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The Cockpit (ザ・コクピット Za Kokupitto?) is a World War II anthology film based on Leiji Matsumoto's Battlefield manga. The animated shorts are written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, Takashi Imanishi and Ryousuke Takahashi.

Kawajiri's Slipstream follows a Luftwaffe pilot on his mission to protect Germany's trump card: the world's first atomic bomb. Imanishi's Sonic Boom Squadron explores the last hours of an Ohka pilot on August 6, 1945. Takahashi's Knight of the Iron Dragon tells the story of two Japanese soldiers in Leyte as they attempt to keep a promise.

Plot

Slipstream

A disgraced German fighter pilot is assigned to escort a captured American B-17 bomber carrying his childhood sweetheart, her scientist father and a fearsome secret cargo - a Nazi atom bomb. The night before the mission the pilot's sweetheart begs him to let enemy planes destroy the bomber before the cargo can be used, even though she and her father will die with it. After shooting down two of three attackers, the pilot allows the third to destroy the bomber.

Sonic Boom Squadron

On August 5, 1945, a Japanese force of Betty bombers, each carrying an Ohka and escorted by Zero fighters, attempts a raid on an American aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific Ocean. As the raiders are attacked by American carrier-based aircraft, Ensign Nogami, a young Ohka pilot, demands to be launched in his Ohka, but his Betty's crew refuses. The bomber is destroyed, throwing Nogami into space. He survives the failed raid and is able to return to base, where he meets the crew of the Betty who will fly him on a mission the following day, as well as two surviving Zero pilots who vow to help him succeed in his mission if it costs them their lives. On board the American carrier, the pilots receive news from their captain that the attacking Betties were carrying Ohkas.

The next day, August 6, the Japanese attempt a second raid on the same battle group. An intense aerial fight ensues as the American carrier aircraft attempt to thwart the raiders from launching their Ohkas. Nogami's bomber is heavily damaged and almost destroyed, but is saved by the intervention of one of the Zero pilots, who crashes his aircraft into a pursuing F6F Hellcat. This enables the bomber to get within visual range of the battle group, and Nogami is launched in his Ohka just before the bomber disintegrates. He flies through a wall of anti-aircraft fire thrown up by the escorting vessels and crashes into the American aircraft carrier. Just before the carrier explodes, the battle group's commander receives word that an atomic bomb has just been dropped on Hiroshima.

Knight of the Iron Dragon

Two soldiers attempt to reach an air base in order to fulfill a promise despite the fact that it might have been rendered moot in the reality of war.

Home Video Release

Originally brought to North America on VHS, the anthology has yet to be released on DVD. However, it's not clear whether the niche appeal of the content in general, its controversial "positive" portrayal of Axis fighters, or the loss of the license, or all of the above, are the culprits behind its lack of a transition to DVD. It was available in that format in Japan, however. But it's out-of-print there, as well.

Manga Publication

While there is no official North American release of the manga, Frederik L. Schodt included a translated excerpt of the series in his Manga! Manga! guide.

External links

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