5 stars means it’s truly exceptional, worth special consideration.
Although certain genres of media are more predisposed to profoundness, usually the very sober, certain obscure animated shows from Japan (‘anime’) are as well. In fact there’s a correlation between absurdity and refreshing departure from the stereotype of anime, and they merit a nuanced appraisal.
However, esoteric foreign language shows are more difficult to assess and one might be tempted to pick an easier exemplar for their first review. Not me! My personal preferences have always leaned towards more challenging content and so here I embark.
Battle Fairy Yukikaze (戦闘妖精雪風, Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze) is one of the greatest ‘diamonds in the rough’ that I’ve ever seen.
Originally released as an ‘Original Animated Video’ (OAV) in 2002 by Bandai Visual as a lavish showpiece for an anniversary celebration, and given an excellent english dub somewhat later by Bandai’s North American subsidiary, Yukikaze suprisingly remains the foremost reference work for animated modern aerial combat. It quite literally has the best rendered depiction of any publicly available animation. Yes even as of 2021. It was based on a novel that was briefly popular in Japan and sunk into obscurity after.
I could write several essays on the technical merits of the show, both in style and in conetent, though I will leave that to the real experts. Of course as there hasn’t been a real high intensity conflict involving modern jets the idea of what is ‘most realistic’ is somewhat vague. But a good rule of thumb for judging any on screen depiction of combat is whether the motion and inertia of every actor is correctly portrayed. For aerial combat especially, G-forces and their attendant effects are rarely done right.
To be clear the premise is quite absurd, the main opponents are shapeshifting creatures on another planet. But somehow the animators managed to give the scenes a more realistic weight than even the latest blockbusters.
Below is one of the more memorable combat scenes in the japanese original. An english language release is also available, but not on youtube.
As of writing the series is available for free in certain regions on Tubi. The usual retailers carry physical copies for a reasonable price.