Produced, directed, and written by Luke Swann
Pacific Arts Video, 1990, 22 min., Video
Pacific Arts Video produced a six-tape set called Carriers,
a history of U.S. aircraft carriers. The Discovery Channel broadcast this
multipart documentary, which includes segments on several World War II topics,
such as Coral Sea, Midway, and escort carriers. Episode 8, Kamikaze,
presents the basic history of Japan's kamikaze attacks, with the documentary's
emphasis being on kamikaze plane damage inflicted on U.S. aircraft
The video's narrative and footage concentrates on military
operations, with little examination of the motivation and feelings of
individual Japanese pilots. However, the script does contain an interesting
comment about how the Japanese felt about this mission carried out with the
expectation of certain death:
The kamikaze attacks were measured by the West as the height
of insanity, and the expression "suicide attacks" was used to
describe them. Suicide is however the wrong word entirely. There's no
connotation of hopelessness or despair about the actions of a kamikaze pilot.
He had faith that his actions retained worth and contributed to his country.
The kamikaze's death did not give up life or devalue it. The life was passed on
to those who remained. 
The word "suicide" means the intentional taking of
one's life, so a kamikaze attack can be accurately described as a suicide
attack. However, the above quotation points out that the attitudes of Japanese
and Western people toward suicide differed greatly, so the use of this term can
affect a person's judgment of the appropriateness of such attacks.
This documentary contains several historical inaccuracies.
For example, the narrator talks about the "lone action of Rear Admiral
Arima who had led a dive bomber into the flight deck of the USS Franklin"
. In actuality, Arima took off with a group of about 100 planes, and he did
not hit the Franklin or any other ship before he was shot down . The
video gives the impression that the Franklin was hit later near Okinawa
by a kamikaze attack, and in reality a conventional Japanese bomber dropped two
bombs onto the Franklin's flight deck . The narrator states the last mass
kamikaze attacks called Kikusui (floating chrysanthemum) ended on May
12, 1945 , but they actually continued on until June 22
Although viewers of the series Carriers may want to
view this episode on Kamikaze as part of the history of U.S. aircraft
carriers, others should search out a documentary that provides a more complete
and historically accurate account of kamikaze.
1. From 8:25 to 8:50 in video.
2. At 5:20 in video.
3. See Brown 1990, 17; Inoguchi and Nakajima 1958, 37;
O'Neill 1999, 123-4; Warner and Warner 1982, 84.
4. See Inoguchi and Nakajima 1958, 141; Warner and Warner
5. At 15:45 in video.
6. Warner and Warner 1982, 259-263.
Brown, David. 1990. Kamikaze. Greenwich, CT: Brompton Books.
Inoguchi, Rikihei, Tadashi Nakajima, with Roger Pineau.
1958. The Divine Wind: Japan's Kamikaze Force in World War II.
Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
O'Neill, Richard. 1999. Originally published in 1981 as an
illustrated edition. Suicide Squads: The Men and Machines of World War II
Special Operations. London: Salamander Books.
Warner, Denis, Peggy
Warner, with Commander Sadao Seno. 1982. The Sacred Warriors: Japan's Suicide
Legions. New York: Van Nostrand