a.k.a. Royal Space Force
a.k.a. Oneamise no Tsubasa
Shirotsugh Lhadatt has aspired to join the Navy and become a pilot his entire life. Too bad life dealt him a bad hand. Genetics and a overwhelming apathy towards the tedium of common existence draw him to the Royal Space Force, a nearly-defunct military division with only one goal: to send the first man into outer space. They are the laughing stock of their own government; a lack of funding threatens to put the Royal Space Force on its deathbed… unless Shiro has anything to say about it.
summary by Kain
Highs: Excellent animation; cast of lovable losers you can sympathize with; mockumentary feel
Lows: Too slow and carefree for some; ending could use some work
Wings of Honneamise is an exercise in execution of the highest caliber. It’s no wonder this is the movie that simultaneously put Gainax on the map, propelled a bunch of wet-behind-the-ears animators and producers into stardom and smacked a large, notorious sign on Gainax’s collective forehead that labeled them fiscally irresponsible. Hey, a budget of ¥8 billion will buy you one hell of an anime, even today.
Fans of American films like This Is Spinal Tap will be instantly drawn to this movie; it effortlessly switches back and forth between tongue-in-cheek documentary and personable drama. Unlike many anime that feature characters that are morally righteous, Shiro and his cronies at the Royal Space Force are outcasts and deviants. I found it somewhat hard at first to relate to characters that are considered social detritus, but the anime crams them with real emotions and personalities that by the end I found it difficult to hate anyone.
It would have been too easy to have Wings of Honneamise follow the standard formula of “hero falls into despair, finds inner strength and true love, and eventually saves the world”. Gainax would never let the viewer off so easily. Instead, we find an anime that is so intricately detailed, and not just in its gorgeous artwork; every scene carries with it some profound message that sheds light on the emotional struggles the characters go through. The fact that Shiro is such a flawed protagonist who suffers from a debilitating malaise about life and yet incites ambition in himself, all while falling prey to the same pitfalls that a common man would, makes him an interesting study.
The production cast’s lack of experience shows in the ending, which tries a little too hard to be innovative. I found the pacing and the length of the movie to be perfect; its unhurried demeanor properly conveys how Shiro feels about his role in life. Some people will lack the patience to see this as a benefit. If you are a fan of Gainax’s other irreverent works, then there’s probably a gaping hole in your conscience that only Wings of Honneamise can fill.
Highs: Ingeniously designed world; artwork overflows with detail; intelligent and creative story; genuine characters
Lows: Some elements break the mood occasionally
I don’t think I will ever grow tired of watching this anime. Such an inspiring story with such realistic characters can’t help but lift one’s spirit. Smart, funny, greatly animated, Wings of Honneamise has a lot going for it and most definitely earns its place as a classic in Japanese animation.
What draws me most about this anime is the remarkable world created to accommodate the ever-so-human characters. When watching Wings of Honneamise, pay close attention to the logic put into the conception of this parallel universe. Everything from buildings to currencies has been entirely reinvented yet remains practical and plausible. As if making up a contemporary world from scratch was not tricky enough, profuse details are added into each of its aspects to make sure the viewer really treasures its complexity. No movie comes remotely close to achieving such perfection in large-scale design.
To perform on this breathtaking set are characters bigger than life, all equipped with dazzling personalities. The unique storyline allows them to discuss matters hard to convey in normal circumstance, and they do it with the wisdom I was hoping for. Shiro’s fluctuating viewpoint on life, as he tries to answer existential questions, could not have been better delivered. A few references to our world and some drawn-out action scenes that look to have been added for seasoning seem to clash with the rest. Reality checks or changes of pace are not essentially a bad thing, yet I feel they should have been smoothed out more efficiently.
Without being able to please everyone because of its slow pace and religious statements, Wings of Honneamise, through its all-round excellence and inspiring essence, is a movie that should at least be seen by every dreamer on this earth.