Shirotsugh Lhadatt is an aimless man working for the Kingdom of Honneamise’s unorganized space program. After a chance encounter with a religious woman named Riquinni, he’s inspired to motivate his crew members and work towards launching the first rocket into outer space. In the backdrop of an ongoing civil war, Lhadatt’s efforts lead to an understanding of his character and of the purpose that comes with taking part in something greater than himself.
The Wings of Honnêamise is Gainax’s hidden gem.
Plot and Story
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise is a science fiction film that feels different from others I’ve seen. Rather than focusing on drama, duels, or all-out space battles, the film offers a more grounded approach to its storytelling, focusing instead on the actions of its characters and their nuanced relationships. It reflects some more indirect consequences of war and how people suffer because of it.
Shirotsugh is a disillusioned everyman who can be very unlikeable at times, but the maturity of his character is handled well throughout the film. His relationship with the spiritual Riquinni is one of a delicate trust, with the latter believing in Shirotsugh’s potential in a society that expects nothing of him. He witnesses a rapidly growing cityscape before his eyes, but is also exposed to devastating poverty in the countryside. His interactions with Riquinni and her relative Manna gradually softens his cynical worldview that was fostered by constant failure and tragedy. It’s in this instance where the film demonstrates Shirotsugh’s coming of age and his inherent goodness for humanity. His mission to fly to space is based on a newfound motivation to reinvent himself and provide hope for a crazy world.
Sometimes the film is slow and contemplative on such themes. These are the moments, however, when the viewers will get the most out of watching it. Despite that, there are a few chase scenes here and there to keep the attention intact. Even through all the spectacle and fame that comes with trying to launch your first rocket into space, Shirotsugh’s motive remains constant and focused.
Art and Music
The Wings of Honnêamise represents one of studio Gainax’s earliest efforts in animation and featurette making. Although it failed to recoup its budget at the Japanese box office, critical reception was very favorable. Some of the biggest names in animation and music found their starts during the film’s production.
Most notably, Hideaki Anno was involved as a special effects artist and worked as part of the animation direction, production, and layout design team. He, along with character designer Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, would eventually work together to make Neon Genesis Evangelion. The background designs and overall art look great in the film, especially in scenes featuring city streets and architecture. Its artistic style is a cross between a futuristic setting and a grimy primitive cityscape.
Famed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto handled the music direction of the film and his style adds a subtle touch to its quieter moments. Sakamoto is famous for playing a role in the film Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence alongside David Bowie and Takeshi Kitano, as well as working on the score for the 2013 film The Revenant. In the right scenes, his music delivers just the right amount of emotion needed to drive home an inspiring message.
The Final Frontier
- Slow but uplifting story
- Great animation and music
- Thoughtful messages
- Complex characters
- Runtime is a tad long
- A few too many filler moments
The Wings of Honnêamise was released just a year before landmark titles Akira and My Neighbor Totoro. It has since become an underrated classic with a cult following. It’s a film worth watching for its handling of complex character drama and its developed science fiction story. Whether it’s here on Earth or right up in the stars, The Wings of Honnêamise leaves an optimistic message that is timeless and appropriate for a world looking for inspiration.
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise
Japanese Title: Ouritsu Uchuugun: Honneamise no Tsubasa