Sentou Yousei Yukikaze (戦闘妖精・雪風, lit. Battle Fairy Yukikaze) is a five-episode OVA series produced by Gonzo and Bandai Visual and was released in Japan from August 28, 2002 to August 25, 2005. It is based on a popular science fiction novel of the same name by Chōhei Kanbayashi, and was produced in commemoration of Bandai Visual's 20th anniversary. It was also later aired in Japan on the anime television network Animax, who later aired in its English language networks across Southeast Asia and other networks worldwide. A live action adaptation is currently under development under Warner Broters and is set to star Tom Cruise.Yukikaze occurs in the near future. Some decades ago, an alien force known as the JAM invaded Earth through a dimensional portal that appeared over Antarctica. The United Nations established a defense force to oppose the threat and after a series of bloody battles, managed to push the enemy back to the other side of the portal, which is a planet named "Fairy" by the humans. However, the battle still rages on. The main character, Rei Fukai, pilots the Super Sylph B-503 fighter, nicknamed "Yukikaze", an advanced armed tactical reconnaissance plane equipped with a near-sentient AI computer system, and belongs to the Special Air Force (SAF), the strategic recon wing of Fairy Air Force (FAF).In April 2013, a live-action film adaptation of the series was announced, with Tom Cruise attached to the project.
Played unsettlingly straight in Operation 02, where the TS-X1 unmanned fighter baits the JAM to fire missiles at itself, then pulls a Wronski Feint by letting those missiles hit another plane, killing 4 pilots. No, it did not go haywire: its orders were to protect Yukikaze, which was unarmed because of a training exercise, and it was doing exactly what it was programmed to do.
In the novels, the SAF Strategic Computer runs an analysis, and decides that it's ultimate priority is defending itself, and that protecting the personnel and equipment of the SAF and FAF fulfills that role. It also rejects an offer of alliance from the JAM.
Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Banshees. Judging by the names, there are at least four of them, though only Banshee III and Banshee IV are seen. Banshee IV is taken over by the JAM and so is nuked by the FAF, while Banshee III leads the evacuation back to Earth.
Alien Sky: This one's green and has two suns. Or so we're led to believe.
The really really bad spin-off Tasukete, Mave-chan! in which the various aircraft are represented by... you'll never guess... cute girls.
Attack Drone: The Fairy Air Force makes abundant use of these. One of the themes of the show is whether or not war can be fought entirely with machines and AIs instead of with humans. This featured much more prominently in the novel, where the FAF and Systems Corps are eagerly pushing for massed UCAV deployment, which the SAF resists.
Bilingual Bonus / Genius Bonus: For anyone who actually understands air force parlance, the series air combat scenes were developed with the help of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force, so a lot of the radio chatter is what you'd actually hear in an air combat situation.
Bizarre Alien Biology: We never get to see real JAMs other than their ships or their fake humans, some of whom weren't even aware that they were fake for a while.
Blatant Lies: In the backstory, the SAF was able to secure funding for the Super Sylph because it was ostensibly a modified Sylphid. The actual aircraft was an entirely new design. This is actually Truth in Television since a number of real life combat aircraft "variants" were developed this way. See Loophole Abuse.
The people of Earth think the war against the JAM is not their issue to deal with. It has been going on for over 30 years in a location that nobody on Earth can even remotely imagine. Add to that that the FAF has almost no oversight at all, and it's no wonder why by this point, the majority of people on Earth think the JAM don't even exist and that the FAF is planning a rebellion to overthrow the United Nations.
This is shown more clearly in the novel, where one chapter has Rei playing babysitter to a Jerkass pundit from Earth who has come to Faery to do a story on the FAF. He starts off utterly convinced that the JAM war is fake and is a ploy to arm the FAF for their global revolution. He very quickly changes his mind once he actually encounters the JAM.
In the novels, Rei spends a short furlough on Earth, and cannot find a single scrap of information about Fairy or the War there. He suspects it's because JAM have already infiltrated Earth.
Can't Catch Up: How the FAF views the conflict. Every advance they make is copied and countered by the JAM. this is because JAM have infiltrated the FAF.
Cargo Ship: Even partially lampshaded and deconstructed in-universe.
Chekhov's Gun: A small one in Operation 2: engine trouble. Griffon Leader can't dogfight due to engine trouble with his FA-2; minutes later Yukikaze aborts its strafing run on TAB-15 and RTBs due to engine trouble. Later while dogfighting with JAM during DACT with TS-X1, the same engine trouble rears its head.
In Operation 3, Yukikaze activates its JAM sensor jammer, displaying what Jack identifies as a warning pattern. That's because Tom "Tomahawk" John is standing right next to it.
Savvy viewers will realize that the JAM-copy killed by the Military Police in the last episode is a copy of Richard Burgadish, who is supposed to be KIA all the way back in Episode 1.
Cloning Blues: Yukikaze clones herself by making a copy of herself into the FRX-99 prototype and then ordering it to destroy the original.
And then JAM makes a shadow copy of Rei to pilot Copy Sylph, however it fails to make an actual copy of Yukikaze.
Coming In Hot: In Operation 4, after Rei and Yukikaze travel to Earth and defeat the 3 JAM that followed him through the portal.
Operation 5 shows the aftermath of this, the burned-out hulk of a crashed AWACS that botched a landing on Banshee-III.
Conspicuous CG: Although to be fair it's some of the best ever seen in anime. It looks damn good even 5-8 years after its release.
Conveniently Unverifiable Cover Story: The JAM are very careful in selecting the people that they make clones of. All their clones are of humans who are currently or have in the past been out of touch with FAF headquarters for significant periods of time, and thus HQ should have no reason to suspect them of being sleepers. These include Tomahawk John, Richard Burgadish, and Rei.
Cool Plane: Just about every plane in the series, but especially the titular Yukikaze.
Cool Guns: The FAF's standard-issue weapons are apparently the Glock 17 pistol and P90 personal defense weapon.
Cover Identity Anomaly: The Copy Rei & Super Sylph that appear at the end of Operation 04 has one big tipoff that it's a fake: the side of the copy Sylph indicates the copy's rank as "2nd Lieutenant." However, at this point in the series, the real Rei Fukai has already been promoted to 1st Lieutenant. Presumably, the JAM are working with the information they obtained in the first episode, which is now outdated.
Creative Sterility: The JAM are heavily implied to have this; any new advances in technology and tactics they make are copied from whatever the FAF comes up with.
Death by Adaptation: Tomahawk John dies in both the book and anime, but for different reasons. In the OVA, he realizes he is a JAM clone and chooses to die on the doomed Banshee-IV airship. In the novel, he also dies on Banshee-IV, but it's because he is ambushed by the JAM and has his mechanical heart torn out of his body.
Dream Sequence: Both Rei and Jack have them, involving Yukikaze as an actual fairy.
Fanservice: Given how gritty and dark the show is as a whole, it's slightly remarkable it has anything like this, and the closest we get is Captain Foss, the base doctor and psychiatrist, who shows some leg and bares her midriff.
Fighter Launching Sequence: There's one during Operation One. The sequence shows Yukikaze being moved from her underground hangar to the airfield, with the actual launch taking place in a moment.
A more traditional sequence is seen in Operation 4, as the Admiral Isoroku scrambles its air wing to intercept the JAM fighters.
Frickin' Laser Beams: The Free Electron Laser Unit attached to Yukikaze and the FRX-99s for the final battle.
Gainax Ending: The show ends with Lyn Jackson seeing Rei's ghost next to Jack, although he himself is unaware of Rei's presence. After the credits end, we're treated to an extra scene where it seems the afterlife, for Rei, consists of being sent out on missions by Jack. Heck, you cannot even tell if he actually died, Ascended to a Higher Plane of Existence or what! However, the Analysis page attempts to clear this up a bit.
Genius Loci: Fairy. Even in-universe, it's speculated that the planet itself could be JAM.
Government Conspiracy: 30+ years after the attempted invasion, most people in the human world treat the JAM as a sort of urban legend/fiction. And as it turns out, the war against the JAM on Fairy has basically turned into a human invasion of Fairy for military and monetary gains, and is used by Earth nations to further their own individual interests.
Yukikaze herself as well. Once she's in the FRX-00 airframe. This is due to her being called a monster by both Jack and Rei due to her new looks. It takes Rei manually inputting some codes to hard-reset the engine to break her out of it.
Just Plane Wrong: The FFR-31MR/D Super Sylph is a plausible design, not so much for some of the designs introduced later in the series.
Ironically in the novels, the Super Sylph design is derived from the F-15 STOL/MTD, an actual USAF experimental craft.
The creators specifically made Yukikaze as un-aerodynamic as possible to emphasize how advanced its technology was.
Partially Truth in Television - modern fighter aircraft are deliberately designed to be as unstable as possible as it enhances their maneuverability. Without the fly-by-wire computers, they would be utterly uncontrollable.
Kaiju Defense Force: The Japanese Navy appears in Operation 4, supplying a carrier battlegroup to guard the passageway, implying that Article 9 was revoked when the JAM invaded.
Living MacGuffin: Rei and Yukikaze become this as JAM seems to have a strange fixation to capture them at all costs.
Loophole Abuse: In the supplementary materials, it's noted that the SAF was not allowed funding for a new recon fighter. The Super Sylph's funding was secured by claiming that it was a modified variant of the Sylphid, the FAF's frontline fighter... when in fact it was a completely new design. note This has real world precedent; the Tu-22M Backfire was sold as a variant of the Tu-22 Blinder; likewise the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is almost an entirely new aircraft, sharing less than 20% commonality with the legacy F/A-18 Hornet. This is less pronounced in the novel, where both the Sylph and Super Sylph designs are derived from the F-15S/MTD experimental aircraft.
Love Hurts: Poor Jack. Whether you see his affection for Rei as platonic or romantic, it hurts all the same.
Ludicrous Precision: JAM treats war like a giant mathematical equation and their interest in Rei and Yukikaze is because they're the variable that keeps the equation from balancing out, and while they tried to copy them, and were able to copy Rei to pilot Copy Sylph, they were unable to actually copy Yukikaze.
Earlier in Operation 4 the Japanese Navy attempts this, both with fighter-launched and ship-launched missiles, but quickly stops due to friendly fire risk and the MMM proving ineffective against the JAM's High-Speed Missile Dodge.
Man Child: Rei could be seen as this. He'll either rebel against his superiors or angst if you try to keep him from flying and Yukikaze.
Meaningful Name: Rei's first name means "A drop, a raindrop, a mote. Zero." (Yes, all this.) His surname, Fukai is derived from the word "deep." In fact, it's written with the same kanji as this noh mask. Whether it's intentional or not...
Also, theJAM: just their very presence alone can apparently generate enough ECM to render most advanced radar and sensors useless.
As well as Yukikaze's designation as the FFR-41 Mave/Maeve, as in the Irish Battle Fairy Queen of legend.
Never Trust a Trailer: The Blu-ray release features a so-called "experimental video" which is a trailer for the sequel featuring new footage and narration by Nakata Jouji. The catch? There is no sequel. (In fact, there's never been any mention of the studio planning to make one).
No Export for You: Averted; despite being untranslated for years, the first and second novels (which the anime was based on) have recently been translated and released in English. The third novel, "Unbroken Arrow", was written in 2009 and is not part of the anime; whether it will make it out of Japan is yet to be seen.
No Party Like a Donner Party: The "soup" that Rei is given when he held in the JAM-copied FAF Forward Air Base in Operation 01 turns out to be the liquified remains of his radar intercept officer, Richard Burgadish. This is not revealed in the anime, but in the novel. It falls under this trope because he was fed the soup not out of cruelty, but because the JAM wanted to keep Rei alive but had nothing to feed him because the planet Fairy is not real. The only kind of organic matter available that would provide adequate nutrition for a human body was Burgadish's corpse.
Not Quite Human: The JAM copies look like humans in all aspects except they "bleed" yellow goo.
Nuclear Option: The FAF uses a short-range ballistic missile to destroy the compromised Banshee-IV airship, and considering the size of that vessel, a nuke most definitely would be the most efficient way to destroy it. In the final episode, three TNBs (tactical nuclear bombs) are used to collapse the hyperspace Passageway that connects Earth and Fairy. Contrast the FAF's careful and deliberate use of nuclear weaponry with...
Nuke 'em: ... the JAM, whose Super Sylph copy in the first episode shoots tactical nuclear missiles like it's going out of style. It uses no fewer than three in the span of five minutes!
OldSchoolDogfight: Much of the combat between the FAF and JAM takes place using short-ranged heatseeking missiles and guns. Operation 1 and 4 provide justifications: JAM are masters of the High-Speed Missile Dodge and can put out enough jamming to Interface Screw a destroyer's radar, which is more powerful than the seeker head of a long-range radar guided missile, so the only reliable way to score a kill is to mix it up in the merge.
Pragmatic Adaptation: The anime writers had to adapt two novels (most of which are loosely connected short stories) into less than 3 hours. Since it was impossible to pull it off, the writers sort of went their own way with the story, changing and cutting/expanding the original material. Overall, though, it makes sense and the author of the novels acknowledged it as an alternate version.
Point Defenseless: When the JAM Type-2s engage the Japanese Navy fleet in Operation 4, one destroyer puts up a barrage of fire from the Phalanx CIWS that hits exactly nothing. The Type-2 flew below the gun's point of aim, just a few feet above sea level.
Rule of Drama: Which should really be impossible given that modern, never mind future mounts, have enough depression (-25 degrees) to be used against small surface craft basically right next to the ship making this a fairly straight example.
Given that the Type-2 was putting out enough ECM to Interface Screw the destroyer's radar, it's probable that it also affected the CIWS.
The trope is averted however in the final battle. Huge gunship autocannons do an excellent job picking off a massive number of JAM fighters for most of the fight. Too bad that at that point, there are literally billions of them...
Product Placement: Lyn Jackson uses a Powerbook G3. Jack's computer is an ancient Macintosh Classic.
Psychic Link: Rei and Yukikaze seem to share one, somehow. It's never fully explored.
Shown Their Work: The fighter planes' sounds, the jargon of fighter pilots and other military stuff is (almost) entirely authentic. (The sounds were actually recorded at a JASDF base with real planes flying around.) And while many plane designs are implausible (but really cool) the animators carefully animated all the little movements planes do as they fly.
The unrealistic designs are less of an issue with the novel version of the Sylph and Super Sylph, which is essentially a modified F-15S/MTD, a USAF/NASA experimental aircraft.
The Japanese Navy's F/A-27C backstory is taken almost entirely from that of the F-35, being a joint strike fighter program shared by several services (albeit the F/A-27 program managed to avoid the Development Hell the F-35 went through).
Taking The Missile: An unusual variant of this trope: the Copy Rei/Copy Super Sylph intercepts Yukikaze's missile to prevent Yukikaze from destroying itself, showing just how far the JAM are willing to go to take Rei and Yukikaze alive.
Technology Marches On: The first novel was written in 1984, with the second in 1999, and both were only translated around the 2010s. As a result, a lot of what was then cutting edge aviation technology - e.g. GPS, fly-by-wire controls, thrust vectoring control - is now viewed as ordinary.
Terse Talker: Rei. It's rare to hear him speak a sentence longer than ten words.
Theme Naming: The alien planet is named Fairy; the FAF's various units, aircraft, airbases, etc. are named after fantastic/mythological creatures (FFR-31 Sylph/Sylphid, Banshee Flying Aircraft Carriers, F/A-2 Fawn/Faun/Fand, Kraken Sq., Ghoul Sq., Brownie Airbase, Faery Airbase, plus the Flip Knights).
The Stinger: End of episode 2. Lydia receives a report that the strafing run that Yukikaze did earlier in the episode, although initially blamed for a malfunctioning AI, actually uncovered traces of sabotage in the planes parked in that airbase, foreshadowing JAM's infiltration of FAF and Yukikaze's very accurate JAM-sensing "mind".
Trouble Magnet Gambit: Cooley sending both Rei and Copy Tom together on a mission, on purpose. Jack doesn't like it, at all.
Twenty Minutes into the Future: It's never stated exactly when the OVA takes place, but given various visual clues (Lyn Jackson's Powerbook G3, a V-22, Atago-class DDGs, Ticonderoga-class CGs), it probably takes place sometime within the first decade or two of the 21st century. The novels are suggested to take place around the mid nineties, given that the FFR-41's Bureau Number begins with 96, for Fiscal Year 1996.
Underground City: Underneath the airbase there's housing, transport, and even shopping malls.
United Nations Is a Superpower: Somewhat. After the JAM launched their invasion of Antarctica, a massive coalition of multinational armies counterattacked and drove the invaders back. Up to this day, the UN still oversees patrols over the Antarctic. One side effect of forming the coalition seems to be that Japan revoked Article 9 of their Constitution and now has at least a full-fledged Navy with an aircraft carrier battlegroup.
Van in Black: What Yukikaze and the SAF is, basically. Their job consisted mostly of monitoring the engagements between the actual FAF and JAM — at least it was until they got more directly involved.
The SAF ditches this in Operation 5, sending their Super Sylphs into combat with air-to-air loads, and showing them to be quite effective.
Whole Episode Flashback: It's not until the end when you realize it's Jack who has been narrating the events of episode 5, and perhaps the whole series, to Lyn Jackson, the sci-fi writer.
Why Don't You Just Blow Up The Passageway?: It's revealed in the final episode that the FAF could have easily destroyed the hyperspace portal at any time and fulfilled their mandate to protect Earth from the JAM. However, the prospect of colonizing an alien world was simply too great an opportunity to pass up. Makes one wonder if Humans Are the Real Monsters...
Worf Had The Flu: Rei and Yukikaze vs TS-X1 during the test run. They couldn't operate to their full potential as Captain Foss was in the copilot seat. Should be noted that Foss is a therapist, and not a pilot used to the extreme G forces pilots are constantly subjected to. The Systems Corps officer supervising also notes that even if Foss wasn't with them, manned fighters cannot pull stresses in excess of 9Gs without killing the pilot. The unmanned TS-X1 has no pilot to worry about, and thus has a significantly higher performance threshold.
The Worm That Walks: In the end, the entire "planet" of Fairy turns out to be built out of trillions and trillions of JAM.
Zeerust: On one hand, the FAF are shown to be able to build advanced fighters and AI ahead of what's available today. On the other hand Jack's computer is a Macintosh Classic, Captain Foss uses an ancient laptop with MS Word 3 to type her report, Lyn Jackson uses a Powerbook G3, and Rei uses a simple typewriter while on desk duty. Possibly justified with Lyn Jackson as some writers are known to use old typewriters for their novels, even if they own a modern computer. It could also mean a longing for days past, before the war against Fairy, or she just really likes it.
Or, more prosaically, the FAF keeps the old crap for the Soldiers at the Rear to free up budget for the new fighters - there are mentions in the supplementary materials that the Super Sylphs were quite expensive.