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Light Novel / The Princess and the Pilot

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"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, The Princess and the Pilot (To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku) 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 The Pilot's Love Song and Toaru Hikuushi e no Seiyaku, which take 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.
  • Airborne Aircraft Carrier: The Amatsukami side has several of these. Charles gets an Oh, Crap! look whenever he spots one because it means they could be swarmed by lots of hostiles quickly.
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  • 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.
    • Not exactly impossible, because by the end of WW2, both US and UK have infrared seekers and air-to-air homing missiles in development.
  • Arranged Marriage: Carlo and Fana, although they grow fond of each other as soon as they meet.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Charles succeeds in his mission, is paid enough to last for three lifetimes, and Fana fosters peace between the warning nations, but they never see each other again and Charles is never publically recognized for his mission. In fact, he disappears from history after it.
  • Bling of War: Many of the higher ranks of the Levahm military, including the Crown Prince, sport lots of shiny medals. Charles, despite his ability, has none.
  • Bodyguard Crush: Downplayed in the movie, as Charles resists falling in love with Fana but he does admit that he considers her his 'hope' in the end. In the novel the two are implied to have developed feelings for each other during their sojourn at the archipelago, but Charles refuses to pursue his feelings out of duty to Levahm.
  • Cool Airship: Less like those in Last Exile or its sequel, more like World War II battleships like the Yamato, except carried aloft by massive prop engines.
  • Cool Plane: The Shinden, the main fighter of the Amatsukami Airforce. It is based on the real-life Kyushu J-7W Shinden [1], 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.
  • Consummate Professional: Charles takes all the abuse leveled at him from senior officers and enlisted men like water off a duck's back and answers questions seriously. His initial exchanges with Fana are practical and to-the-point. Even those that despise him for his mixed parentage recognize him as the best in the Levahm air force.
  • Disposable Fiancé: Averted; Prince Carlo is precisely as sincere and affectionate as he appears in his first scene and, though Fana suggests eloping to Charles, she ultimately marries Carlo.
  • The Empire: Two of them, on opposite sides of the war. Our hero works for one of them so they're considered even morally speaking.
  • 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.
  • Guy in Back: Fana makes herself useful in this capacity despite being a noble with minimal training (lookout but not gunnery). Interestingly, it's the Ace Pilot who gets hurt. She talks to him to keep him conscious.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: 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. All of this is off-screen.
  • 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 Deadly Dodging.
  • Hime Cut: Fana supports the classic look (even bangs, forelocks and waist length in the back) during her scenes as a child and also in the beginning. It gets messy after a couple days in a plane (and a couple dips into the sea) because she has no means of upkeep. Then she cuts most of it off.
  • 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.
  • I Can't Dance: Fana tries to get Charles to dance with her during one of the plane's pit-stops. He doesn't know how (on count of being a commoner with no reason to learn) and it means they fall into a suggestive position. At the ending, he "dances" in his plane, i.e. he shows off with various stunts.
  • 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.
  • The Medic: Fana shows extensive medical knowledge when Charles is injured during an escape from an enemy fleet; removing debris, cleaning the wound, disinfecting it with alcohol, and then bandaging him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Charles experiences several of these over the course of the flight. 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.
  • Private Military Contractors: Charles' airgroup is made up of mercenaries fighting for the Empire of Levahm.
  • 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.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: The epilogue states that Fana devoted herself to diplomacy following this mission.
  • 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 some of it away as confetti while putting on one last aerial show for Fana and the ship's crew.
  • Shared Universe: With The Pilot's Love Song.
  • Ship Tease: Between Charles and Fana. It's kind of expected, as the source novel is a romance novel. Specific tropes involved with the tease involve Bodyguard Crush and I Can't Dance.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Fana grows fond of Carlo because of his romantic, sweet nature. She's also ship teased with the benevolent, humble, and certified nice guy Charles.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In the beginning, Fana has enough trouble not slipping off the wings of the Santa Cruz. By the end, she helps Charles beat Amatsukami's top pilot in the climatic dogfight. She also develops a much sterner spine, going from effectively a living doll to an assertive woman who can make military officers stumble at her stare, as if she had slapped them.
  • A True Story in My Universe: The epilogue strongly implies that the whole Light Novel was the book of the same title published in-universe as an account of Charles' mission.
  • 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. It is reciprocated by Charles, who salutes him at the duel's conclusion.

Alternative Title(s): To Aru Hikushi E No Tsuioku, The Princess And The Pilot