The series is set in the late 1970s/early 1980s in a war-torn Middle Eastern county known as the Kingdom of Aslan. The war is fought with mercenary fighter pilots at a secret desert base called Area 88, which is commanded by Saki Vashutal (the Aslanian prince). Shin Kazama, an up-and-coming fighter pilot from Japan, is tricked into signing a three-year contract by his "friend" Satoru Kanzaki. Since Shin could face execution if he deserts from Area 88 before the end of his contract, he reluctantly becomes a fighter pilot. By becoming a fighter pilot, Shin can either survive for the three years, or pay off a 1.5 million USD contract in bounties. Shin's best friend at Area 88 is an American named Mick Simon, who couldn't readjust to normal life after serving his tour of duty in the Vietnam War.
There are other characters to be found at Area 88 as well. McCoy is a greedy weapons dealer who sells everything from toilet paper to planes to the mercenaries serving at the base. Photographer Rocky (who is known as Makoto Shinjou in the remake series) takes pictures of the action going on in the warzone. Danish pilot Greg Gates is another one of the mercenaries serving at Area 88.
The themes of Area 88 focus heavily on the Vietnam War and on those who served in that conflict. This includes the psychological state of the base's mercenaries, which is depicted by these men having difficulties in getting their lives back to normal after serving in a warzone.
Area 88 has a very interesting premise behind it, and I think a 12 episode series works best for the story being told. Anything more than that would potentially drag out the story. The animation in the 2004 remake series is actually rather well done, and the mecha look realistic enough without the animators trying to force obvious CG images into the production.
With the subject matter in Area 88, I would not recommend this series for very young viewers. And I also think that a male audience would have more of an interest in this property than a female audience would. Personally, I would recommend this series to anime viewers who are 14 or 15 years of age and older.
|Area 88||3||1985-1986||Hisayuki Toriumi||Studio Pierrot||N/A|
|Area 88||12||2004||Isamu Imagake||Group TAC||ADV Films|