Yukikaze Novel - Mania.com

Novel Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: NA
  • Packaging Rating: NA
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  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 14.99

Yukikaze Novel

Yukikaze Novel Review

By John Rose     August 16, 2010
Release Date: January 10, 2010

Yukikaze Novel
© Viz Media

Creative Staff
Writer: Chohei Kambayashi
Translation: Neil Nadelman

What They Say
More than thirty years ago, a super-dimensional passageway suddenly appeared over the continent of Antarctica. Fighters from the mysterious alien force known as JAM poured through the passage, the first wave of an attempted terrestrial invasion. Their ferocity was unquestionable, their aim unknown.

Humanity, united by a common enemy, managed to repel the invaders, chasing them back through the passageway to the strange planet nicknamed "Fairy." The task of finishing the battle was given to the newly formed FAF, a combat force created to go to Fairy and eliminate the JAM bases once and for all.

Now, in the midst of a war with no end in sight, Second Lieutenant Rei Fukai carries out his missions in the skies over Fairy. Attached to Tactical Combat and Surveillance Unit 3 of the Special Air Force, his duty is to gather information on the enemy and bring it back to base - no matter the human cost. His only constant companion in this lonely task is his fighter plane, the sentient FFR-31 Sylphid, call sign: Yukikaze.

The Review!
For 35 years the world has been at war with an unknown enemy named the Jam. The Jam appeared one day from a hyperspace corridor located on Antarctica that has been dubbed the 'Passageway.' Whether the JAM created the passageway, their goals and even their appearance are complete mysteries. The result of the invasion was that the Earth united to form a unit to fight back and eventually pushed the invaders back through the passageway and found it connected with a new world that they had trouble learning much about and that they dubbed 'Faery.' Whether this incredibly hostile world is even the home to the JAM is unknown but the Earth Defense Force established a series of bases there to serve as both their push against the JAM and as a defence line around the passageway to keep the JAM from coming back to Earth. Over the 30 some years however as the enemy has been largely forgotten since the war is being fought completely on the most foreign land humanity has ever engaged on the world has largely returned to its old self. The EDF has disintegrated back into the various countries concerned with their own matters and the populace largely thinks of the JAM like a fairy tale. As a result the battle ground of Faery has largely become a dumping ground of various governments least wanted who fight not for honor or country but because they have nowhere to return home to as many are criminals facing-at best-life sentances in prision.

With this set up it is no surprise that many of the characters in the book have attitudes that range largely from apathetic to ambivalent as most don't have much reason to fight other than the traditional cause of making sure that they survive and the guys next to them do as well with one major exception-the Boomerang squadron. The men of this squadron are given command of the premier line of Sylphid figters that have been modified for tactical reconasence (called Super Sylphid's due to the tremendous computer advances they posses) and given one cardinal order-fly near the battles involving the Sylphid and JAM battles and then return alive with the recorded data at all cost. No other actions are to be contemplated. Needless to say this makes Boomerang squadron highly unpopular with the other pilots who see them as almost a vulture like creature watching whether they live or die but never offering any sort of assistance what so ever. To accomplish this mission takes a special type of person detatched from others and said to possess almost machine levels of non concern for their fellow human beings. The series protagonist Rei Fukai is example of such a person assigned to the Boomerang Squadron. We are given only the most minimal information about his past in that he felt betrayed by everyone and the final straw was when the woman he loved did so. He now flies the Super Sylphid Yukikaze and belives that it is the one thing that can never betray him.

Through the eyes of Rei and his only friend Major James Booker the reader is guided through the world in which they live. As the nature of the JAM is questioned and their true goals the series also questions the necessity of man in their combat arena where so much can done by automation. This made particularly more striking as the true developmental abilities of the Faery Air Forces computers and the Yukikaze herself start to show some startling developments and may have learned more from their contact with people than is generally thought possible. And what is the result when the people they have the most contact with are a group whose number one order is to come back alive at any cost? The book also contains a section detailing the specifics on the Yukikaze, afterword by the author and two different pieces doing an examination of the work and ideas presented within as well as a page defininig the different accronyms found within.

Yukikaze is an interesting work questioning what it means to be human through both the role of automation and people who are often damaged and operate close to what people think of machine like in their roles. The original text was first published in 1984 and in 2002 a revised edition (this one) was published where the author went back and added some details according to his statements in the afterword. While a number of the ideas in the book have been done since its first publication the books questions still rise to the level of being interesting and somewhat fresh. It also does a good job of moving at a brisk pace and never getting bogged down in too many military terms or complexities at the expense of burying the reader in jargon and taxing them with minutia not needed for the story proper. The downside though is that many of the ideas have been explored and a bit more thouroghly than the novel does. The novel also uses the narrative tool of occasionally having the characters making a considerable intuitive leap that just happens to mirror many of the things that have been set up-some of which the characters themselves did not have firsthand knowledge of. The narrative works but at times still feels a bit rough around the edges and some of the ideas that are presented feel like they only get partially developed compared to some of the works that have been published in the years since.

In Summary:
Yukikaze is an interesting look into the world where humans often act in a very machine like fashion and the machines that learn from them while fighting an enemy that is completely incomprehensive and unknown to the men and women fighting it. The question of what it means to be human is explored under these conditions as humanity and machines fight an enemy humanity can't understand and has largely grown weary of fighting-if not forgotten as a whole by all but those on the front lines of the battle. In the face of an apathetic home front and no future prospects what keeps individuals moving forward and what happens when machines start to learn how to be human from people in this position?


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