The Sky Crawlers Poster

The Sky Crawlers (2008)

Animation | Drama 
Rayting:   6.8/10 5356 votes
Country: Japan
Language: English

A group of eternally young fighter pilots known as Kildren experience the sudden loss of innocence as they battle the enemy in astonishing dogfights above the clouds.

Movie Trailer

User Reviews

Scrooge-3 19 December 2008

It is hard to write a coherent review of The Sky Crawlers without revealing major plot twists, but I will try. I advise you to see the movie without reading too much about it beforehand so that you can enjoy and think about what happens without bias. Do stick around for the epilog after the closing credits.

The Sky Crawlers is a thought-provoking alternate history that will appeal to literate science fiction fans. Mainstream audiences will undoubtedly be bored and confused by what happens in the film. The film examines weighty themes such as the meaning of war and the nature of memories. I was reminded of the recent death of famous amnesiac "HM" while watching The Sky Crawlers, as some of the characters suffer from a similar type of memory loss. Why they suffer this loss is one of the twists that will either spark heated discussion or bewilderment afterward. Like most good science fiction, The Sky Crawlers presents somewhat ambiguous characters and ideas. It is up to the viewer to interpret the meaning.

What worked: The CGI aerial combat sequences were amazing—dizzying and spectacular, with intricately designed air vehicles that spurred the imagination. The characters' emotional depths were thoroughly mined—although not always pleasantly so. The character design and art direction were top notch—the CGI segments were almost photo-realistic, and the 2D segments were beautifully drawn and lighted, too. The Basset Hound was cute.

What didn't work: The pacing was slow—this is a psychological drama, not an action adventure—and could have benefited from some judicious editing. Although I found the transitions from CGI to 2D and back to be perfectly fine, particularly after getting into the rhythm of the film, many viewers will likely find the transitions jarring.

If your tastes run more towards Blade Runner or A Clockwork Orange, you will probably appreciate The Sky Crawlers. If your tastes lean more towards Star Wars or The Incredibles, I advise you to see something else.

DICK STEEL 18 November 2008

The Sky Crawlers seem to live up to its name, that it really took its time to tell a story, but in doing so, allowed for the narrative to sink in. After all, it's brought to us by Mamoru Oshii, and as far as his filmography goes, this Japanese maestro's works is often deep, and have more than enough room for multiple viewings, each time allowing you to take away something different, or unnoticed from the previous time round.

Adapted by Chihiro Itou from Hiroshi Mori's story, you could see the themes that this movie had that would interest Oshii to be at the helm. They are nothing relatively new, as fans would see some similarities in the characters' struggle about their own existentialism, and what I enjoyed most, the connected thread between war and peace. It's like the notion of having to prepare for war that you get to enjoy some peace, and I guess every National Serviceman would have heard that at one point or another during their tour of duty.

While one can find some distinct parallels from Americanized films that pay homage or blatantly ripping off Oshii's earlier works, what I thought could have been toned down, was how toward the end, subtlety wasn't the rule of thumb, and almost every theory got explained verbatim. There were enough unanswered questions along the way to tickle your brain, leaving you guessing and drawing your own conclusions, but there were at least two crystal clear moments that decided to tell all and show all, taking away most of the fun. So in a way, you have less room to maneuver your thoughts during that after-movie discussion with friends.

I could imagine and understand any kid sitting inside a theatre hall having absolutely no patience for this masterpiece. Except for the opening sequence which had packed in the action at Top Gun pace, one's notion that this was going to be a war-action movie gets thrown out the window within 10 minutes. Naturally it has the potential to go in that direction by playing up and extending the aerial dogfights, but to do so would be to dumb this film down a lot of notches.

Granted its characters are pilots, and kid pilots at that, "Kildren" (I would like to think of it as Killer-Children) who don't seem to grow up, get careers in Corporations that seem to be waging war on behalf of nations, and pilot propeller-powered warplanes to engage their enemy in attacking and defending routines. Heck, there's even a Red Baron equivalent as the resident bogeyman too! They smoke, they kill (up in the air) and they make love, with nary an adult batting an eyelid, that you would deem them all turning a blind eye to their kids' shenanigans (of course there's a reason for this). Imagine the adults being quite nonchalant, and some even supportive, of kids fighting wars while they go about their daily lives, being quite unaffected other than being a feature in news bulletins.

So we follow the adventures, and mysteries weaved amongst the characters of Kannami Yuichi (voiced by Ryo Kase), base commander Kusanagi (Rinko Kikuchi of Babel fame, who had also collaborated in Oshii's omnibus movie Kill under the segment Assault Girl 2). The remaining supporting characters serve out their primary purpose, such as Tokino (Shosuke Tanihara) as the wingman/buddy, and Mitsuya (Chiaki Kruiyama, Kill Bill's Gogo Yubari) as the tell-all mouthpiece, which I thought that even without, the coda after the end credits roll would have summed it all up nicely.

This is Japanese anime, so its qua

bennyhagen 13 June 2010

It's astonishing how much heart and soul writer Hiroshi Mori and Ghost In The Shell director Mamoru Oshii managed to incorporate in this gently told, unique story despite the remote, but at the same time also strangely deep nature of it's characters. The discreet use of the beautiful visuals serves the movie - not the other way round - and though pretty slow-paced and without major cataclysms Sky Crawlers manages to keep up a fascinating and unique atmosphere till the very end.

I think everyone with a heart and an open mind will recognize this one as a rare gem.


Samiam3 27 March 2011

Just occasionally, you'll find a film where thew execution of drama over powers your awareness that the film is animated.

The Japanese style is arguable the most exploitative of animation, which is why Mamoru Oshii's rather minimal and refined approach which he brings to The Sky Crawlers is extraordinary in it way. The film is rather static with little physical movement, elongated cutting, wide open Kurosawa type shots, psychological use of color, light and shadow, and a haunting and mystic score. The film is kind of cold, but with a scene of mystery which makes it seductive. Even when we are up in the air with dozens of aircraft, gunfire, and spectacular balls of fire, the film maintains it's sense of calm. Oshiii handles it almost like a ballet. This is not a kids movie, and it's not for those with a short attention span. It it a deep slow psychological piece.

The ending is one that may divide an audience. Some will see it as giving The Sky Crawlers a sense of moral function, while others will argue that it makes the whole thing seem useless. I won't take either side. All I'll say is that I enjoyed the flight.

juliankennedy23 28 May 2009

The Sky Crawlers: (Sukai Kurora):7 out of 10: This is an adult anime...In fact this is a very adult anime. No there isn’t copious amounts of fan service or blood. (In fact the film is rated PG-13 primarily for smoking.) Instead Sky Crawlers has a very quiet, reserved pacing. It’s a two hour anime that feels like it clocks in at over three hours. Not boring per se but very deliberately paced with adult conversations, adult music and an overall adult tone that reminds one of Before Sunrise with occasional airborne dogfight to break up the relationship introspection.

The plot is both light (I will reveal that here) and quite heavy (I will let the movie itself surprise you with its philosophical underpinnings). On the light side is there is a special group of teenagers who are pilots that never grow old. The movie refers to them as Kildren and much is made of how they are just kids; but if you drive, fly, have sex, drink, and smoke a pack every 10 minutes of screen time your are at best a teen and in reality a young adult.

These Kildren fight in retro WW2 style aircraft against each other in an air war with no winners and no other casualties all to apparently satiate the public’s need for conflict. (Think Star Trek’s “A Taste of Armageddon”). There is a new pilot, a wingman and a couple of androgynous love interests with deep secret pasts. There is even a Red Baron character rumored to be an adult and a constant source of tension and conversation in both the dogfights and on the ground.

The Animation is simply awe inspiring. The CGI work is better than many a Hollywood blockbuster and the 2 dimensional cell shaded characters fit both the pacing and the mood of the film. The attention to detail is quite amazing overall.

Overall the film is recommended for fans of adult drama and serious anime. I do confess I did wish for longer sky battles, more realistic violence and even some fan service. It is ironic that one of the most adult anime I have ever seen suffers from a lack of adult thrills with its PG-13 rating.

hajj628 15 September 2009

I'll admit, it was difficult to get into the right mood to watch "Sky Crawlers." I was expecting one thing, a war film, and while there were moments of that, I found myself confronted with a world full of characters with human concerns, and a strict atmosphere that called upon the audience to pay attention to the details.

Having watched and enjoyed other films by Oshii (this one most resembling "Avalon" in tone and theme), I knew that I'd be in for something demanding and stoic, but I was also surprised by just how initially uncharismatic the two main characters were. However, as the film progressed, I found myself drawn in by their mysterious histories, and eventually deeply sympathizing with their tragedy.

To explain the nature of the pilots is to spoil the film, but rest assured, every frustration and question you have concerning the characters is answered by the end –just make sure you sit through the end of the credits! However, whether or not you are satisfied in the end is another question entirely. While the chaotic, crowd-pleasing dogfights and strikingly rendered landscapes are sure to get a rise out of any audience, the mystery of the characters themselves is initially impenetrable and unwelcoming.

On the other hand, Oshii's depiction of emotionally mature, personally tortured characters is a unique landmark in animation. While there have been other animated films concerned with serious character drama, few of them have chosen to completely eschew melodrama with the exacting discipline of this film.

The film strikes a strange balance between frenetic action scenes and serious character exploration. It won't please everyone. But if you enter "Sky Crawlers" with an open mind, you may find something exciting, brutal, and heartbreaking here.

Argemaluco 3 June 2009

I know not everybody appreciates the parsimonious style and deep subjects which have the films directed by Mamoru Oshii,but I am delighted by the existence of a filmmaker who always offers us scenes of an amazing visual beauty and exciting action,but which are always endorsed by fascinating ideas.I think there is not any other contemporary director who combines the tools from modern cinema with philosophical monologues,metaphysical fantasies and analysis of subjects like,for example,the conscience or the soul.In summary,Oshii is not afraid of making unaccessible films for the casual spectator.With every new movie,Oshii seems to be more far away from the "normal" narrative,because from the humor and action from the saga Patlabor,he went to showing spiritual reflections in Ghost in the Shell; then,he criticized the ontological reality in Avalon; after that,he analysed the reality of the existence in Ghost in the Shell : Innocence; and now,he makes a study of the function and limits of memory in the construction of human identity in The Sky Crawlers,which may be his least obtained film to the moment,but it is still very interesting.The plot summary from this film may make it seem as it is focused on the causes and consequences of the war conflict it portrays.But reality is not like that.In spite of showing us some excellent scenes of air combat,the authentic melodrama from this movie is on the earth,pushed by laconic conversations and monologues which slowly and precisely show us an ambiguous image of the function of war,the fighters' identities and the curious condition which avoids them of growing older.But,as in Oshii's previous films,there are not easy answers or simple solutions to the questions raised by the characters,so the movie leaves the spectator the homework of taking out conclusions.I think that's the best element from this movie.As I said before,the sequences of air combat are excellent,because they certainly produce impact.The ending is ambiguous but it is satisfactory,because it closes the movie on a solid way.However,there are some fails on this movie.On a few moments,it gets a little bit tiring and there are other moments which feel pretentious.There are a few other fails,but they are minor.I liked The Sky Crawlers pretty much,but I do not know if I can recommend it to everyone.I found it very interesting but I am sure other people may find it boring.I do not think it is a great movie,but I appreciated its narrative and emotional complexity very much.

DoubtfulHenry 28 May 2009

Locked in a long time battle, two waring factions look to gain the upper hand on one another. Kildren, eternally young pilots put their lives on the line for a conflict they don't understand to begin with.

The Sky Crawlers is a deep film that draws you in with it's stunning aerial battles and complex characters. I immediately liked the main characters, if for no other reason than that they broke away from typical Japanese character clichés. They're layered and have back stories that propel them forward in the story and brings the viewer into their world.

The animation is amazing throughout. The art is gorgeous. The plane fights were amazing. Each time a dogfight began, my heart would be racing and i'd be concerned for the characters involved. The music is very Mamoru Oshii. It felt a little odd, but did seem to fit well enough that it didn't distract me from what i saw.

The pacing was skewed wrong. At times it felt subtle, slow and decisive with the characters, which is fine in it's own right, but when you open with an explosive dogfight, you leave the subtle approach coming off as sluggish. I would have preferred the character scenes to move a little faster and to be presented more aggressively.

The ending is left me disjointed, however it fits the mood of the film so i won't count that against it.

The Sky Crawlers is a beautiful and touching experience that's among the best of the year. My highest recommendation

Movie Scene

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