1 Days Left to Support a Troper-Created Project : Personal Space (discuss)

YMMV / Area 88

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In the manga and OVA, are the mercenaries tormented souls who became soldiers of fortune to escape their tragic pasts? Or are they hypocrites who are using their dark and troubled pasts as cheap excuses to engage in warfare they know is immoral? Or was entering the Asran foreign legion more exciting that just getting therapy for their traumas?
    • Is Shin a reluctant warrior with a heartbreaking backstory, or a jerkass who abandoned his girlfriend and threw away his moral compass in the end?
    • Is Ryoko a beautiful example of undying loyalty and love, an immature idealist who is loving a shadow, or a disturbed young woman with a pathological obsession with her absentee boyfriend?
    • Is Saki a patriot who is defending his beloved homeland from Abdael's predation, or an angry son who would sacrifice his people to lash out at his father? Is he an elitist who refuses to relinquish his power, or a realist who understands why his backwards country is not yet ready for democracy?
    • Is Mickey naturally cheerful and charming, or is his friendliness a mask meant to hide his war trauma, cynicism, and regret?
  • Awesome Music: The OVA has a fantastic soundtrack, but "Good Bye Lonely Blue" really stands out. Being sung by MIQ is the icing on the cake. Plus, there's the epic intro song "How Far to Paradise" by Derek Jackson.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The debut of Saki's private soldiers in the manga, who vanish after the land carrier story arc.
    • The first OVA's otherwise melodramatic ending theme turns into what a commenter describes as "Indian circus music" at the end.
  • Designated Hero: The Area 88 mercenaries, who engage in war for pay. Despite being the protagonists, they're deliberately shown to be morally grey or even evil (i.e., Nguyen).
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: The lesson of the manga and OVA is that war is hell because it devastates countries and reduces soldiers to broken men. The problem is, the mercenaries look great as they're waging aerial battles.
  • Esoteric Happy Ending:
    • At the end of the manga, Soria, Rishar, and King Zak are left to transition Asran from a monarchy to a modern republic. While Asran's civil war is over and the people are jubilant, Asran's future is far from secure. First, the country's infrastructure and finances have been devastated by years of war. Second, the civil war has probably left Asran's people with deep resentments. Finally, the whole mess has been inherited by a conservative monarch, a wide eyed idealist, and an amnesiac who spent the previous two decades in cryogenic suspension. Suddenly, Asran's future doesn't look so bright ...
    • Also at the end of the manga, Ryoko reunites with Shin. Shin suffers from amnesia due to head trauma and does not remember his experiences at Area 88. On the surface, this appears to be a happy romantic reunion, until you realize that Ryoko will need to explain to Shin why he's in Asran and why years of his memory are missing. To boot, Shin will undoubtedly suffer from unconscious war trauma, even if he can't consciously recall his time at Area 88. Finally, Shin broke Ryoko's heart several times throughout the manga, suggesting that he has cold tendencies. In short, Ryoko has chosen to marry a deeply traumatized, amnesiac jerk, raising questions about what their life together will be life.
      • Considering Ryoko's personality, Shin's not exactly getting a good deal either...
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In the OVA and manga, the message is that taking part in war will turn you into a traumatized basketcase who cannot function in normal society ever again.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Saki's female bodyguards were a lighthearted nod to Gaddafi's Amazonian Guard. The arrangement seems a lot less sexy now that members of the real-life Amazonian Guard have accused Gaddafi and his sons of sexually assaulting them.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In the manga, Farina's land carrier deploys drones against enemy aircraft, much to the confusion of Area 88's pilots. Decades later, drones play important and deadly roles in war.
    • Civil war in a north African country? In which a family of autocrats deploys foreign mercenaries against opponents who want to oust them? The plot of Area 88 bears a resemblance to the 2011 civil strife in Libya, down to alleged use of mercenaries.
    • In issue 163, in which Toudou shouts "Allah is on our side!" while brandishing a scimitar in jest, is bound to make people in the post-9/11 world cringe.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In later manga that did not make it stateside, Mickey once put on an American colonial-era costume. Tea Party supporters would wear the same kind of costumes over two decades later.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Greg is referred to as fat in the manga. He's stout (but nowhere near obese) compared to the rest of the rail-thin cast.
  • Ho Yay: Mickey. In the TV series, Mickey can be seen reading Playgirl magazine (pics on the Characters page). In the OVA, he and Shin wind up playing tourist while on special assignment and end up in a place that mostly attracts couples. In all versions, he is at Area 88 because he could not adjust to civilian life after his return from Vietnam and had to break off an engagement. Did we mention that he was in the Navy?
    • Ho Yay between Shin and Mickey is even more pronounced in the manga. When Shin wakes up in the infirmary of Farina's land carrier and believes that Mickey has been shot down, he sheds enraged tears. When the two men are reunited in a holding cell aboard the carrier, the first thing they do is clasp each other's hands. Finally, when the two escape from the land carrier using stolen jets, they land in the Asran desert. Since Shin's feet were broken in a prior jet crash, Mickey offers to carry him, but Shin politely declines. They just don't write romance like that anymore...
    • Mickey and Rishar's first encounter in the manga also brimmed with ho yay. When Rishar first enters the infirmary, Mickey is shirtless and lying in bed. Later, the two engage in conversation while Mickey is getting dressed. At several points, Rishar gazes at Mickey almost affectionately.
    • Mario comes off as a little flirty when he meets Hoover for the first time.
  • Idiot Plot / Just Eat Gilligan:
    • In all continuities, a lot of problems could have been averted if Shin had simply picked up the phone and called Ryoko to tell her about his disappearance and Kanzaki's ambitions.
    • Asran's civil war could have been avoided if Abdael had simply shown King Zak the cryogenic chamber in which Soria was housed and explained why funding the country's medical system was vital to curing Soria's cancer.
  • Narm: Shin's enraged howl in the first OVA movie.
    (Japanese) "NAZE-KAAAAAAAA?"
  • Not So Crazy Anymore: The manga treated the use of armed drones in combat as alarming and strange. In the 21st century, drones are now an accepted part of warfare.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Shin and Ryoko in the manga. In Ryoko's flashback, she falls madly in love with Shin with little explanation as to what attracted them to each other. She also comes across as obsessive over Shin throughout the manga.
  • Superlative Dubbing: The English dub is very good. Chris Patton in particular does a great job as Shin.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Hoover was a promising character who received ample development, only to die off-screen early in the manga. Shintani may have realized this afterwards, since Hoover appears posthumously in Carlisle's flashback and Shin's dreams.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • In the manga and OVA, Shin is intended to be sympathetic because his dreams were crushed after he was tricked into becoming a mercenary. However, he's not a particularly heroic or moral character. His self-absorption, wangst, and failure to contact Ryoko during his deployment make him unsympathetic in some fans' eyes. In the TV anime, he's so emotionally flat and withdrawn that it's difficult to sympathize with him.
    • Mickey, a traumatized Vietnam veteran who struggled to adapt to civilian life, is intended to be sympathetic as well. However, he comes across as amoral, self-pitying, and self-absorbed, abandoning a fortunate life and the people who loved him. Instead of getting therapy, he chooses to fight in a bloody civil war that is tearing Asran apart. His anger issues and overbearing personality in the TV anime make him even less sympathetic.
  • What an Idiot:
    • Ryoko goes flying in a Cessna with Shin. While flying, they hit an air pocket, dropping a few hundred feet in the air. Ryoko pries one of Shin's hands off the controls!
    • Also Saki for putting a man with no depth perception in charge of leading jets through a narrow canyon.
  • Why Would Anyone Take Him Back?: Ryoko and Shin reunite at the end of the manga, after Shin has broken Ryoko's heart several times. Shin has amnesia from head trauma and does not remember Area 88 or his previous treatment of Ryoko.
  • Writer Cop Out: The "War is Hell" message is undermined by the ending (which didn't make it to the states) Shin is shot down in his final battle, gets amnesia and forgets everything about Area 88. He and Ryoko get married and live happily ever after. Amen. The manga was still in production when the OVA series was produced, so the OVA writers were free to come up with an ending of their own or leave it open ended for more sequels. They managed to do both somehow. This is why many consider the original OVA series ending superior in every way. It heavily suggests a Bolivian Army Ending.

The Area 88 video games (aka U.N. Squadron) contain examples of: