. Kanzaki, who had shot the traitor Mack at the airport and stole his plane only to realize that the plane is low on fuel, contact Shin asking for a single air combat duel, unwilling to let him win.
Shin shakes off Kim who is trying to stop him and sorties out with Kim's Harrier, where over the original Area 88, he is confronted with Mack's Mig-23 piloted by Kanzaki. Under the deep blue sky of Aslan, Shin and Kanzaki, who have a deep-rooted connection, fight each other. Despite his deep grudge, Shin realize that he is unable to emotionally kill Kanzaki, until Shin's survival skills kick in and he instinctively shoot down Kanzaki's aircraft, killing him, while Shin manage to land despite his plane catching fire on Area 88 runaway, thus Shin is injured in the following explosion of the plane. Almost three months later, Shin has recover from his injuries while residing in the Royal Capital hospital, however his surviving mind remove most of his war experience in Aslan, feeling lost, Shin is reunited with Ryoko, who she help to return together in Japan and Kim, who due to his service for the country has been officially made an proper officer of the Reconstituted Aslan Kingdom, sees him off at the airport, thus Shin unconsciously recognize that somehow many more are missing. While on the plane, Shin red on the newspaper that the Aslan Civil War is officially over, with King Zaku meeting with the new Brausa ambassador of Aslan to discuss the reconstruction of both countries. When the plane start Shin see the porthole of the plane and his fellow passengers, thinking: "I'm not among you anymore, and neither with my friends who fought with me". Leaving Aslan behind and returning home.
This section possibly contains original research. (March 2019)
Area 88 is usually placed during the late 1970s, or early 1980s, although evidence points towards the latter in the OVA's case. First, during Act 1 of the OVA when the calendar in Shin's room is first seen, Shin marks off the date Wednesday, April 11. Then, during the flashback where Shin unknowingly signs the contract from Kanzaki, the date on the contract reads 'le 29 avril 1979' or April 29, 1979. Based on the calendar marking, it is some point past 1979, and the nearest year where April 11 falls on a Wednesday is 1984. Secondly, the OVA featured the F/A-18 Hornet, which entered service in 1983. From the OVA's conclusion it is reasonable to suggest the end date is sometime in early 1986, given Shin's term in Arslan (two years, five months). However, this is directly contradicted by a scene in the third part of the OVA in which we see a calendar in Shin's room during his discharge, on Monday, Sept. 22, 1982. It is more likely that the animators were in error, both about the days of the week, and about the date of service of the F/A-18 (although its predecessor, the YF-17 could explain the date inconsistency, considering the similarity of design). They had made a similar error with the F-14 Tomcat in the second part of the OVA, depicting the F-14 in a bombing run over Vietnam, when the plane did not see actual combat and was not capable of air-to-ground attack until the 1990s (however, it did participate in the American withdrawal from Saigon by providing fighter escort to the helicopters carrying fleeing refugees).
Each version of the Area 88 told slightly different variations on the same basic premise, and often shared individual story arcs. However, there are several key differences between each version, especially in the endings.
The original manga ending had Shin returning to Japan, but having lost all memory of Area 88. The English-language version published by Eclipse Comics was left unfinished and incomplete: Shin does not return to Japan. The rebels, operating unmanned fighter jets from a giant, mobile base - a "land-carrier" - have targeted Area-88 with a nuclear-armed, computer controlled drilling machine. Saki, meanwhile, has acquired an American B-1B bomber armed with nuclear weapons.
The first three-episode OVA adaptation from 1985 had Shin return to Area 88 in his F-20 fighter while the Area was being overrun by a devastating massive force of anti-government Mig-21 jets. His fate and those of Saki, Mickey, Greg and some other pilots is left uncertain.
The 2004 anime series truncated the story to just after Shin lost his F-5E, but in that continuity Shinjou, the photographer, manages to return to Japan just in time to derail Kanzaki's plot to marry Ryoko. The series also introduced the permanent characters of Kim, from the manga, and Saki's cousin Kitori, who appeared in the manga as Seilane Balnock.
Despite the consistent use of existing aircraft, the manga - unlike the anime adaptations - introduced, as the series progressed, a number of elements that may have been considered science fiction at the time but at least used existing technology. Such devices include a land-based aircraft carrier with its fleet of AI-controlled F/A-18 fighters. A rebel weapon called the Grand Slam is basically a ballistic missile modified with a drill machine. There was also other exotic weaponry, none of which appeared in either anime adaptation.
The original Japanese manga of Area 88 was serialized in 23 volumes between 1979 and 1986 by Shogakukan. Each volume was black and white with a painted color cover and contained several short stories called "missions." In all, there were 172 such missions across the 23 volumes. Shōnen Sunday later repackaged the 23 volumes into ten thick books under its Wide Volume product line.
Area 88, along with Mai, the Psychic Girl and The Legend of Kamui, was one of the first three manga to be translated to English and published in North America by Eclipse Comics and VIZ Media in May 1987. It was published bi-weekly with each issue containing a single mission, of which the editors had planned to release all 172. The first 28 issues featured covers from the original manga plus some original artwork by Shintani, but as these resources were limited, the covers of issues #29-36 featured stills from the OVA film. With issue #37 in December 1988, VIZ Media took over the series, and in addition to featuring photographs of actual fighter jets on the cover, the publication went from bi-weekly to monthly and the price from $1.50 to $1.75. The series did not adjust well to the dramatic change, and with issue #42 in May 1989, without resolving the storyline, it was canceled. It was later run as a feature in Viz's Animerica Magazine, but only lasted until January 1995 without the series being completed.
Between February 5, 1985, and August 15, 1986, Studio Pierrot produced a direct-to-video animated film trilogy for VHS and laserdisc. In 1986, Warner Bros. released the OVA series, subtitled in English, in North America for VHS and laserdisc, and re-released the first volume for DVD on 14 July 2000.
Warner Bros. published a two episode theatrical edit of the OVA trilogy for DVD on 25 July 2006. Although having one less episode, the episodes themselves are longer. They have been reedited so that episode II is divided and added onto the first and the last episode respectively. As such, nothing is actually missing from the ADV collection, despite having a smaller episode count. The 2006 ADV collection is a two-DVD set, and features the original Japanese soundtrack as well as the dubbed English track, performed by the same cast who voiced the English dub of the TV series. The DVD content also includes an interview with Kaoru Shintani, and an introduction to the fighter jets portrayed in the series.
- Area 88: Act I: Blue Skies of Betrayal (1985, VHS/LD; 1992, VHS; July 14, 2000, DVD)
- Area 88: Act II: The Requirements of Wolves (1985, VHS/LD; 1992, VHS)
- Area 88: Act III: Burning Mirage (1986, VHS/LD; 1992, VHS)
- Area 88: Original OVA Series (July 25, 2006, DVD)
An updated 12-episode anime television series with CG graphics, produced by Animax, Group TAC and Media Factory, began production in 2003 and premiered across Japan on the anime satellite television network, Animax from 8 January 2004 – 5 March 2004, who later aired the series across its other respective networks worldwide, including Hong Kong, Southeast Asia, South Asia, South Korea, Taiwan and other regions. The series featured the work of several prominent contemporary trance music artists during combat scenes, such as Rank 1, DJ Tiësto, and Svenson & Gielen. Warner Bros. licensed the series for North American distribution, releasing the series across the region, with the first DVD volume release being published on June 22, 2005 and the last volume being released on January 17, 2006. The DVD release notably removed the licensed trance music, replacing it with a handful of original compositions by Miyake Kazunori reused across the series. For the release of the English dub to English-speaking countries, the ADR team at ADV Films sought the assistance of Capt. Kevin "Dumpster" Divers, a USAF officer, to ensure that dialogue had proper Air Force jargon.
A shoot 'em up video game by Capcom was released in the arcades in 1989. It was released in the West as UN Squadron. Ports were released for the Amiga, Amstrad CPC, Atari ST, Commodore 64, Super NES and ZX Spectrum.
In the game, the player could choose either Shin, Mickey, or Greg as the pilot to play. Each came with a different plane and various advantages; for example, Mickey could handle air-to-air dogfights well while Greg excelled at air-to-ground attacks. Each pilot also had special abilities; Shin mastered normal weaponry at the highest speed, Mickey inflicted extra damage with his armaments, and Greg recovered from attacks almost before they occurred. The Super NES release offered six fighter planes, with the F-8 Crusader as the default aircraft. The game also included various elements from the series, such as the land carrier.
An October 2014 crossover update for Ace Combat: Infinity added new aircraft used by the main characters of Area 88 in the game.
Two special board games based on the franchise were released in the 1980s, but as so-called "Coterie" games, which are preordered editions and only go on limited sale at Japan's Game Market trade show. With mechanics based on the GDW board game Imperium, the Area 88 in Desert War and Peace in the Aslan Kingdom have the game counters, instructions and battle map (a fictional representation of the Sinai Peninsula) printed in standard bond paper, with players left to cut up the counters and attach them and the map in cardstock.
A line of Area 88 model kits was also produced, which are basically aircraft that are painted as they appeared in the series. Takara released a 1/100 line of aircraft kits, each with a 1/24 pilot figure in the early 1980s to coincide with the original manga stories. Kits included Shin's Crusader, F-5G Tiger II and F-20 Tigershark, Mickey's F-100 and F-14, Saki's Kfir, Greg's A-10 and two planes from the Counter-Governmental Air Force - a Yak-36 Forger and a Mig-27 Flogger-D.
The first release of 1/144 kits by Hasegawa in the early 1990s consisted of Mickey's F-14, Shin's F-8 and F-5, Seilane Balnock's Harrier, and Saki Vashtar's Kfir. Each kit had a 1/12 scale figure of the pilot in resin while the 1/144 plane kits were styrene plastic tooled up by Dragon models in Hong Kong. The third wave, released by Hasegawa in 1996, featured 1/72 kits of the same jets, but this time Hasegawa's own kit moldings were used. They comprised Saki's Kfir, Gregg's A-10, Shin's F-8, F-20, X-29 and Draken, and Mickey's F-14. Hasegawa also produced a 1/48 two-pack set in line with the 2004 TV series, consisting of Shin's F-8 and Mickey's F-14, plus a DVD.
From January 2004 to December 2005, trading figure company The Other Corp released a line of 1/144 gashapon miniatures of various modern military aircraft that are painted as according to their actual appearance in the series, despite one of the offerings - the Su-47 Berkut - never having appeared at all.
- Area 88 Opening Theme: Mission - Fuga
|1.||"Mission (FUGA) (TV size)"|
|8.||"The Anthem 2003"|
|19.||"Out of the Blue (Mauro Picotto Remix)"|
|20.||"Flowers of One Wheel"|
|23.||"Speed of Sound"|
|26.||"Symsonic (Vocal Mix)"|
|32.||"Sun Also Rises"|
|34.||"Angels Theme (G-Aria) (TV size)"|
|35.||"Dance in the Battlefield (TV size)"|
|7.||"On the Move (DuMonde Remix)"|
|10.||"A Hell on Earth"|
|13.||"Spread Your Wings"|
|14.||"Step By Step"|
|24.||"We Know What You Did"|
|26.||"Dance in the Battlefield (English Version)"|
|1.||"Mission (FUGA) (Original Extended Mix)"|
|3.||"The Anthem 2003"|
|4.||"Out of the Blue (Mauro Picotto Remix)"|
|5.||"Symsonic (Vocal Mix)"|
|9.||"Angels Theme (G-Aria) (Wippenberg Dub)"|
|11.||"We Know What You Did"|
|13.||"On the Move (DuMonde Remix)"|
|14.||"Spread Your Wings"|
|15.||"Mission (FUGA) (Rock in Heaven Mix)"|
|16.||"Angels Theme (G-Aria) (Cyber Trance Mix)"|
This section needs expansion. You can help by adding to it. (October 2012)
Martin A. Stever reviewed Area 88 Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer No. 83. Stever commented that "The art is impressive, especially the ability to render moving jet aircraft. True to real war, characters are killed with regularity but not without remorse."
Anime News Network praised Area 88's English dub released by ADV, especially with most of it done with the assistance of a consultant from the US Air Force. Freetype gave the series a 7.0 out of 10, citing "Intense, fast, adrenaline-pumping dogfight action", while criticizing it for being one-dimensional for lack of some character development, lack of emphasis on action with the morals and drama watered down.
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- エリア88 [Area 88] (in Japanese). Japanese Movie Database. Archived from the original on March 14, 2013. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
- 小学館漫画賞：歴代受賞者 (in Japanese). Shogakukan. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved August 19, 2007.
- "Navy retires F-14, the coolest of cold warriors". USA Today. September 22, 2006. Retrieved April 25, 2010.
- Kaoru Shintani. コミックスリスト2 (in Japanese). Retrieved February 10, 2009.
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- "第325回 1986年のOVA" (in Japanese). Anime Style. Retrieved June 10, 2013.
- "ADV Announces July 25 Releases". May 23, 2006. Archived from the original on October 20, 2006. Retrieved May 30, 2006.
- "ADV Deploys Area 88 July 19". Anime News Network. June 22, 2005. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
- "Gantz 10 Leads Off ADV's Jan 17 Releases". Anime News Network. December 17, 2005. Archived from the original on February 25, 2009. Retrieved February 10, 2009.
- "A Few Words from the ADR Director". ADV Films. Archived from the original on December 21, 2005. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 1, 2008. Retrieved May 5, 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Release "エリア88 SOUND FILE 1" by 三宅一徳". MusicBrainz. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "Vol. 2-Area 88 Sound File: Japanimation: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- "Area 88 Mission Cyber Trance: Japanimation: Amazon.co.uk: Music". Amazon.co.uk. Retrieved January 14, 2012.
- Stever, Martin A. (October–November 1988). "The Ruler". Space Gamer/Fantasy Gamer. World Wide Wargames (83): 28.
- Theron Martin (August 19, 2005). "Area 88 DVD 1 Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved October 28, 2012.
- "Area 88 (エリア88)". Freetype. Archived from the original on August 13, 2007. Retrieved October 28, 2012.