Franchise: Sentou Yousei Yukikaze
33 years ago, humanity realized it was not alone in the universe when Antarctic researchers came under swift and massive attack by an alien force known as the JAM that invaded Earth through a dimensional portal that had suddenly appeared on the ice continent. In response, the United Nations
launched a massive counter-attack and after a series of bloody battles, managed to push the enemy back to the other side of the portal, which led to a planet named "Faery" by the humans. Earth was saved. However, the battle still rages on. On Earth, the UN created the Earth Defense Organization to patrol the Antarctic coastline. On Faery, the EDO expeditionary force that pursued the JAM through the portal was designated the Faery Air Force (FAF) and established multiple bases on the alien world, serving as the first line of defense for humanity.
2nd Lieutenant Rei Fukai of the FAF pilots the Super Sylph B-503 fighter, nicknamed "Yukikaze", an advanced armed tactical reconnaissance plane equipped with a near-sentient AI computer system. He belongs to the Special Air Force (SAF), the FAF's strategic recon wing. His duty is simple: observe and record data from battles between the FAF and the JAM. Do not attempt to interfere. Do not attempt to help. Should the JAM ever threaten to destroy him & Yukikaze, there is only one imperative: to abandon his comrades and ensure that the data is passed on. It's a task that only the most hardened of hearts can accomplish... a task that begins to blur the distinction between human and machine.
Such is the premise of Sentou Yousei Yukikaze
(戦闘妖精・雪風, lit. Battle Fairy Yukikaze
), a science fiction novel written by Chōhei Kambayashi & originally published in 1984. It is actually a collection of short stories that ran in Hayakawa's SF Magazine
beginning in 1979. A sequel novel titled Good Luck, Yukikaze
was published in 1999 (like its predecessor, this was also a collection of short stories that began in 1992). Kambayashi revised the original novel to make it more consistent with the sequel and this updated version was published in 2002.
Also beginning in 2002, the franchise began to expand. A five-episode OVA series loosely based on the two novels was produced by GONZO
and Bandai Visual. It was released in Japan from August 28, 2002 to August 25, 2005 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 it in its English language networks across Southeast Asia and other networks worldwide. These OVAs are the version of the story most familiar with non-Japanese audiences. An English dub was produced by Bandai Entertainment
A few months before the final episode aired, a spinoff OVA was released called Sentou Yousei Shoujo: Tasukete, Mave-chan! translation
. It has nothing to do with the main plot and is about Anthropomorphic Personifications
of the aircraft at an anime convention.
Around the same time the OVAs were being released, a brief 6-chapter manga written by Yumi Tada was also published. The manga goes into a little more detail on Rei's backstory, though the canonicity of it may be questionable. There was also an Xbox game created in December 2003 called Sentou Yousei Yukikaze: Yousei no Mau Sora translation
and played as a flight sim in the vein of Ace Combat
, but to no one's surprise, it was not successful due to the Xbox's unpopularity in Japan. It received a PC port in 2004.
The original novel is considered a groundbreaking work of literature within Japan: some have even compared it to Starship Troopers
in terms of how it affected the Japanese hard sci-fi genre. Sentou Yousei Yukikaze
and Good Luck, Yukikaze
both won the prestigious Seiun Award
in 1985 & 2000, respectively. Kambayashi himself was ranked #3 of Best Japanese Sci-Fi Writers of All Time in a 2006 poll
conducted by Hayakawa's SF Magazine
For the longest time, the books were out of reach for almost everyone outside of Japan. It wasn't until 2010 that publishing house Haika Soru
released an English translation of the first novel (titled simply Yukikaze
). The second novel was translated in 2011.
David Drake (yes, that David Drake
) read the first novel and loved it if his endorsement on the cover is anything to go by.
There is a third book called Unbroken Arrow
and was published in 2009 in Japan. To date, it has not received an English translation. But
Haika Soru has hinted
that they may commission a translation should sales of the first two novels pick up.◊
A live-action film adaptation of the series is currently in development
and is set to star Tom Cruise
. In July 2013, Dan Mazeau, the screenwriter for Wrath of the Titans
joined the project.
Tropes found in this series (folders arranged in rough chronological order of release):
open/close all folders
- Ace Pilot: Lt. Fukai.
- Acronym and Abbreviation Overload: As expected for a hard sci-fi military series. Both the DVDs & the first novel contain glossaries to help the audience keep track of what the dozens of acronyms that appear in series mean.
- Adaptation Distillation: The anime almost entirely excises everything related to the political & military tensions between the FAF & the UN. Except for a brief moment in Operation 04 when Rei doubts they'll be able to land on the Japanese Navy's carrier, this is never brought up in the show. It is an essential plot point in the novels and devotes no fewer than three chapters to explore the implications of this situation.
- Adaptational Heroism: Colonel Rombert in the anime. He stages a mutiny to fool the JAM into wasting their time attacking Faery Base and buy time for the FAF fleet to escape. The civilians he slaughter appear to be holographic projections created by Yukikaze. In the end, he shoots himself in the arm and reveals he's a JAM as the orange sludge begins creeping out of his blood, showing that despite this he still remains loyal to humanity. His sacrifice is portrayed as a great and selfless act. In Good Luck, Yukikaze, he is not a JAM, but he stages the coup to destabilize the FAF in order to take control of the JAM with the help of their human clones. He executes several innocent System Corps. technicians through use of the BAX-4 Powered Armor while maneuvering his agents into place. It's also questionable whether he actually means to take over the JAM, considering that every other word out of his mouth is a lie. His entire mission was authorized by General Linneberg of Intelligence in order to make contact with the JAM and learn more about them, even if it meant destroying the entire FAF. His status at the end of the novel is unknown; when last we saw him, he was fleeing from the JAM clones after betraying them.
- AI Is A Crap Shoot: Zigzagged all over the place, and also depending on novel or anime.
- 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.
- Also played straight in the final operation: the new JAM AWACS-type aircraft interfere with the radar and IFF systems in the FAF fleet, which causes their drones to attack friendly aircraft while ignoring the JAM. Only the Flip Knight drones are unaffected because they are directly linked to Yukikaze, who is smart enough to target the enemy AWACS to stop the jamming.
- In the novels, the SAF Tactical Computer (STC) also declares in no uncertain terms to Jack Booker that it considers the JAM to be the enemy. On the other hand, it also killed Lt. Amata to prevent Yukikaze from crashing into his snow grader. Much later, the SAF Strategic Computer (SSC) 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. Earlier, it did not respond to a truce offer from the JAM because it wanted to know why the JAM was making such an offer. The SSC's hesitance proved fortuitous, as shortly after the JAM decided to declare war on the entire FAF.
- Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Banshees. Good Luck, Yukikaze tells us there were only ever two of them, even though their names are Banshee-III and Banshee-IV. They were built in low-orbit and are unable to land on the ground.
- Banshee-IV is taken over by the JAM and must be destroyed. In the anime, the FAF nukes it. In the novel, it crashes thanks to Tom John's sabotage. In the manga, Rei destroys it by launching missiles at it after escaping.
- Banshee-III leads the evacuation back to Earth in the anime's finale. In the novels, it suddenly and inexplicably explodes at the end of Good Luck, Yukikaze. The explosion is most likely due to JAM sabotage, and its destruction happens right as the FAF descends into a disastrous Civil War.
- Alien Sky: This one's green and has two suns. The novel also talks about the "Bloody Road", a trail of red gas that is erupting out of one of the suns that really does look like its namesake and is easily visible in the night sky.
- Anti-Hero: Rei, though instead of being dark and edgy he's just deeply antisocial.
- Attack Drone: The Faery Air Force makes abundant use of these. One of the themes of the story is whether or not war can be fought entirely with machines and AIs instead of with humans. In the novels, the FAF and Systems Corps are eagerly pushing for massed UCAV deployment, which the SAF resists as it would also entail converting all 13 Super Sylphs into drone planes.
- Author Appeal: The manga's creator, Yumi Tada, was responsible for the character designs in the anime and was also a story consultant for it. It was her input that increased the Ho Yay between Rei & Booker as well as Rei's Adaptational Angst Upgrade.
- Body Surf: Yukikaze eventually uploads herself out of the Super Sylph and into an FRX-99 frame.
- Cargo Ship: Even partially lampshaded and deconstructed in-universe.
- Continuity Snarl: The backstories for the characters that are presented in the manga differ rather significantly from other sources, such as this supplemental book that was released with the anime.
- 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 in the anime. The novels don't mention actual brand names, but Rei has two bullpup SMGs stashed in Yukikaze as survival guns that fire .221 caliber bullets. The only detail the novels reveal about the FAF pistols is that they have a 13-round capacity and use 9mm bullets, which may make them the Browning Hi-Power, or something completely fictional.
- 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.
- Dirty Coward: How Rei, and by extension, all the SAF pilots, are viewed by many FAF pilots. The sentiment is understandable: Super Sylphs are far faster and just as heavily armed as the standard jets the FAF uses and could definitely turn the tide of battle around. But their rules of engagement require them to do nothing and flee at the first sign of danger.
- Elaborate Underground Base / Underground City: The SAF's hangars and facilites qualify, being underground (Operation 01 showcases a bit of what launching a Super Sylph entails, from underground hangar to runway). Operation 05 reveals there is an entire underground city to provide for the FAF personnel, complete with skyscrapers and a red-light district. The novel even adds there is an artificial sky.
- Elite Army: Subverted. Boomerang Squadron of the SAF is comprised of 13 Super Sylphs, which are heavily modified variants of the Sylphid fighter jet designed to have incredible speed and sensor capabilities. In turn, they are manned by some of the best pilots in the entire FAF. But their mission is to never engage the JAM and only to dispassionately record everything they see.
- Establishing Character Moment: One of the first things Rei does in both the book and anime is to launch missiles at what appears to be a friendly aircraft solely based off of Yukikaze's judgment. He's also doing this over the strong protests of the Guy in Back, proving that he puts far more trust in an AI's judgment than another human or even his own eyes.
- Expy: The Super Sylph's novel and anime designs are evocative of the F-15S/MTD and the Su-27 Flanker family respectively.
- Frickin' Laser Beams: The Free Electron Laser Unit attached to the Flip Knights. They see extensive use for the anime's final battle. The novel doesn't give a formal name to the lasers and averts the trope by detailing that the lasers have a near perfect accuracy rating (unless you can outrun the speed of light), are unaffected by weather conditions, and fire in 0.7 second bursts with the cannon having a 1.95 degree turn radius. The anime shows this to be quite true as the lasers fire a continuous beam in pulses.
- Genius Loci: Faery. Even in-universe, it's speculated that the planet itself could be JAM.
- Ghost Ship: The compromised Banshee-IV is definitely this.
- 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 Faery has basically turned into a human invasion of Faery for military and monetary gains, and is used by Earth nations to further their own individual interests. This is certainly the case in the anime; in the second novel this "Earth is invading Faery for resources" story is a lie that the JAM clones tell to Gavin Mayle to try to make him do a Face-Heel Turn. He doesn't believe it, so they murder him.
- Great Offscreen War: The anime showed the opening shots of the JAM invasion 30 years ago, but other than that, we don't know much about what happened.
- Guy in Back: Rei has a tendency to lose them.
- Forever War: It has been over 30 years of fighting between the FAF and the JAM, though the war has de-escalated into a medium-intensity conflict that largely consists of patrols shooting at each other day in and day out. Neither side has gained much of anything.
- High-Speed Missile Dodge: All fighters attempt this, with results varying greatly. Yukikaze, unsurprisingly, has the best success, followed by the Copy Super Sylph and the rest of the JAM.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: Jack and Rei.
- Human Resources: The soup Rei is served in the second half of the first episode/last chapter of the first book. Eww.
- Improbable Piloting Skills: An example of which is seen in Operation 01/Chapter VI of the first book, where Yukikaze does a 180 degree flat spin, flying backwards, to shoot down a missile. And in the anime, it was a nuclear missile, too.
- Ineffectual Loner: Lt. Fukai most of the time, 'cept with his one and only friend, Jack, his plane, Yukikaze, and Tom John.
- Inscrutable Aliens / Starfish Aliens: The JAM, probably. This is also probably how the JAM see humans.
- Intrepid Reporter: Lynn Jackson. Later in the plot, she uses all her connections to get passage on the Japanese aircraft carrier Admiral 56 to meet with Rei & Booker, and witnesses a dogfight between the JAM against Yukikaze and the Japanese Navy that came perilously close to sinking the ship she was on.
- 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... on the other hand that doesn't suspend the need for an aerodynamic design, on the contrary to make full use of the enhanced maneuverability made possible by relaxed stability the aircraft has to be even more aerodynamic than traditional designs (compare F-16, Su-27, Rafale, Gripen, F-22 with F-35, F-4, F-105)
- Kaiju Defense Force: The Japanese Navy appears in Operation 04/Chapter VII - Battle Spirit, supplying a carrier battlegroup to guard the Passageway, implying that Article 9 was revoked when the JAM invaded.
- Land of Faerie: Why the Haika Soru translation chooses to spell the planet's name as Faery.
- 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
- Manipulative Bitch: Cooley, and she's one of the good guys.
- 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.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The JAM are suspected to be this in-universe. In the novel, the swarm of JAM that attacks Tom on Banshee-IV appears to be a collection of tiny insect-like creatures that feel metallic to the touch, and they can combine to become a bigger entity. In the anime's final episode, they create some kind of massive white dome around the Passageway that shatters like glass when Rei & the Flip Knights punch through it.
- They're also suspected to be a sort of Hive Mind. We never find out.
- 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, the JAM: 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.
- The Super Sylph unit Boomerang Squadron is called that because they always return from their missions.
- Yukikaze herself was named after the real-life IJN destroyer in World War II. It was one of only 2 Japanese destroyers (out of a total of 82) to survive the war intact.
- Mid-Season Upgrade: Yukikaze transfers its AI from an FFR-31MR/D Super Sylph into the FRX-99 prototype (it was the FRX-00 i.e. the manned variant in the novels). Later, in Operation 04, the FFR-41 Mave receives new engines. This upgrade happened much earlier in the novel when Yukikaze was still a Super Sylph.
- Mid Air Refueling: Tankers make appearences every now and then, and are often seen refueling the FAF Fighters. However, in the Anime, there's not much joking going on as in many of the cases the pilots are reeling from watching half of their formation getting sent to the ground in pieces.
- Mildly Military: SAF seems to be more lax when it comes to uniform codes.
- Multinational Team: The FAF is made up of people from many different countries. From the characters we meet, Jack is British, Rei is Japanese, Tom John is a Canadian Native American, and Cooley & Foss are Americans. General Gibril Laitume's ethnicity is not specified, but his first name is the Arabic version of "Gabriel." That, coupled with his darker complexion in the anime indicates he may be of Middle Eastern descent. Ansel Rombert is probably German, and the novel also has a few other Japanese characters, such as 2nd Lt. Amata, 2nd Lt. Yagashira, & Akira Katsuragi from the Intelligence Forces. Finally, the second novel also has a French chef as a minor character.
- Mysterious Antarctica: Humanity's first contact with the JAM occurs when they open their Passageway on the Ross Ice Shelf and utterly destroy the McMurdo Research Station.
- Non-Action Guy: Jack and Tom John.
- No Social Skills: Rei, and by extension all the pilots of Boomerang Squadron. Their job really does demand a strong emotional detachment from the rest of the FAF's people, considering they end up watching fellow pilots die and are required not to react to it. The result is that even when off-duty, they say very little and emote even less.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: Very strongly averted, especially for a Japanese series. Nuclear weapons are shown and explicitly identified as such regularly, and both sides have them.
- Our Wormholes Are Different: The JAM-created Passageway that connects Earth and Fairy. For a series that is remarkably on the hard side of science fiction, the Passageway is the one sci-fi element that isn't really explained in much detail.
- Powered Armor: Suits of powered armor show up in the final episode of the anime as well as the final chapter of Good Luck, Yukikaze. The novel explains it as part of the Intelligence Forces' attempt to create an army on Faery. The novel also refers to it as the BAX-4 suit, which is inconsistent with the anime.
- Psychic Link: Rei and Yukikaze seem to share one, somehow. It's never fully explained in the anime. Good Luck, Yukikaze reveals, however, that Rei's vital stats are being monitored by the SAF tactical computer, and it is sharing that information with Yukikaze.
- 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).
- Kambayashi also did quite a bit of work to make sure that the aerial combat & flight scenes were depicted accurately in the novel. Neil Nadelman, the English translator, also worked on the OVA's translation and he even admitted on this Livejournal page that he mistranslated Burgadish's title as "Radar Intercept Officer" in the anime. He corrected it for the novel as "Electronic Warfare Officer."
- Spell My Name with an "S" : Related to theme naming below, most official material can't get the reporting name of F/A-1 and F/A-2 correct; it's either "Fawn"note , "Faun"note or "Fand"note .
- Also, Jack's surname is rendered as Bukhar in the anime and Booker in the translated novels.
- The designation for the new Yukikaze body frame. The FRX-99 Wraith, and finally FFR-41MR Mave. In the novels one of the FRX-99 units is nicknamed "Rafe" while Yukikaze is the FFR-41 Maeve. The "Rafe" nickname is explicitly pointed out by Rei as meaning "Counsel of the wolf" and that it was Booker who gave it the name.
- The English dub goofed on Foss's name in Operation 02, referring to her as "Forth." Subsequent episodes corrected this, probably because Foss's name appears on computer screens properly spelled out.
- The Japanese logos translate "Yousei" as "Fairy." The Haika Soru translation spells it "Faery." This review of the novel refers to an essay written by J. R. R. Tolkien (On Fairy-Stories) to note that there is a subtle but significant difference in meaning between the two words and praises the translators for picking up on that. See Land of Faerie.
- Meanwhile, due to the peculiarities of the Japanese language, the writer's last name can be acceptably Romanized as either "Kambayashi" or "Kanbayashi."
- Terse Talker: It's rare to hear Rei speak a sentence longer than ten words in the anime. He's more talkative in the novels, but at the same token the novels also note that the nature of the war on Faery ends up dehumanizing most of the FAF's personnel so they talk like this.
- Theme Naming: The alien planet is named Faery; 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).
- There Are No Therapists: Obviously averted with Captain Foss. She's also the one that deconstructed the Fukai-Yukikaze Cargo Ship in-universe. It becomes practically Anvilicious in the novel.
- There Is No Kill Like Overkill: JAM's tactical antiaircraft missiles carry nuclear warheads. Also, how the JAM destroy TAB-14 in the novel: first a massive wave of high-velocity missiles, then JAM bombers crash into the base. The explosions that follow are so huge that even the hardened underground bunkers are destroyed.
- Trading Bars for Stripes: The novel and the short manga adaptation explains that most of the FAF's personnel are criminals who have been sent to Faery by national governments that don't want to deal with them. In the early stages of the JAM conflict, the ratio of volunteers to non-volunteers was much higher, but by the time the novel takes place, non-volunteers now outnumber the volunteers of the FAF. Jack is suspected by many of his subordinates to be a criminal thanks to a nasty scar on his face. He's not. The scar came from a mundane accident years ago when a boomerang he made came back and smacked him in the face.
- Triang Relations: Sort of, between Jack, Rei and Yukikaze. Much more prominent in the anime; the novel shows Jack is simply concerned for Rei's mental state, as getting attached to a machine is very unhealthy.
- 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.
- 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. Oh, and nuclear weapons too.
- 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 05, sending their Super Sylphs into combat with air-to-air loads, and showing them to be quite effective.
- Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Tom John. Rei as well, compared to his novel counterpart. And even Yukikaze!
- Adaptational Attractiveness: The nasty facial scar Jack sports in the novel is completely absent in the OVA.
- Aerial Canyon Chase: Rei chases Copy Sylph into a canyon in Operation 01.
- Amazing Technicolor Battlefield: Arguably, thanks to the Alien Sky setting.
- Anthropomorphic Personification: Played straight in the first episode, where Rei dreams of Yukikaze as a caged fairy, and himself holding the key to set her free.
- The really really bad spin-off Tasukete, Mave-chan! in which the various aircraft are represented by... you'll never guess... cute girls.
- Awesome Personnel Carrier: The BAX-4 APC which only appeared in the anime. In the novel, BAX-4 referred to the Powered Armor the soldiers wore. In the anime, the suits were unnamed.
- Batman Gambit: Cooley pulls one off in Operation 05.
- 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.
- Bittersweet Ending : Oh boy...
- 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.
- 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.
- Chekhov's Gun: A small one in Operation 02: 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 03, 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.
- Combat Pragmatist: TS-X1 shows instances of this.
- Coming In Hot: In Operation 04, after Rei and Yukikaze travel to Earth and defeat the 3 JAM that followed him through the portal.
- Operation 05 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 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.
- 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. Averted in the novel where the JAM can independently develop new tech.
- Dead All Along: The original Tom "Tomahawk" John.
- Defcon Five: An aversion of this trope, as General Laitume correctly orders the FAF fleet to go to Defcon One in the final episode right before they engage thousands of JAM that have formed a literal wall around the Passageway.
- Dream Sequence: Both Rei and Jack have them, involving Yukikaze as an actual fairy.
- Dull Eyes of Unhappiness: Rei while comatose/catatonic.
- Evolving Credits: The opening changes in Operation 03 to reflect Yukikaze's new upgrade.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: The epilogue shows Jack with long, long hair.
- Evil Counterpart: Copy Sylph to Yukikaze. It's piloted by Copy Rei.
- 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 01. 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 04, as the Admiral Isoroku scrambles its air wing to intercept the JAM fighters.
- Another sequence, more untraditional, occurs in Operation 05, when whole squadrons of fighters launch out of Banshee-III after the fleet goes to full alert.
- Final Battle: And what a 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.
- Gecko Ending: The second novel ended on a massive Cliffhanger, so the anime had to come up with its own ending. The evacuation of Faery is something that did not happen in the novel. However, it still uses plenty of elements from the novel. Evacuating Faery was considered in the novel but rejected, Jack also tells Rei to come back alive at all costs when he's about to fly into a major furball against the JAM, & the mutiny against the FAF happens but for completely different reasons.
- Go Out with a Smile: Colonel Ansel Rombert, after he accomplishes his mission.
- Heroic BSOD: Lt. Fukai, after Yukikaze's first Heroic Sacrifice. He spends most of his time in a wheelchair with a Thousand-Yard Stare.
- 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.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Yukikaze, twice. Lt. Fukai once.
- Copy Tom, helping Rei escape the doomed Banshee.
- He's Just Hiding: An in-universe example. Jack tells Lynn Jackson in the ending that he doesn't accept that Rei died destroying the Passageway, and that he must be living a happy life somewhere.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each episode of the OVA is referred to as "Operation".
- Kill Steal: An FAF pilot complains that an FRX drone "stole my kill" in the final episode. He probably stopped complaining once the JAM AWACS took over the drones.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: The FAF finally decides to end the 30+ year-long war in Operation 05 by abandoning Fairy and collapsing the hyperspace Passageway behind them on their way out.
- Lighter and Softer: Operation 04 at least, until the cliffhanger.
- Living MacGuffin: Rei and Yukikaze become this as the JAM seem to have a strange fixation to capture them at all costs.
- Love Hurts: Poor Jack. Whether you see his affection for Rei as platonic or romantic, it hurts all the same.
- Ludicrous Precision: The JAM treat 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.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Justified in the Climatic Battle when Yukikaze takes over just about every plane in the FAF.
- Earlier in Operation 04 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.
- Mood Whiplash: Operation 01. After a wham moment that sends Rei into a Heroic BSOD, a bright cheery ED theme plays.
- Mythology Gag: This track from the show's OST is called "Forest of Antenna", which is more than likely a reference to the first novel's third chapter Mysterious Battle Zone. Ironically, this chapter did not get animated.
- 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 Party Like a Donner Party: The "soup" that Rei is given when he held in the JAM-copied FAF Tactical Air Base in Operation 01 turns out to be the liquified remains of his radar intercept officer, Richard Burgadish. 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, all remaining FAF bases are destroyed with nukes after evacuation, and then 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!
- Old-School Dogfight: Much of the combat between the FAF and JAM takes place using short-ranged heatseeking missiles and guns. Operations 01 and 04 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.
- Oh, Crap: Quite a few:
- In Operation 01, a Mass "Oh, Crap!" is shared by several FA-1 squadrons when informed a JAM antiaircraft missile is heading their way. It becomes obvious why, moments later, after the nuclear fireball and mushroom cloud.
- When Rei confirms to the SAF that JAM are making human replicas.
- The JAM somehow pull off one of these just before they slam into the ground in Operation 02.
- Some of the FAF pilots in the final episode definitely display this attitude when they see the white dome blocking the Passageway that is built purely out of JAM bodies.
- 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.
- Punch a Wall: Or rather, Punch A Window in Operation 03.
- Ramming Always Works: One of the Type-2s in Operation 04 sinks a Japanese destroyer by crashing into it.
- Restraining Bolt: Yukikaze and the act of flying serve as this for Rei. Without them, he'll rebel against authority or just wallow in angst and despair. Jack is a minor one, unless Rei thinks Jack will prevent him from flying.
- Rule of Cool: The designing team specifically stated that they threw all aerodynamic principles out of the window to make the planes, especially Yukikaze, look cooler.
- The Super Sylph design still seems aerodynamically plausible.
- Hey, if the X-02 and Falken from the Ace Combat series ended up to be proven aerodynamically plausible, the FFR-31 MR/D Super Sylph and FRX-99 / FRX-00 / FFR-41 MAVE should be reasonably fine.
- Sinister Geometry: The JAM aircraft are made up of all hard angles and vibrate constantly when they're emitting ECM. The Type-1 craft look like a cross between a manta ray and a Wraith fighter while the Type-2 more closely resembles a bat. The only soft curves in any JAM craft are found in the AWACS-style aircraft they deploy in the final episode.
- The Stinger: End of Operation 02. 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".
- Surprisingly Good English: The doctor's report on Rei's mental state in Operation 02.
- 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.
- They Look Like Us Now: The JAM initially copy Earth's technology (e.g. weapons and aircraft) before later copying humans themselves.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Copy Tom when he realizes he's actually a JAM.
- Trouble Magnet Gambit: Cooley sending both Rei and Copy Tom together on a mission, on purpose. Jack doesn't like it, at all.
- Whole Episode Flashback: It's not until the end when you realize it's Jack who has been narrating the events of Operation 05, 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 the 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 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, and understandably so, expensive.
- Anachronic Order: The manga constantly jumps back and forth between the present day and flashbacks.
- Artificial Limbs: Tom John's right leg is metal. This leg and his plutonium-powered heart are the only parts of his body that the JAM attack.
- Because I'm Good at It: Rei's justification for being a criminal is because he got fired from his other jobs for speaking his mind. At least the jewel thief gang accepts him as one of their own.
- Berserk Button: A very mild one, but after winning a game of cards, Jack found that one of his prizes was one of the players' wedding ring. Even though he says he divorced his wife a long time ago, Jack gave the ring back to the guy and firmly told him never to bet that ring again.
- Compressed Adaptation: The manga is a very shortened retelling of Chapters I, IV, & VIII of the first novel with some original Backstory content thrown in, with many an Adaptation Induced Plot Hole unless you read the book.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Rei's father attempted to kill him and (a boy who was presumably) his brother before he committed suicide by hanging himself in their house. Rei happened to wake up with an electric cord around his neck and his brother laying dead next to him before finding his father's body. He was only a child when this happened, which drove him to be very cold and unresponsive to people. As an adult, Rei served as a Getaway Driver for a gang of jewel thieves until he got apprehended by police and sent to Faery.
- Tomahawk John's heart was severely damaged when he was stabbed with a knife. Details are scarce, but it appears he was the instigator of that altercation. In the end, John's family had to sell all their houses to afford his artificial heart. Except for his mother, they seemed to do so quite reluctantly, with even a male relative referring to John's heart as "wicked." On Faery, John refuses to defend himself when a pilot harasses him, saying he swore never to hurt someone again. He also makes a vague comment to Rei that he used to treat everyone as his enemy.
- Jack Booker's son Jaime died in an unspecified accident while he was deployed as a fighter pilot. His wife Alicia resented him for putting his career over his family, and it is strongly hinted they got divorced. While Jack is visiting his daughter, an older female relative (probably his mother or his mother-in-law) tells him that Alicia is seeing a doctor now, and begs him to give up piloting. Clearly, he did not.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Major Yazawa holds Rei at gunpoint and holds up a laptop to enter the authorization code to access Yukikaze's systems. In response, Rei smashes the laptop over his head and then uses his gun to shoot him in the foot. It helps that it's a rugged military-style laptop made of steel.
- Sapient Ship: The JAM-controlled Banshee-IV kills Tom John by attacking him with some kind of device that fires cutting lasers. John eventually gets completely vaporized by them.
- Social Services Does Not Exist: Averted, as Rei did get placed with a foster family after his father's suicide.
- Tragic Keepsake: The only thing Rei kept of his father was his watch. He was very distraught when his adoptive family threw it away to help overcome the past. It wasn't thrown away. Rei found it while rifling for some money in his stepdad's drawer. He eventually lost it during a heist when his robbery gang had to burn a building down to destroy evidence and he dropped it.
- Undercover Cop Reveal: Rei's boss in the jewel thief gang turned out to be an undercover cop who set them all up to get arrested. But he did try to convince Rei to leave his life of crime behind before it happened.