An air force base controlled by Asran pro-monarchy forces, housing Asran's foreign legion.
Abandoned Area: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Area 88 is temporarily abandoned. After Farina's nuclear weapon goes off near Area 88, the pilots and staff are relocated to a mountain base. Later in the manga, however, it is reoccupied.
Crapsack World: It's a military base with a high casualty rate at the front line of a civil war. Shin, who is bound to Area 88 through involuntary servitude, feels this especially.
Setting as a Character: Area 88 looms large over the mercenary characters. In the manga and OVA, several characters speak of Area 88 as if it were an entity.
Small Secluded World: Area 88 is isolated from the outside world, and thus little information seeps in or out.
A young man trained as a commercial pilot by Yamato Airlines. His dreams of becoming a commercial pilot are crushed when his "friend" Kanzaki tricks him into signing a three-year mercenary contract with the Asran air force.
Action Survivor: Shin became a mercenary against his will and was forced to hone his skills to survive the Asran civil war.
Adaptation Dye-Job: He has blond hair in the manga and TV series, but brown hair in the OVA.
Adventures in Comaland: In the manga, Shin is rendered unconscious after his jet crashes. While dreaming, he sees Hoover's spirit beckoning him, but Shin cannot follow Hoover because he can't move his legs. Shin wakes up in the infirmary of Farina's land carrier.
Ambiguous Disorder: In all continuities, he's depressed due to his involuntary servitude at Area 88.
In the OVA, his melancholy is so powerful that has a crying jag in private. Later in the OVA, he finds himself emotionally numb, even after traumatic events such as Jess' mercy kill.
In the manga, he suffers from a brief psychotic episode and has to be confined to a cell until he recovers. Throughout the manga, he's prone to angry (albeit justified) outbursts, such as when he slams his fists down on a box due to being unable to help with Area 88's defense (as his legs were broken).
In the 2004 TV anime, Shin speaks only when necessary and has a blunted affect. He's socially awkward, as seen in flashbacks from his student pilot days with Kanzaki and Ryoko. Moreover, he's aloof and standoffish with the other pilots at Area 88, and is only slightly less so with friends such as Kim and Mickey.
Angst: In the early parts of the manga and OVA, Shin is disgusted at being a killer and reluctant to identify as a mercenary. As the story progresses, the horrors of war change him.
Arrested for Heroism: In the OVA, he stops a robbery by throwing a knife into the robber's sholder. He spends a night in a Paris jail for his trouble.
Badass: He's Area 88's number one pilot because of his combat skills, focus, and tenacity. During his deployment alongside Laurent Bosch in the manga, he also demonstrated combat skill on the ground. Finally, his encounter with Paris thugs in the OVA also shows that he's fearless and skilled with knives.
Conveniently an Orphan: Although in later manga issue that did not make it stateside he meets relatives he didn't know he had: Hachibei Kaionji, his grandfather, and Misuzu, his cousin.
Cosmic Plaything: He especially felt like this in the OVA, when he accidentally retuned to Area 88 after his aircraft was shot down. He'd spent days trying to hike away from the base. In a conversation with McCoy in the manga, he darkly remarked that God has nothing to give them but bullets.
McCoy: I wonder what God is thinking. I don't know anymore.
Shin: It's easy. God gives hope to people, courage to men, love to women, future to children, and comfort to old people. And to vultures like us, God gives lead bullets.
Depending on the Writer: In the manga and OVA, Shin is sociable and develops warm relationships with others at Area 88. In the TV anime, he speaks only when necessary and is aloof from the other pilots, only developing shallow ties to Mickey and Kim.
Determinator: In the manga and OVA, he is fiercly determined to leave Area 88 alive. He survives multiple jet crashes, bullet wounds, and being stranded in the desert, all so that he can return to Japan. Subverted when he leaves Area 88, then decides to return.
Dissonant Laughter / Laughing Mad: In the penultimate issue of the manga, Shin is so emotionally overwhelmed by the deaths of Saki, Mickey, and Sela that he starts laughing hysterically. His laughter makes Kim extremely uncomfortable. He returns to his senses when Kanzaki contacts him.
Dissonant Serenity: In the OVA, when confronted by three Paris thugs, Shin just smiles. He remains calm as he snatches a knife from one of the thugs and hurls it into a robber's shoulder. The thugs are completely unnerved.
Drowning My Sorrows: The TV series hints that he does this privately. In the manga, he drinks heavily to cope with his war trauma after leaving Area 88 and returning to Paris.
Easily Forgiven: In the manga, he menaces a civilian plane, strikes Saki, and attacks Mickey during a brief psychotic episode. His actions would be grounds for a court martial in any other military, but he's released from a holding cell at Area 88 without charges once his psychosis subsides. Mickey and Saki quickly forgive him, even though the blow he dealt to Saki's head damaged Saki's eyesight and would later require Saki to seed medical attention abroad. To boot, Ryoko isn't troubled by the fact that her boyfriend shot at the civilian plane she and her friends were on.
Glass Cannon: In the manga, Shin deals a nasty blow to Saki's head while in the throes of temporary psychosis. However, Mickey floors Shin with one punch. In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Mickey punched Shin again after Shin returned to Area 88. One punch from Mickey sent Shin to the floor.
Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mickey in the OVA and manga. The two often spend time together, confront crises together, and demonstrate great concern and loyalty toward each other.
Subverted when Shin returns to Area 88 in manga issues that didn't make it stateside. Mickey's first reaction upon seeing Shin back at Area 88 is to punch his old friend in the face. Afterwards, they spend less time together than they did earlier in the manga.
Highly Conspicuous Uniform: He wears a bright orange flightsuit in the OVA, a blue flightsuit in the TV series, and a red flightsuit in the arcade game. In the desert, he'd stick out like a sore thumb.
Kubrick Stare: He gives one to Saki during a bout of temporary psychosis in the manga.
Meaningful Name: Shin means "true" in Japanese, while Kazama derives from kaze, meaning "wind". Thus, his name roughly translates "the true wind", an appropriate name for a pilot.
Parental Abandonment: Shin is an orphan who was raised at a Catholic orphanage. In later issues of the manga that did not make it stateside, we learn that Kanzaki's mother was responsible for his parents' deaths.
Peeka Bangs: He sports HUGE bangs, which usually cover one eye.
Relationship-Salvaging Disaster: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Shin leaves Ryoko before their wedding to stop Kanzaki and Project 4 back in Asran. After an aerial duel with Kanzaki, Shin has amnesia and cannot remember the events of the previous few years. His amnesia serves as a relationship reset button with Ryoko, who reunited with him.
Reluctant Warrior: He finds war senseless and ugly and only serves at Area 88 because Kanzaki tricked him into signing a mercenary contract.
Secretly Wealthy: In the manga, while Shin is serving as a mercenary in Bambara, Nadato Balla Homme gives him access to a Swiss Bank account before his death. This makes Shin very wealthy, and he uses his wealth to quietly undermine Project 4.
Took a Level in Badass: In the OVA. In a flashback, an Asranian recruiter throws Shin to the floor in a Paris bar. Later in the OVA, however, Shin not only unnerves a trio of thugs, but stops a robbery by throwing a knife into a robber's shoulder.
Trauma Conga Line: He's betrayed by his best friend, cheated out of a bright future with Yamato Airlines, compelled to serve as a mercenary in a war that disgusts him, kept thousands of miles away from his girlfriend, and forced to cope with the deaths of friends while at Area 88.
What the Hell, Hero?: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Shin returns to Area 88 after briefly living in Paris and Tokyo. Mickey, who had observed Shin's angst during his first mercenary deployment, is so angry that he punches Shin in the face.
Shin also abandons Ryoko in the OVA and manga. In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Sela even questions him about it when he returned to Area 88.
You Can't Go Home Again: In the OVA series, where he forgoes a chance at reuniting with Ryoko in order to go back to Area88.
Affably Evil: Even though he's a mercenary who has no moral qualms about killing for pay or taking part in an ugly war, he's very friendly and talkative.
Ambiguous Disorder: After returning home from the Vietnam War, Mickey was emotionally numb and disconnected from the world around him. In the manga, his startle reflex was heightened, such as when he looked up in alarm as a plane passed overhead while in New York. In the 2004 TV series, he has serious anger issues, illustrated by his violence toward Makoto Shinjou and his angry response to Kim's question during dinner. His symptoms are consistent with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), even though he's never diagnosed with PTSD.
Badass: He's one of the most formidable fighter pilots at Area 88. In addition to being a skilled fighter pilot, he's devastating when he uses physical attacks. Twice in the manga, he floors Shin with one punch. In the 2004 TV anime, one punch from Mickey sends Makoto Shinjou flying.
Battle Couple: With Sela in latter issues of the manga that did not make it stateside.
Beleaguered Bureaucrat: In the manga, Mickey becomes an executive at his father's company after the Vietnam war. He was initially stressed out, although whether this was due to inexperience or untreated war trauma is unclear.
Broken Ace: Despite his skill as a fighter pilot and his friendly exterior, Mickey is a broken man. The Vietnam War left him with PTSD, which prevented him from leading a happy life back in New York. Convinced that he could not live without war, he abandoned a life of privilege to fight at Area 88.
Consummate Professional: For a soldier of fortune, Mickey has a strong professional code. In the manga, he is loyal to his fellow pilots and politely turns down Rishar's offer to join the anti-government forces.
Rishar: Will you fight for me?
Rishar: What's so funny, Mick?
Mickey: Don't underestimate me. I'm a professional soldier! We have our own strict code of conduct, like all professionals, and we have contracts, contracts that can't be broken, no matter what.
The Cynic: He's very cynical about war and peace in the manga. In a conversation with Shin, he explains that Switzerland, a militarily neutral country, was at one time a source of mercenary troops. In a conversation with Rishar, he claims that leaders attribute wars to fate because they are unable to articulate real reasons for starting wars.
Mickey: If you look into their origins, you find that most wars aren't begin for specific reasons. You're always left wondering if there couldn't have been a better solution. Then, in the end, you decide it was just fate. That's the excuse everyone uses.
Depending on the Writer: In the manga and OVA, Mickey is cheerful and friendly without being overbearing, and his angst is mostly internalized. In the 2004 TV anime, he's loud, overbearing, and has serious anger issues.
Easily Forgiven: In the manga, after Shin is incarcerated in a holding cell during his psychosis, Mickey warns Saki not to execute Shin, lest Saki experience an "accident" during combat. Saki has little reaction to a pilot under his command threatening his life, and Mickey would remain his trusted comrade for the remainder of the manga.
Forceful Kiss: Used for comedic effect in manga that did not make it stateside. McCoy secures a new F-14 Tomcat for Mickey after his previous F-14 was shot down. Mickey is so overjoyed that he grabs McCoy and tries to kiss him. McCoy is not amused.
He also did this to Sela to show his feelings for her, with ambivalent results. A gentler kiss between the two later in the manga went much better.
Hair-Trigger Temper: In the TV anime. He punches Makoto Shinjou for taking photographs of an injured pilot in the first episode. He also barks at Kim during dinner after Shin had been shot down.
Highly Conspicuous Uniform: He wears a purplish-blue flightsuit in the TV series and an indigo flightsuit in the OVA and arcade game. Needless to say, in the desert he would NOT blend in.
The Lancer: He's Shin's best friend and wingman, and his gregarious temperament is in sharp contrast to Shin's melancholy personality.
Last Kiss: In the manga, Sela kisses him before they're both killed in an explosion.
Manly Tears: After Nguyen's death in manga that did not make it stateside.
Messenger: In the manga, Mickey is briefly captured by anti-government forces, but Rishar sends him back to Area 88 with a message for Saki.
Minor Injury Overreaction: In the manga, Mickey is shot down and wakes up in an anti-government base infirmary. He bumped his head during the crash, and is VERY unhappy about his headache.
Mickey: WHO'S RUNNING AN ELECTRIC SHAVER INSIDE MY SKULL!?
Muscles Are Meaningless: In the manga, Mickey is surprisingly strong for a slender man. When Shin lashes out due to temporary psychosis, Mickey floors him with one punch. In a later issue of the manga that did not make it stateside, Mickey does it again. Angered by Shin's return to Area 88, Mickey punches Shin, who immediately falls to the floor. Of course, Shin might just be a Glass Cannon.
In the manga, Shin and Mickey are taken captive aboard Farina's land carrier. Shin's legs were broken during a jet crash, so Mickey carriers Shin atop his shoulders at length, seemingly without difficulty or discomfort.
The One That Got Away: Tracy. He and Tracy broke off their engagement when Mickey decided that he could not live a civilian life.
Taking the Bullet: Toward the end of the manga, Mac shoots at Sela during aerial combat. Mickey flies between the two, and his jet takes the bullets intended for Sela's aircraft.
There Are No Therapists: After the Vietnam War, he never got help for his war trauma, making it difficult for him to adjust to civilian life. Not helped by the fact that everyone around him (except Tracy) was oblivious to his trauma.
Undying Loyalty: To Shin in the manga. He has come between Shin and death on multiple occasions, both in aerial combat and on the ground. When the Enforcers threatened Shin, Mickey was by Shin's side, ready to defend him. When Shin was shot down by Farina's land carrier, Mickey immediately flew out to look for Shin, getting shot down and taken captive in the process.
Wingman: To Shin and Saki, but he's a formidable pilot in his own right.
A boisterous Danish fighter pilot who serves at Area 88.
Accidental Murder: In manga that did not make it stateside, Greg's aircraft crashes in Asran City. While traveling through the city, he finds a frightened Asranian child whose mother was killed in the fighting. The girl accidentally shoots him with her family's gun.
Badass Beard: He's a formidable fighter pilot with a bushy beard.
Big Sleep: In the manga, after being accidentally shot by a frightened Asranian girl, Greg dies peacefully.
Asranian Girl: "Are you sleeping?"
Blood Knight: In the OVA, he can be quite gleeful during aerial combat.
Greg: I know it's early, but here's a present from Santa Claus!
But Not Too White: For a northern European, he has a very tanned face in the OVA and arcade game.
Drowning My Sorrows: In manga published in Animerica, he does this once after the deaths of several fellow pilots.
Feel No Pain: He sterilizes shrapnel wounds with alcohol, for crying out loud. In a manga issue that did not make it stateside, he sterilizes a wound by spreading gunpowder from a bullet onto it, then igniting the gunpowder with a lit cigarette.
Hidden Depths: Early in the manga, Greg is shown as a boisterous pilot and occasional Idiot Ball holder. However, he's shown to have a pensive side when he addresses Asranian troops at Area 85, urging the Asranian pilots to let the mercenaries handle the more dangerous missions. He reminds the Asranians that they must stay alive to rebuild Asran after the civil war, whereas mercenaries have no lives to rebuild or homes to return to. He's also shown to have a sensitive side when he grieves over Jensen and Campbell's death.
Made of Iron: Throughout the manga, he survives shrapnel wounds, bullet wounds, and blood loss from Wolfpack's "Bloody Screw" aerial attack without making much fuss.
Manly Tears: After the deaths of Jensen and Campbell in the manga.
Suddenly Bilingual: Toward the end of the manga, he communicates with a frightened Asranian child, even though he showed no signs of Arabic fluency before.
Sympathetic Murderer: In manga that did not make it stateside. Back in Europe, he killed a man who had murdered an innocent refugee woman and child.
An elderly arms dealer who secures arms and supplies for Area 88, sometimes through dubious means.
Affably Evil: He's an arms dealer who uses underhanded tactics to get his hands on wares. He cares only about money, indifferent to the moral implications of his work. In the OVA, he also sold defective Sidewinders to Boris and tried to sell them to Shin. In spite of this, he's friendly and grandfatherly to the pilots, especially Shin. The manga and OVA show him bringing Shin a case of ramen noodles after a business trip and gathering information on Kanzaki for him.
Ambiguously Jewish / Greedy Jew: He has a large nose and cares only about money, thereby fitting the stereotype. Although, given the name, he may be a Scotsman.
Arms Dealer: He sells fighter jets, weapons, and sundries to Area 88.
Characterization Marches On: Early in the manga and OVA, he's indifferent to the safety of his customers, such as when he sells defective Sidewinders to Boris. As the manga progresses, he shows concern for the pilots and shares his melancholy thoughts about their deaths.
Cool Old Guy: He's a friendly (if amoral) old man with a sense of humor.
Easily Forgiven: When McCoy sells defective Sidewinders, neither Boris nor Shin report him to their superiors, even though his actions endangered Boris. The incident is quickly forgotten, and Shin never brings it up again.
Evil Old Folks: Despite being a jovial old man, McCoy is still an amoral arms dealer profiting from a bloody civil war.
Honest John's Dealership: He sells merchandise to make the maximum profit possible. Early in the series, he even sold defective sidewinders.
Knowledge Broker: McCoy serves as this to Shin in all continuities. In the manga and OVA, he provides Shin with information about Kanzaki and Yamato Airlines. In the TV anime, he provides Shin with tidbits about Makoto Shinjou's real mission in exchange for money.
Manly Tears: In manga that didn't make it stateside, he's on the verge of tears when Shin signs a new mercenary contract at Area 88.
The Scrounger: He tracks down elite fighter jets, as well as other supplies, for Area 88. In the manga, he brags that he can get someone the Kremlin if they have enough money.
A young, enthusiastic fighter pilot who serves at Area 88.
Bishōnen: One of the most youthful and androgynous-looking male characters in the series.
Child Soldier: In the manga, he is sixteen years old when he arrives at Area 88.
Cross-Dressing Voices: Although Kim is a young man, he is voiced by women in the Japanese and English versions of the TV series.
Never Bare Headed: Well, rarely bare-headed. He wears a turban in the TV series and a beret in the manga, at least when not wearing his flight helmet during combat.
The Reveal: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, it's revealed that he's a son of the Bambara presidential family.
Sudden Principled Stand: In manga that did not make it stateside, Kim is very unhappy after Nguyen shoots an enemy pilot who ejected. Toward the end of the manga, he also prevents Saki from shooting a disoriented Abdael, arguing that Abdael is still Saki's parent.
Vitriolic Best Buds: With Sela in manga issues that did not make it stateside. Also with Kitori in the TV series.
An Area 88 fighter pilot who is blinded during aerial combat. He panics, shooting recklessly at friend and foe alike. Shin is forced to perform a mercy kill on him to protect the rest of the squadron.
Blood Knight: He delights in battle. In the OVA, he even admits to Shin that he loves bloodshed and can't get enough of it.
Freudian Excuse: Thanks to the strife in Vietnam, he was surrounded by blood and violence his entire life. Nguyen was born immediately after his mother was killed by bombs. In the manga, his birth is shown in a flashback in which two horrified Vietnamese women take him from his mangled mother's remains.
Japanese Voice Actor: Takahiro Fujimoto (TV series)
A former major in the West German air force, descended from a long line of ace fighter pilots. He serves at Area 88 to escape a tragic past.
Ace Pilot: Shin observes that Hoover is a better aerial leader than Saki, and that he must have been a fine commander in the West German air force.
Badass: You don't survive at Area 88 or rise to the rank of major in the West German air force by being anything less.
Badass Baritone: When viewers briefly hear him speak in the 2004 anime, his voice is deep.
Beware the Nice Ones: He might be more pleasant than some of Area 88's other pilots, but he's still a mercenary. For example, after Saki demands implicit obedience from his best pilots after a Wolf Pack attack devastates Area 88, Hoover is among the pilots trying to manipulate Saki into giving them free equipment and maintenance in exchange for absolute obedience to orders.
Demoted to Extra: He receives character development in the manga, but only makes a cameo in the TV series.
A Father to His Men: Shin deeply respects him, and he in turn helps Shin make sense of Mario's combat death. He also gently reminds Mario not to be reckless in combat.
Hoover: It's a man's fate to die eventually. Just don't be so hasty to go, son.
Foil: To Mario. His maturity and reserve contrast sharply to Mario's immaturity and cockiness.
Hypocrite: Hoover was devastated when he thought his actions led to the accidental deaths of several pilots back in Europe. What does he do to escape his painful past? He becomes a mercenary and kills enemy pilots for a living.
My Greatest Failure: Hoover blames himself for the deaths of several pilots during a training exercise back in Europe.
Like Father, Like Son / Lineage Comes from the Father: He comes from a family of famous German fighter pilots, stretching back to World War I. When he and Mario meet for the first time, Mario surprises him by reciting famous details about the Kippenburg lineage.
Majorly Awesome: An ex-major in the West German air force and a former NATO air commander.
Psychopomp: After Hoover's death in the manga, he appears in a dream to Shin, beckoning Shin to come with him.
The Stoic: He's calm and reserved most of the time.
A cocky, arrogant Italian pilot at Area 88 and a former member of the Frecce Tricolori aerobatic team.
Ace Pilot: Deconstructed. Mario is an ace aerobatic pilot, not a seasoned fighter pilot. His aerobatic skills serve him well in his first dogfights, but as other pilots repeatedly point out, aerobatic skill is not the same as combat skill. Greg tries in vain to explain this to Mario.
Greg: You're better at flying and stunts. But it's a different story in combat. It's not a matter of being good or bad, it's all a matter of survival.
Mario: I came back alive!
Greg: You came back alive today. But you never know about tomorrow ... If you get killed, you lose everything.
Even though Mario rises to the rank of #1 pilot at Area 88, his achievement is short-lived. His overweening pride and lack of familiarity with combat techniques gets him killed. Hoover points this out after Mario's death.
Hoover: Skill in combat is very different from aerobatic skill. Moreover, ordinary combat skill isn't enough here. On an aerobatic team, no matter how difficult their stunts may be, they don't have other people trying to kill them.
Alas, Poor Villain: When Mario dies trying to execute an outer loop, Shin mourns for him, wondering what kind of life Mario left behind in Italy.
Ascended Fanboy: He adored fighter pilots and jets as a child, eventually growing up to be an aerobatic pilot.
Attention Whore: He takes every opportunity to draw attention to himself and his skill while at Area 88.
Bishōnen: He's youthful, with a thick head of black hair and large, shiny eyes.
Blood Knight: He's very eager to engage in combat, which causes the other pilots some consternation.
Mario: I came here to be a real fighter pilot.
James: Say what? Weren't you a fighter pilot in the aerobatic team? You must've been using a Fiat G9, that light agile fighter.
Mario: That's not a real fighter. It's just a jet plane. I want to be in real combat!
Other pilots: He wants to be in real combat instead of make-believe? What a fruitcake!
Encyclopaedic Knowledge: Of famous European fighter pilots. Upon meeting Hoover, he immediately knows who Hoover is and recites details about fighter pilots in Hoover's lineage.
Mario: You must be Hoover Kippenburg, ex-major of the West German air force. Adolph Kippenburg, your father, shot down 130 planes with his Messerschmidt during World War II. And your grandfather, Karl von Kippenburg, was one of the Blue Maxes during World War I. You've got one impressive family background.
Hoover: How do you know all that? Were you a genealogist in Rome?
Mario: No, I've adored fighter pilots since I was a kid. I know most of the famous fighter pilots in Europe.
Foil: To Shin and Hoover. Mario sees war as something exciting, whereas Shin and Hoover know that war is anything but.
Glory Seeker: He comes to Area 88 to become a "real" pilot and show off his skill.
Ignored Epiphany: He's nearly shot down during his first dogfight, and he's so shaken afterwards that his teeth are chattering. Unfortunately, his brush with death does nothing to dent his arrogance and recklessness, and he fails to realize how inexperienced he truly is.
Jerkass: He's a skilled aerobatic pilot, and he never lets anyone forget it.
Karmic Death: After bragging endlessly about his aerobatic skill, Mario dies performing an outer loop for which his aerobatic training did not prepare him.
Man Child: He acts like a hot-headed, macho teenager who craves approval from others.
Smug Snake: He's deeply convinced of his superiority as a pilot. However, his inexperience in combat nearly cost him his life in his first dogfight, and he only survives due to Shin's help. After a few combat successes, he's unbearably smug with the other pilots, only to die in combat shortly thereafter.
Team Prima Donna: He brags endlessly of his aerobatic skill and does everything possible to attract attention to himself.
A former Project 4 mercenary pilot who meets Shin after their jets crash near ancient ruins. She later defects to Area 88.
Action Girl: She serves as a fighter pilot for Project 4, then Area 88.
After-Action Patchup: After sustaining a minor leg injury during combat, we see her in the infirmary in a medical gown with a bandage on her thigh. Mickey comes to visit her, and they share a romantic moment.
Democracy Is Flawed: He does not think the Asranian people are ready for democracy yet because of the country's poverty and insufficient education system.
Mixed Ancestry: Saki is the son of an Asranian prince and his Greek wife, Soria, who was loved by the Asranian people. Saki has suffered no stigma in Asran because of his mixed heritage.
Momma's Boy: He has loving memories of his mother, Soria.
My Country, Right or Wrong: In the manga, Saki defends the Asranian monarchy, even though its decisions have left the Asranian people poor and uneducated.
My Greatest Failure: The manga discusses the origin of his X-shaped scar. During the early years of Asran's civil war, Saki was reluctant to engage his father's aerial forces in battle, which cost him the lives of his entire squadron. Saki was so devastated that he cut an X-shaped scar into his own forehead in front of King Zak as a mark of shame.
No Place for Me There / Driven to Suicide: At the end of the manga, Saki admits that the Asranian people will not accept him after his role in the civil war. After Abdael's death, Saki carries Abdael's body into Soria's tomb and shoots himself.
Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Subverted in the manga, Saki is so determined to defeat the anti-government forces that he is willing to use nuclear weapons.
Personal Horror: In the manga, Saki is slowly losing his eyesight due to an injury.
Revenge Before Reason: He participates in the civil war that is tearing his homeland apart partially out of hatred for his father, Prince Abdael.
Sugar and Ice Personality: He comes across as a cold, methodical military man, but he shows great warmth to those he loves, such as Rishar. He can also be very friendly and gracious with old friends.
Thicker Than Water: He deeply cares for his brother Rishar, even though they're on opposite sides of the civil war.
Trauma Conga Line: The manga explores this in detail. He loses his mother at a young age, he nearly loses his brother, his homeland has been engulfed by a civil war started by his father, one of his most trusted soldiers (Shin) attacks him in a fit of lunacy, and said attack leaves him with eye damage that is slowly robbing him of his eyesight. Then at the end of the manga when he learns that the civil war was futile, he kills himself.
Vetinari Job Security: During a conversation with Mickey in the manga, Saki says that the Asranian people are not ready for democracy, and that the Vashtal royal family must look after the people like a parent.
Warrior Prince: He's an Asranian prince who also serves as a commander and fighter pilot at Area 88.
An Asranian prince who serves the anti-government side of Asran's civil war. Son of Soria and Abdael, nephew of King Zak, and brother of Saki.
Bishōnen: He's an androgynous young man with long hair and shiny eyes.
Defector from Decadence: Rishar is an Asranian prince who wants to eradicate the Asranian monarchy and bring democracy to the country.
Earn Your Happy Ending: At the end of the manga, Rishar, Soria, and King Zak usher in a new era for Asran, after witnessing years of civil war.
Left for Dead: In the Animerica manga, Rishar is severely injured after he tries to sabotage Farina's land carrier. The land carrier crew dumps his unconscious body in the desert, where McCoy discovers him and takes him back to Area 88.
Like Mother Like Son: Rishar resembles Soria, down to the long blond hair. Saki remarks that Rishar is much more like their mother than their father.
Thicker Than Water: He speaks warmly of his brother Saki, even though they're on opposite sides of the civil war.
Unexpected Successor: At the end of the manga, Rishar, Soria, and King Zak are left to transition Asran from a monarchy to a modern republic.
Wide-Eyed Idealist: Rishar genuinely wants to empower the Asranian people by replacing the monarchy with a democracy.
Rishar: Out nation will have no future unless we reform it! The unique nature of this country may disappear by introducing another culture, by bringing sweeping change, but the people shouldn't have to endure hardship and poverty just to retain their heritage! The future cannot be sacrificed for the past!
Mickey warns him that the Asranian people may call for his execution after the war. Rishar is not afraid of this possible outcome.
Mickey: Changing to a democracy is fine, but when the new system is completed, what will you do if the people in this country decide you should be killed?
Rishar: I will obey the will of the people. This has gone on too long. It would be easy to give my life if it brought comfort to those who have died.
The monarch who rules Asran. He fights a civil war against anti-government forces led by his brother, Abdael.
Cool Uncle: In the manga, Zak was a father figure to Saki in his youth.
Earn Your Happy Ending: King Zak, Soria, and Rishar usher in a new era for Asran at the end of the manga, after Zak has struggled to hold the country together during years of civil war.
Gonk: In the manga. He's drawn realistically in the OVA, however.
Monster Sob Story: In the manga, his wife Soria was near death due to her blood cancer after giving birth to Rishar. He arranged for Soria to be put in cryogenic suspension until treatment could be discovered, hiding her cryogenic chamber under her tomb. Toward the end of the manga, we learn that Abdael wanted to take control of Asran so that he could develop its medical technology through foreign capital, hopefully allowing for Soria's cure to be developed.
When You Coming Home, Dad?: Implied. Abdael is noticeably absent from flashbacks of Saki's youth, suggesting that he didn't play a big role in Saki's upbringing.
Abdael's beloved Greek wife, mother to Saki and Rishal. She reportedly died giving birth to Rishal.
Death by Childbirth: In a heartbreaking childhood flashback, Saki weeps after Soria dies giving birth to Rishar. Neither Saki nor Rishar realize that she is not dead, just cryogenically preserved.
Easy Amnesia: After being revived from cryogenic suspension, Soria does not initially remember who she is.
Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Soria is a blonde who embodies beauty, grace, maternal tenderness, and love for her adopted country, Asran.
Human Popsicle: Soria suffered from blood cancer, which left her near death after the birth of Rishar. Her husband, Prince Abdael, put her in cryogenic suspension until a cure could be found. The public was told she died in childbirth.
Unexpected Successor: At the end of the manga, Soria, Rishar, and King Zak are left to transition Asran from a monarchy into a modern republic.
Villainous Rescue: Julianna, working on behalf of Project 4, discovers Soria's cryogenic chamber hidden underneath her tomb. Julianna makes it appear that the tomb has been burned, then takes Soria's chamber out of Asran and has her revived.
(TV anime only)
King Zak's daughter and a fighter pilot in the Asranian air force.
Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In the manga, after anti-government forces massacred a Bedoin tribe he had befriended, Rocky flies into a rage. He drives a jeep head-on into anti-government vehicles, losing an eye and an arm in the process.
(TV Anime Only)
A photographer researching the Asranian civil war and mercenary life at Area 88.
Camera Fiend: He makes a nuisance of himself by photographing every aspect of life at Area 88, including an injured pilot.
An American veteran from Harlem who served alongside Mickey during the Vietnam War. The head of Project 4's forces in Asran under Kanzaki.
Anti-Villain: He works for the villainous Project 4, but he's shown to be a noble character. For example, he's also a loving father who works as a mercenary in order to pay for his daughter's medical treatment. He spares Sela's life when she defects, and shares painful details of his life with Mickey when they meet outside of combat.
Badass Beard: He's a badass pilot with a short beard, sans mustache.
Drugs Are Bad: His wife Jennifer died from drug use. Their daughter Miriam was born with health problems because of this.
Foil: To Mickey. Mac's life of hardship and heartbreak contrasts sharply to Mickey's former life of wealth.
From Nobody to Nightmare: He went from a poor young man in Harlem to a high-ranking soldier in the world's most dangerous arms network.
Heartbroken Badass: Mac is a widower who serves as a mercenary in order to raise money for his daughter Miriam's medical treatment. Near the end of the manga, Mac learns that his daughter has died in the hospital.
Toxic Friend Influence: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, after Shin leaves Area 88 and takes up residence in France, Bosch spends time with him. Shin is having difficulty coping with civilian life, and Bosch convinces him to work as a mercenary again.
Friendly Sniper: He's very protective of Layla and Rohde, expressing romantic feelings for Layla.
Gun Nut: He's first introduced while practicing with his rifle in Bosch's basement.
Manga and OVA
Affably Evil: After a miserable setback, Shin throws his helmet down in anger. One of the Escape Killers picks it up and hands it back to him saying "This protects your head. You should treat it with more respect, Mr. Kazama". Shin snatches his helmet, telling them to mind their own buisness. Unphased, the three pilots look on as Shin angrily walks away in frustration, knowing that they have found their "mark". They know what he'll probably try to do later.
Bounty Hunter: Essentially what these guys are. They are called in to hunt down deserters.
Foreshadowing: Saki is giving a bit of Exposition in which he outlines the only three ways to leave Area 88, the third being "deserting". At the mention of this word, the three pilots (whom we are not yet privy to their purpose), overhear that word and noticeably look up from their own private conversation.
Leitmotif: When the three pilots arrive and it is revealed that they are Black, a kind of "funk" style music plays as they exit their planes.
Scary Black Man: Suprisingly averted: None of the three Escape Killers look physically intimidating. But the leader does have a somewhat sinister looking face that suggests cunning. It's also worth mentioning that he is the shortest of the three.
Jerkass Ball: For some reason, she speaks harshly of Kanzaki's mother right after Kanzaki told her about his mother's suicide in the manga.
Ryoko: I feel bad about saying this, but I think your mother must have been a very weak person. To end up like that, I mean. Even if I were in her situation and lost my man. As long as I had the memory of the love I shared, I'm sure I would be able to handle it.
Love Makes You Dumb: She is consumed by her love for Shin and her determination to find him, which leads her to make questionable decisions, such as failing to ask herself why Shin might be at Area 88 in the first place, accepting Kanzaki's scarpia ultimatum, and repeatedly uniting with Shin after he breaks her heart.
Love Martyr: In the manga and OVA, Ryoko is willing to endure much hardship to release Shin from servitude. Too bad he breaks her heart.
Loving a Shadow: Her love for Shin can be interpreted as this in the manga and OVA.
Ms. Fanservice: She gets a nude scene in the OVA and several nude scenes in the manga.
My Girl Back Home: For Shin. She pines for him in Japan and France while he serves in Asran.
Not So Different: From Kanzaki's late mother. Like Kanzaki's mother, she is obsessed with her absentee lover, and she attempts suicide when he breaks her heart.
Ojou: She's a gracious young woman from a wealthy family.
Runaway Bride: At the end of the TV series. She was about to marry Kanzaki, until Shinjou secretly told her that Shin was still alive.
Spurned Into Suicide: In manga that did not make it stateside, Ryoko cuts her wrist after Shin breaks her heart over the phone. Taeko discovers her and gets her medical attention in time to save her life.
Thinks Like a Romance Novel: She puts Shin on a pedestal and is consumed by her love for him, convinced that life will be fine when they are reunited.
Woman-Child: In the manga and OVA, she's emotional, immature, and prone to acts of poor judgment. Averted in the TV anime.
Wrong Genre Savvy: In the manga and OVA, Ryoko seems to think she's in a romance story instead of a war story. She places great faith in the power of love, oblivious to why Shin would be at Area 88 in the first place and how war might have affected him.
Sexy Secretary: She serves as the executive secretary at Yamato Airlines.
She Knows Too Much: In the manga, when Taeko uncovers Kanzaki's underhanded dealings, Kanzaki and Julianna try to have her killed.
The Smart Gal: In the manga, she has considerable intelligence and savvy, which helps her unravel Kanzaki's schemes. She is also the first person to deduce that Kanzaki had something to do with Shin's disappearance.
The Social Expert: In the manga, she's skilled at reading people, such as when she draws details from Kanzaki's meeting with a rival airline representative. She also sees through Kanzaki's friendly fascade and realizes how dangerous he is far before Ryoko does.
Sugar and Ice Personality: She's tough and assertive in public, but kind and sensitive with those she loves, such as Ryoko and Josie.
A ruthless, power-hungry man who grew up with Shin at the same Catholic orphanage. He gets Shin out of the way by tricking him into signing a three-year contract with the Asranian air force, then sets out to take over Yamato Airlines. In the manga, he becomes the leader of a global arms network called Project 4 and interferes with the civil war in Asran.
Ambition Is Evil: His lust for power drives him to commit heinous acts, such as tricking Shin into signing a mercenary contract, seizing control of Yamato Airlines, entering into a business agreement with Farina, arranging murders with Julianna, and heading the Project 4 arms network.
Beard of Evil: He grows a beard in later issues of the manga that didn't make it stateside.
Beneath the Mask: In the manga and OVA, Ryoko learns what kind of person Kanzaki truly is when he takes over Yamato Airlines through underhanded means and later proposes a Scarpia Ultimatum.
In the manga's Kanzaki's private thoughts give readers a glipse into his true nature. For example, after a Yamato plane crashes into Tokyo Bay, Kanzaki visits the victims' grieving family members in a temple. He puts on the appearance of a concerned and humbled company president, but his thoughts show his true ruthlessness.
Kanzaki: I will realize my ambition by stepping on the bodies of the fallen.
Big Bad: Later in the manga as the head of Project 4.
Dead Person Impersonation: Well, dead man's son impersonation. In the Animerica manga, after Julianna murders Farina, Kanzaki takes on the false identity of Farina's son to evade the authorities and inherit Farina's wealth. He was known as Satoru Farina for much of the manga.
Devil in Plain Sight: In the manga, Taeko suspects that Kanzaki is involved in dubious activity long before Ryoko and Mr. Tsugumo do.
Didn't See That Coming: In the manga, Kanzaki never anticipated that both King Zak's forces and the anti-government forces would turn on Project 4.
In the manga, Kanzaki arranged for Soria's tomb to be burned, thinking that the desecration would anger Abdael into attacking King Zak's forces more aggressively. He didn't realize that Soria was still alive in a cryogenic chamber underneath the tomb, and Julianna never told him.
Duel to the Death: In the final issue of the manga, Shin kills Kanzaki in an aerial duel.
Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He loved his late mother, and her suicide deeply traumatized him. He remarks to Ryoko that his mother was a beautiful woman.
Possibly subverted by his mommy issues, a result of his mother trying to take him with her when she committed suicide.
Kanzaki's love for his late mother might be more than filial. He tells Ryoko that she resembles his mother, then proposes a scarpia ultimatum to Ryoko several pages later. Paging Dr. Freud!
Evil Former Friend: To Shin. He and Shin grew up together in the same orphanage and were close friends, until he tricked Shin into signing a mercenary contract.
From Nobody to Nightmare: In the manga and OVA, Kanzaki starts as a Yamato Airlines pilot but later takes over the company through shifty stock deals with a rival company. In manga issues that did not make it stateside, he exerts immense power as the head of Project 4.
General Failure: In the manga and OVA, after taking over Yamato Airlines, a Yamato plane crashes due to inferior parts that Kanzaki bought from Farina's company. The resulting financial and public relations nightmare was a serious blow to the airline.
In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Kanzaki eventually becomes the leader of an arms network called Project 4, which tries to take over Asran through an alliance with Prince Abdael, Saki's father. It fails when anti-government forces thwart them.
Jerkass: When not hiding behind his civilized mask, he's petty, cruel, and smug.
Jerkass Has a Point: In the manga. Kanzaki tells Ryoko that her fixation on an absentee Shin is reminiscent of his mother's fixation on his estranged father, which ended in his mother's suicide. Confirmed later in the manga when Ryoko tries to kill herself after Shin breaks her heart over the phone.
Ryoko: I feel bad about saying this, but I think your mother must have been a very weak person. To end up like that, I mean. Even if I were in her situation and lost my man. As long as I had the memory of the love I shared, I'm sure I would be able to handle it. And I would never involve a small child in my problems.
Kanzaki: It's easy to have such an idealistic attitude. But, would your attitude hold up if you were really faced with the same kind of situation? ... Shin has been missing a long time. And you don't know whether he's alive or dead. Yet, you still love him. In retrospect, is your situation any different?
In the manga, he also criticizes Ryoko for having Josie with her during a jaunt to the Middle East. Given that Ryoko adopted Josie on a whim at a young age (Ryoko was only 20 at the time), he had a point, although his motive was mainly to take a swipe at Ryoko.
Karmic Death: Kanzaki tricked Shin into signing a mercenary contract. At the end of the manga, Shin kills Kanzaki in his capacity as a mercenary fighter pilot.
Manipulative Bastard: He deceives and manipulates everyone around him in his ongoing quest for power.
Parental Abandonment / Dark and Troubled Past: His mother committed suicide after his father abandoned her. She drove her car off an embankment with little Kanzaki inside. Kanzaki survived, but the first thing he saw when he emerged from the wreck was his dead mother's body.
Pride: His undoing. In the OVA, he's so confident in his newfound power as head of Yamato Airlines that he makes mistakes and trusts the wrong people. He's blindsided when his allies from a rival airline abandon him after a Yamato Airlines plane crashes in Tokyo Bay. In the manga, he's so confident in Project 4's influence that he fails to anticipate Asran's pro-monarchy and anti-government forces setting aside their differences to oust Project 4.
Kanzaki: You just told me you can endure anything, didn't you? I'm the kind of person who doesn't believe all that true love nonsense. If you say you can endure anything for love, I want you to prove it.
Later in the manga, he also mocks the idea of love when Shin abandons Ryoko to return to Area 88.
The Sociopath: He is ruthless in his quest for power, with no consideration for morality or human life.
Soft-Spoken Sadist: His voice and appearance are much less ominous in the TV series than in the OVA. In the TV series, he comes across as reserved and completely normal, which makes his villainy all the more frightening.
Villainous Crush: On Ryoko. At first, Kanzaki wants a relationship with Ryoko in order to rise up in the Yamato Airlines hierarchy. This is why he proposes a marriage of convenience to her in the TV series. In the manga and OVA, however, his sexual attraction to her is also rooted in sadism, as demonstrated by his Scarpia Ultimatum proposal.
In the manga, Kanzaki confesses that Ryoko looks like his mother. Hooooooooboy.
Affably Evil: He is gracious with guests and captives alike.
Arms Dealer: In addition to running a legitimate company, he sells illegal arms worldwide. In the manga, his crowning achievement is a mobile land carrier, which he offers to sell to Asran's anti-government forces.
The Don: He's a powerful don in the Italian mafia.
Evil Old Folks: He's an elderly man who engages in evil activities, such as selling arms, arranging assassinations, introducing a nuclear-armed land carrier to Asran, and playing deadly games with Shin, Mickey, and Rishar.
Heel-Face Turn: In manga issues that did not make it stateside, Julianna abandons Kanzaki and Project 4 after she discovers Soria (Saki's mother) in a cryogenic chamber. She also confides in Taeko about Soria and Project 4.
Make It Look Like an Accident: In the manga, when Taeko uncovers the truth about Kanzaki's underhanded dealings, Julianna oversees her attempted assassination. She and her thugs kidnap Taeko, inject her with a small amount of alcohol, and send her car into Tokyo Bay to make it look like a drunk driving accident. Fortunately, Rocky rescues Taeko from drowning.
Morning Sickness: In the manga, nausea is one of the first signs that she is pregnant.
Poison Is Evil: On Kanzaki's prompting, she kills Farina by poisoning his wine in the Animerica manga.
Chekhov's Skill: The lip-reading skill she learned from her late mother. She uses it to determine that Shin is shouting "Ryoko" when he flies near a commercial plane which she and Ryoko are on board. She also uses it at a Swiss hospital to determine that a man on the telephone is discussing a plot on Saki's life.
Chekhov's Gunman: Her lip reading skills serve as an important plot device on two occasions.
Crash into Hello: Josie accidentally runs into him, and his unusual appearance startles her.
Dogged Nice Guy: He proposes to Taeko shortly after meeting her, earning him a slap in the face. Later, he travels to Switzerland to meet up with her, bringing him into contact with Saki.
Love Hurts: His unrequited infatuation with Taeko brings him only sorrow.
Took a Level in Badass: He's skilled with a katana and serves as Saki's bodyguard during Saki's medical visit to Europe.
Kanzaki's mentally unstable mother who committed suicide when Kanzaki was a child.
Cute But Psycho: She tried to kill her own son in a murder-suicide attempt, but Kanzaki remembers her as a beautiful woman.
Like Mother Like Son: Both she and her son are unhinged, and both die trying to take someone else with them. Kanzaki's mother tried to take Kanzaki with her when she committed suicide, and Kanzaki tried to take Shin with him during an aerial duel.
Murder-Suicide: What she tries to do with her young son. She also successfully killed Shin's parents before her suicide.
Not So Different: From Ryoko. Both women are obsessed with absentee lovers. Also, both women attempt suicide when spurned by their loves. Kanzaki's mother was successful, while Ryoko was not in issues that did not make it stateside.
Small Role, Big Impact: By killing Shin's parents and herself, she set the stage for Shin and Kanzaki bonding at the same orphanage ... and the rest is history. Her dark history with the Kazamas and her suicide also triggered Kanzaki's start of darkness.
Spurned Into Suicide: She commit suicide after Kanzaki's father abandoned her. She drove her car off a cliff while Kanzaki was sleeping inside. Kanzaki survived the crash, but she was killed.
The Balla Homme Family
The ruling family of the African nation of Bambara.
The Coup: Nadato Balla Homme loses power due to a coup and his forced to flee Bambara with his wife Lydia and his children Layla and Rodhe.
Orphan's Ordeal: After Nadato and Lydia are killed, Layla and Rodhe struggle to make it out of Bambara safely alongside Shin and Error.
Small Role, Big Impact: President Nadato Balla Homme only appear for a few issues. However, the Swiss bank account he bequeaths to Shin makes Shin very wealthy. Shin will later use this wealth to combat Project 4 behind the scenes.