Wings of Defeat: A Documentary About Living Kamikaze Pilots


We’ve all heard of kamikaze pilots. They’re the infamous troop of martyr pilots involved in a last-ditch effort by Japan’s Imperial Army to save face in World War 2. About 5,000 Tokkotai—their official name—died, but what’s less known is the fact that some survived. In an excellent new documentary by Risa Morimoto, whose uncle was trained as a kamikaze pilot but never dispatched, explores the experience and psyche of these brave and controversial soldiers of a badly defeated nation.

This documentary was really, really good. It showed many perspectives—those of the pilots themselves, those of American soldiers who survived kamikaze attacks, and expert opinions from people like John Dower—an MIT historian who wrote an amazingly interesting account of post-war Japan in his book Embracing Defeat. Morimoto herself went out and did all the interviews, and she’s in a lot of the footage, sitting next to interviewees as they share experiences with her. She manages to extract conflicting emotions from all sides—the kamikaze pilots share their fear and doubt, while American soldiers tell her that they would have done the same thing had they been on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Trailer and screening info after the jump.

The next showing is on April 4th at the Int’l Documentary Film Festival in Tel Aviv. It’s also available on DVD under its Japanese title, Tokko, in Japan.

4 thoughts on “Wings of Defeat: A Documentary About Living Kamikaze Pilots

  1. I recently watched; Japan’s War in Colour – released in 2003. Almost all of the footage I had never seen before. It gives recounts from Japanese citizens and soldiers diaries, notes, letters etc. Different from the stuff you would see on the History Channel.
    It doesn’t go into depth of one particular aspect of the war, as this appears to do, but it gives a better perspective from a Japanese point of view…and it’s in color. Apart from the “war” focus of the DVD, it was interesting to see old color video of Tokyo, Osaka etc.
    The audio is English.

  2. I’m sorry if this is kinda old, but I was wondering what anime that was that was spliced in with the footage. Is it in the actual film?