Light Novel: To Aru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku aka: Toaru Hikushi E No Tsuioku
"This is a story... that takes place over one summer—
A story of love and aerial combat."
A light novel by Koroku Inumura which was later adapted into an animated movie by Studio Madhouse, Remembrances for a Certain Pilot (とある飛空士への追憶 To Aru Hikūshi e no Tsuioku; also known as The Princess and the Pilot) tells the story of Charles Karino, a mercenary pilot serving under the Levahm Airforce, who is tasked an important mission: to ferry Princess Fana del Moral, only daughter of the ruling family of San Matilia and fiancee to the crown prince of the Empire of Levahm, safely across twelve thousand kilometers of open ocean to the mainland. The sheer distance of the trip is daunting enough, but throw in the fact that Levahm is currently at war with the neighboring Empire of Amatsukami, and whose armed aerial navy and air force patrol those waters, and one can see that the mission is anything but easy.Directed by Jun Shishido and featuring adapted character designs by Hidenori Matsubara, Remembrances for a Certain Pilot is a tale of adventure (and a bit of romance), told amidst the backdrop of war.The movie was first shown in theaters on October 1, 2011, and is available for purchase on DVD/Blu-rays as of February 24, 2012.No relation to A Certain Magical Index. It is, however, related to Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, which takes place in the same universe.
Ace Custom: The plane that Charles pilots, the Santa Cruz, is essentially just an up-spec'd version of the usual naval recon plane. Although it's faster than the rest of the planes Levahm fields, it's still noted to be slower than the main line fighter of the Amatsukami Airforce, the Shinden.
Ace Pilot: Charles is the best pilot of his mercenary wing (it's the reason why he was chosen for the mission to begin with). Also the Amatsukami pilot he duels with at the climax of the movie.
Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: A very minor version. Fana ups and drinks half a bottle of rum (which she had been using as antiseptic for Charles' wounds), and in less than a minute is trying to teach Charles to waltz. This, despite Charles firmly insisting that, as a commoner, he wouldn't even have any reason to do so.
Anachronism Stew: Not really obvious at first, given the flying battleships that both Levahm and Amatsukami field, but it's surprising to have World War II-style planes being chased by heat-seeking missiles... launched by said flying battleships.
Cool Plane: The Shinden, the main fighter of the Amatsukami Airforce. It is based on the real-life Kyushu J-7W Shinden , a World War II-era prototype that never got beyond the drawing table. Kind of fitting, given how the conflict between Levahm and Amatsukami seems to parallel that particular global conflict.
The Empire: Two of them, on opposite sides of the war.
Everything Is Better With Princesses: Fana is consistently called "Your Highness" through the movie (except for the Say My Name moment), given she's the daughter of a ruling family and is betrothed to the crown prince of the Levahm empire.
Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Empire of Levahm seems to be Imperial Spain transposed into the start of the Twentieth Century, while the Empire of Amatsukami is World War II-era Imperial Japan.
Fantastic Racism: As a bestado (a mixed-blood child of a Levahm and an Amatsukami native), Charles is generally treated like dirt by many people of Levahm, especially those in the military hierarchy. Only Fana and the other pilots of his mercenary wing treat him differently.
Forgotten Childhood Friend: Charles' mother was Fana's nursemaid, and Charles himself spent a part of his childhood tending the gardens of the del Moral family estate, before his mother was unceremoniously dismissed by Fana's father.
The Greatest Story Never Told: Charles' identity was thoroughly-erased from the historical records, that only after someone stumbled upon a record of Operation Black-Tailed Gull — long after both Fana and Charles have died — that the Operation came to light — and even then the one who brought the whole thing to light never found out what happened to Charles in the end. See A True Story In My Universe above.
Heroic Sacrifice: All done off-screen however. The Levahm commander in charge of San Matilia sends his entire air wing, including Charles' mercenary buddies, in a diversionary attack against Amatsukami positions so that the Santa Cruz can slip out of the island undetected. Charles morosely mentions later that many of the pilots sent out won't likely come back alive.
High-Speed Missile Dodge: During the first ambush, Charles has to deal with several heat-seeking missiles. He proceeds to lose some of them in the sea, and then lead the rest into...
Hoist By Their Own Petard: One of the battleships that participates in the first ambush on the Santa Cruz is destroyed by some of its own heat-seeking missiles when the Santa Cruz flies upwards and past it.
Important Haircut: Fana cuts her hair short after treating Charles' wounds, given its length was starting to annoy her.
The Klutz: Fana can be like this, as demonstrated when she falls off the plane and into the ocean twice.
Oh Crap: Charles experiences several of these over the course of the flight. Then again being surrounded by a dozen flying battleships twice, then being chased by a squad of fighters determined to shoot your plane down can do that to a person.
Parental Abandonment: Charles' mother Chise died when he was a child not too long after she was dismissed by Fana's father, and Fana's father was killed during an Amatsukami air raid on their residence.
Reasonable Authority Figure: The captain of the Special Operations ship that Princess Fana is taken aboard in the end is definitely one, giving stern stares at the greedy imperial officer and allowing Fana to see Charles one last time.
Say My Name: Charles calls out to Fana when it seems the Amatsukami ace is about to shoot them down, prompting Fana to use the machine gun in time and damage their enemy's plane.
Scenery Porn: The background scenery throughout the movie is absolutely gorgeous.
Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Zigzagged through the movie. At first, he says he's doing this as his final mission before retiring to live on an island with the sizeable wealth he'd gain from completing it. Then, he tells Fana that he always wanted to do a mission he would become proud of. Despite that, after safely delivering Fana to the Special Operations ship, he calmly accepts the large bag of gold dust as payment for the mission... only to throw it away as confetti while putting on one last aerial show for Fana and the ship's crew.
What an Idiot: Okay Prince Carlo, we understand you were worried about your fiancee's secret trip, but did you have to talk about it on a message sent by military telegraph, where your country's enemies would likely intercept it? Charles privately rants about it in-universe.
Worthy Opponent: The Amatsukami ace, Takeo Chijiwa (who is incidentally the protagonist of the third Light Novel), sees Charles as this, enough that he challenges him to a one-on-one dogfight.