Anime Film Review: Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is an anime film that was produced by Gainax and Bandai Visual, and was directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga. The film was released to Japanese theaters on March 14, 1987.

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise
Directed by: Hiroyuki Yamaga
Written by: Hiroyuki Yamaga
Starring: Leo Morimoto and Mitsuki Yayoi
Run Time: 119 minutes

The film is set on an alternate version of Earth, which has a flourishing industrial civilization caught in an impending war between the Kingdom of Honneamise and “The Republic.” The film has a strong focus on a young man named Shirotsugh Lhadatt. He’s unmotivated and is a member of the Royal Space Force, which is seen as a joke in comparison to the rest of the military. At the beginning of the film, Shirotsugh experiences the death of a fellow astronaut. While he’s sorting out his feelings and what he’s doing with his life, he becomes acquainted with a young religious woman named Riquinni Nonderaiko. Riquinni inspires Shirotsugh to become the first man in space and he volunteers for the first manned spaceflight program.

Shirotsugh comes to learn that the training isn’t easy, nor is all the attention and publicity he’s receiving because of his involvement with the mission. It gets to the point where someone is following him around and trying to kill him. This portion of the film is very action-packed and keeps the viewer on the edge of their seat as they watch to see whether or not Shirotsugh can escape. I have to say that while this was a great scene, the audience is never given any explanation as to who was pursuing Shirotsugh or why they were pursuing him. I would guess this was someone hired by The Republic, but nothing is definitively said.

And if this wasn’t enough, Shirotsugh finds himself trying to get closer to Riquinni, and he has to stay with her while he tries to lay low to avoid any more potential assassins. At one point, Shirotsugh tries to rape Riquinni, but she manages to hit him in the head and get away. While this scene was a little unnerving, at least Shirotsugh apologized later. While the apology doesn’t excuse what he tried to do, this act shows that he at least has a conscience. This situation causes a temporary rift in Shirotsugh’s relationship with Riquinni, but this rift seems to heal before Shirotsugh heads off on his mission.

The story culminates with the launch being scheduled to take place in a demilitarized zone. The government made this decision in the hope that this would provoke their neighboring nation into war. When The Republic launches a vast invasion, Shirotsugh is determined to finish what he started. All I will say about the ending is a comment my husband made: “It looks like they decided to do a ‘Major Tom’ for the ending.”

I have to say that the animation for this film is incredible, and it’s visually very stunning. According to what I’ve seen, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise had a budget of 800 million yen. After seeing the animation used for this film, I can believe that the budget was that high.

When it comes to the writing, I have to say that I really liked the overarching concept, as well as Shirotsugh’s character development from being an unmotivated young man at the beginning of the film to a man with a mission at the end of it. Shirotsugh’s character grows and changes over the course of the film through his experiences and from the various lessons that he ends up having to learn along the way. However, there were points in the film where the storytelling felt a little choppy due to some ideas, characters, and motivations not being explained. It felt as if the writer and director just expected the audience to simply accept that things were happening so the explanations would not have to be provided.

I can’t say that I found Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise to be a great film, but I can say it’s a decent film for what it’s trying to do. Even though I personally may have found the storytelling to be a little choppy at times, I can still see why this film is as highly regarded as it is by critics. I would say that Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise is an anime film that anyone who considers themselves to be anime fan should see at least once since it’s considered a classic anime film from the 1980’s.

I watched Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise on the Blu-ray release that was put out by Maiden Japan in 2013. The video is presented in 1080p High Definition in a 16×9 aspect ratio. Personally, I thought the video quality of the Blu-ray looked good, and I didn’t see any noticeable issues with it. For audio, the film is available with an English dub or with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles.

When it comes to bonus features, there really isn’t much included. The most impressive bonus feature is “Japanese Trailer Collection,” which lasts for almost 23 minutes. Unfortunately, there was one particular trailer that was included at least three times. The main difference between each one was the background music that used. Outside of that, the visuals and the narration were exactly the same. I would have enjoyed this feature a little more if there hadn’t ended up being as much redundancy as there was. I understand wanting to be thorough and presenting all of the trailers, but I wish these three could have somehow been spaced out instead of being back-to-back.

The only other bonus features that are included are “Also Available From Maiden Japan” (which provides a menu with options to watch two different trailers) and “Disc Credits.”

If you’re a fan of Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise and don’t own a copy of it on home video yet, I would recommend purchasing this Blu-ray release if you have the capability for playing Blu-rays.

Additional post about works by Gainax:

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