Thursday, December 31, 2015

:anime: Free/Low-Cost Anime Pick of the Month:: The Princess and The Pilot (To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku)

The Princess and The Pilot (To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku)

Official Sites: Japanese, English
Additional Links: ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video [Free {Streaming}]: Crunchyroll, Hulu (Japanese with English subtitles at both)

Movie-watching is a big part of the holiday season, so I thought it would be appropriate to not only end the year with a movie, but quite a fine one, at that. The Princess and The Pilot (To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku) is a TMS Entertainment-produced (Akira, The Rose of Versailles, Yowamushi Pedal, Fuse: Memoirs of the Hunter Girl), Madhouse-animated film (ONE-PUNCH MAN, Chihayafuru, Death Parade, HUNTERxHUNTER) based on the quasi-fantasy airplane light novel series by Kokoru Inumura.

The plot is a pretty straightforward one—pilot must deliver a princess-to-be to her husband-to-be prince across enemy waters—but all is not so simple. The pilot in question is of mixed blood, and despite his skills, is often treated with disdain from fellow pilots and higher-ups. However, the times are desperate and running thin, so even they must utilize his services for the covert mission. The princess, meanwhile, is a quiet, though thoughtful, young woman who has resigned herself to her arranged marriage, as she has done with many things in her sheltered, aristocratic life. With the latest, fastest plane underneath him and strict instructions not to converse with the lady-in-waiting, the pilot and she take to the air on their dangerous journey…

With direction by The Story of Saiunkoko's Jun Shishido, a screenplay by frequent Mamoru Hosada film scribe Satoko Okudera (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, Wolf Children), original character design work by Lagrange - The Flower of Rin-ne's Haruyuki Morisawa (adapted by Hidenori Matsubara (Gankutsuou, Ah! My Goddess, King of Thorn)), and a score by Shiroh Hamaguchi (ONE PIECE, GIRLS und PANZER), The Princess and The Pilot is one of those few works that fully feel like a sum of its talented parts (and that's not taking in consideration the studios behind it). The film is a very solid, professionally-handled piece that is both beautiful and compelling watch. In a number of ways, it feels like an old-fashioned Hollywood action movie with its style, aircraft, late 19th- to early 20th century-inspired setting, and wartime backdrop. In the hands of a lesser crew, the film's uncomplicated and straightforward story might have turned out terse or bland—in spite of the dogfighting and menacing airships—but the strong one assembled for TPTP manages to balance meaningful plot and character development with its brisk, yet sturdy, pacing. As such, the film is able to tell a complete, fulfilling story within its 99-minute runtime—as well as touch on matters such as bigotry and class disparity with deft along the way.

The Princess and The Pilot not only proves itself to be a fine movie from all aspects, but it also should make for a good date movie, providing something for both the ladies (the drama and romance) and the guys (the thrilling and tense action scenes)—though also provided that both of you are comfortable with reading subtitles, as the film lacks an English dub. If the movie indeed proves to your liking, you may want to also check out The Pilot's Love Song (To Aru Hikuushi e no Koiuta), a 2014 13-eps. adaptation of a later entry in Inumura's novel series animated by TMS themselves, but by a different crew.

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