Region: 1 - North America
Volume: 1 of 2
Length: 75 minutes
English 2.0 Stereo
English 5.1 Surround
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 5.1 Surround
33 years ago a strange alien force invaded Antarctica via a mysterious hyperspace portal, and proceeded to attack the forces of earth without the general publics knowledge. To counter this threat, the United Nations formed a military task force under their control to combat this alien menace, and using the latest technology in air combat, drive the invaders back beyond the portal into the realm of the planet that they have named 'Fairy'.
However the war has not stopped at driving the enemy back. The war on the planet Fairy rages on and caught up in it is Lt. Rei Fukai, a pilot in the elite Special Air Force (SAF) and pilot of Yukikaze, an advanced plane with an almost sentient computer system controlling it. It seems that all is normal fighting against the enemy, named JAM, but everything is far from normal. On a seeming routine reconnaissance run, Yukikaze designates what seems to be a friendly aircraft as an enemy and Lt. Fukai shoots it down. Suddenly it appears that the JAM may have infiltrated the SAF and that Yukikaze may be the only weapon that can stop them.
The animation is a mix of strangely washed-out and bleak looking standard animation with astounding air combat scenes lovingly rendered in CG. This style provides an unusual contradiction and helps heighten the difference between the more exiting air combat scenes and the more subtle, more human interactions between the characters on the ground. Interestingly enough the sound mirrors the intonations of the animation, with the ground scenes enveloped in quiet, moody music while the air battles are silent. While the dub is of a high quality, there are certain scenes that only really make sense when the subtitles are turned on as certain phrases are not translated exactly and some of the subtle nuances are lost.
The characters, especially Rei and his best friend/commanding officer Cmdr. Bukhar are sombre and quiet, leaving the series operating at quite a slow pace, and while leaving the relationships between them is mostly unspoken and reliant on the imagery of their surroundings, the focus is definitely on the strange relationship between pilot and plane.
Overall, Yukikaze is as serious as a major accident; there is not even the slightest glint of humour throughout. One of the focal points of the series is the familiar subject of whether humans or machines should fight a war, and more than that, even when your enemy is totally alien to you, a monster, is it not possible that you are creating monsters of your own by fighting them on their own terms? The real beauty of the series lies in the dogfight sequences and other CG rendered elements. It is quite obvious that there has been one hell of a lot of money thrown at the computer designed elements of the series, at they are beyond stunning and while intriguing, the plot seems almost a means to an end to get the plane into focus rather than the centre of the storyline.
Yukikaze is serious, and may not appeal to anyone who simply wishes a few minutes of entertainment and to just enjoy themselves, however, to those who like their complex air combat in the style of Macross Plus (this series has the same mechanical designer), or a slow thought provoking, and intense drama between interesting characters, it may well be worth your while giving Yukikaze a go.