This movie is somewhat different from what we normally cover since it’s not about military anime per se. The movie Kaze Tachinu is about Jiro Horikoshi, the creator of the legendary A6M Zero fighter, so it does have a connection to military aircraft. Unfortunately, we see only a glimpse of the Zero and very little of Jiro’s previous creation the A5M “Claude”. Even with the limited screen time of these two iconic Japanese planes, we are treated to a number of pre WWII military aircraft and a look into how Japan’s aircraft industry developed pre WWII.
I’m somewhat unsure as to how to approach this review. Honestly, I have mixed feelings about this anime, and I finally decided that I could treat the movie as a combination of three different movies, each with a different style and subject. We have a fantasy story, which is comprised of Jiro’s dreams of flight and of his hero the Italian aviation pioneer, Giovanni Battista Caproni, which includes a coda set at the end of WWII. We have the bittersweet and tragic romance of his love for the girl Nahoko. Finally, we have a biography of Jiro (though with a great deal of fictional elements) from approximately 1918 (based on the date on the magazine he borrowed) to 1935 (based on the flight of the A5M prototype). All three stories intersect and overlap, but I feel that the stylistic differences create a dissonance that makes them feel disjointed to me. So indulge me while I do three reviews in one.
Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II by Charles B MacDonald [Rating 4.25/5 Reviewer – daikama]
Company Commander is a WW II oral history book, really the WW II memoirs of Captain Charles “Mac” MacDonald. The book is considered by many to be seminal work of WW II oral history. Capt. MacDonald was young for a WW II captain – achieving the rank of captain at just age 20. In the fall of 1944, at 21 years old, he was sent overseas to Europe to take charge of his first command – the veteran Company I, 23d Infantry Regiment, 2nd Division. Later in the war, after recuperating from a wound, he’s given command of Company G of the same regiment. MacDonald finished the war with a Purple Heart and Silver Star. He later worked as an official Army Historian, retiring as Deputy Chief Historian. He also wrote other WW II books such as A Time for Trumpets, covering the Battle of the Bulge in which MacDonald and his Company G fought.
The GI’s War: The Story of American Soldiers in Europe in World War II by Edwin P. Hoyt [Rating – 4.25/5. Reviewer – daikama]
The GI’s War is just what it says on the cover. WW II as seen from the perspective, right or wrong, of the “GI”, the “dogface”, the “doughboy”. In the words of the author, “This book is about soldiers in World War II. It is not primarily a book about generals or other high-ranking officers, nor is it a book about military strategy and tactics.” Oral history in its most pure form. The GIs War pulls no punches in terms of language or the gory details, and makes no apologies for it. Atrocities by both sides are detailed.
We’re pretty much aware of the Tank Destroyers that are shown in GuP such as the Jagdpanther and the Stug III Aus F, but one area I’ve found neglected in the area of WWII historical books is the US Tank Destroyer Units. This has been partially remedied by the following book:
The Tank Killers by Harry Yeide [rating 4/5] [Bear]
The book follows the development of the US Tank Destroyers from their conceptual development in the prewar though their initiation to battle in North African till the end of the war in the ETO and their eventual dissolution at wars end. It provides a broad overview of their history as well as look at the lives of the men who operated them. It also argues that, while the TD doctrine itself was fatally flawed, the TD units acquitted themselves well on the battlefield even though they were rarely used as they were theoretically intended to be. It provides appendices showing which units participated in which campaigns and a short history of each unit. The only reason I rate is a 4 is in comparison to masterpieces like Atkinson’s. It is still well worth the read.
The Forgotten Soldier by Guy Sajer [Rating – 5/5. Reviewer – daikama]
The Forgotten Soldier describes the experience of Guy Sajer, a Frenchman drafted into the German Army at age 16 and ends up serving on the Eastern Front. The book is masterfully written, drawing the reader into the “story” early on. It’s easy to imagine yourself alongside Mr. Sajer as he goes through basic training, experiences his first battle, and ultimately fights for survival as the Soviet Army begins to overwhelm the Germans. I jest only in part that I actually felt cold while reading his account of the bitter Russian winters. To my surprise, I found myself almost as interested in the outcome of Mr. Sajer’s relationship with Paula as much as his accounts of combat. It is that intense focus on Mr. Sajer “the person” as much as Mr. Sajer “the soldier” that, for me, distinguishes “The Forgotten Soldier” from other books in the same genre… and that was Mr. Sajer’s intent.
An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 by Rick Atkinson [Rating – 5/5. Reviewer – daikama]
The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 by Rick Atkinson [Rating – 5/5. Reviewer – daikama]
The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 by Rick Atkinson [Rating – 4.5/5. Reviewer – daikama]
The Liberation Trilogy is a three-part series by Rick Atkinson’ covering the US North African and European campaigns in World War II. The first book is An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, the second, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, and the final book, The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945. The series has received wide-spread acclaim, with Atkinson winning a Pulitzer Prize for the first book, An Army at Dawn.
D-Day by Stephen Ambrose [Rating – 5/5. Reviewer – daikama]
Simply put, D-Day is one of the best WW II history books that I have read. Quite possibly my favorite. D-Day is a special book for me because my first copy (I own two) was given to me by a relative who served during WW II, and reading it inspired my interest in the WW II history. I’ve also read Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers by Ambrose, and in my opinion, D-Day is by far the best of the three.