Wings of Honneamise

video sleeve

Official Blurb:

"Wings of Honneamise garnered fantastic reviews when it was released theatrically in the autumn last year [1994]. Then film is based on an original short story by director Hiriyuki Yamaga and features music by Ryuichi Sakamoto"

"Three thousand animators wer used to complete The Wings of Honneamise, including Hideaki Anno (The Cross, Nausicaa- Valley of the Wind), Fumio Iida (Rouzin Z) and Yuji Moriyama (Uresei Yatsura). The production involved many of the top names in the Japanese film and animation industries, including the art director Hiromasa Ogura (previously feted forThe Castle of Cagliostro) and the acclaimed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto, who won an Oscar for his contribution to Bertolucci's masterpiece, The Last Emperor. The stunning sets in The Wings of Honneamise are designed by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto."

"An epic tale of a civilisation's first faltering steps into Space, set in an alien world that is strangely familiar to our own. When cadet Shiro Lhdatt signs up with the Royal Space Force he encounters ridicule and apathy from manipulative leaders and a cynical public. A chance encounter with a devout young woman spurs Shiro on towards his destiny - to begome the first man in space. While military leaders conspire to use the Space Program to spark an all-out war, Shiro and a team of ageing scientists race against time to complete the first launch. The countdown has begun in this spectacular feast for the senses. Breathtaking animation, sumtuous design and great vision combine to ensure that Wings of Honneamise will become a classic in the Anime Hall of Fame."

Director:     Hiroyuki Yamaga
Screenplay:   Hiroyuki Yamaga
Copyright:    Bandai/Gainax

First VHS release:
Language:     English
Label:        Manga Video
Running time: 125 mins
Certificate:  PG (cut) 
Catalogue no: MANV 1065
Price:        £13.99
Release Date: 6th Feb 1995

Second VHS release:
Language:     Japanese with English Subtitles
Label:        Manga Video
Running time: 125 mins
Certificate:  PG (cut)
Catalogue no: MANV 1092
Price:        £13.99
Release Date: 19th Jun 1995


About 4 or 5 years ago, a friend who worked in a comic shop lent me a video tape. The film it contained was Wings of Honneamise, and shares a lot of the blame for getting me into anime fandom. I was interested to learn that Manga Entertainment Limited were to release it, but was a touch concerned that it may be 'adapted' to better suit the market...

Wings of Honneamise (aka Honneamise no Tsuba aka Aile de Honneamise aka Royal Space Force) is the story a Shiro, a young man who dreams of flying. He is part of the Royal Space Force, a part of the Honneamise military whose aim is to build a manned space satellite.

He meets a young 'preacher', and her enthusiasm leads him to volunteer for the manned project - something his colleagues feel is suicidal. Scorned by the 'real' military, the RSF operates on a shoestring budget, but when the manned project becomes known, Shiro becomes a media personality, and the RSF gets some real attention. However, the MOD are manipulating the situation to get rid of an embarrassment (the RSF) and to provoke a neighbouring state.

Generally Wings of Honneamise is a serious film containing scenes of warfare, political corruption and an attempted rape, although it does have its lighter moments. The characters in Honneamise are realistic and believable, with their own hopes, passions, and flaws, and the voice actors are well chosen (although the acting quality is variable).

Presented in wide-screen format, the animation is of superb quality, with superb designs that are both familiar and alien - for ultimate weirdness, look at the RSF dress uniform! The music, by Ryuichi Sakamoto (Last Emperor/Merry Christmas Mr Lawrence), is excellent, adding to the atmosphere of the film.

In conclusion, I have to say that this is probably the best thing that MEL have released (with the possible exception of Akira - although I prefer Honneamise). [Chris Hartford]

At first, I was not sure what to make of this. Whilst there's mecha aplenty, it's not 'Guns and Robots'; there's an attempted rape, but it's not a skin-flick. Indeed, it doesn't fall into any obvious category, so maybe it's nothing other than a film telling a story using whatever means are necessary. Why am I surprised at this in an anime when I wouldn't be otherwise? Cultural conditioning, I presume.

So, what is the story? Shirotsugu (Shiro) wants to be a jet fighter pilot but gets put in the Royal Space Force, a dead-end staffed by losers but lead by an idealist. Shiro must give a purpose to his career, his life, the Space Force and ultimately the human race but he needs help, and that's one commodity, amid treason, conspiracy, espionage and sabre-rattling, that's in very short supply.

Where that help comes from and whether its has a positive result I'll leave you to find out by watching the film. Suffice to say, this is the most singular anime I've yet seen. Whilst I didn't find it great entertainment and I'd rent rather than buy it, it's worth watching for its individuality alone. [Marlon A. Seton]

Comment from newsgroups:

Mikko Kurki-Suonio:
Well, I watched it last night and the dubbing actually was ok,
except for a few small parts (mainly the stock voice old geezers).

What peeves me is that they removed the rape scene, entirely!
No mention of the blasphemous hack job anywhere on the packaging, the
scene is just missing. If I didn't know better, I'd be wondering why
the hell Shiro left Riquinni at all...

Last night, I was pissed off enough to take my shotgun and
shoot the kneecaps off the people responsible. Today, I've calmed
down. I might settle for one kneecap each...

As for writing to MV and expressing my concerns, well, I've
tried that before -- quite politely too. But what can you expect from
guys who review their own releases with lines like: "who cares about
the plot, it's got plenty sex & violence, mate"?

Oh well. As time goes on and anime biz gets bigger, I've got
the feeling that the little fan from nowhere land like me is screwed
more and more. This all leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Maybe I
should switch to collecting Magic cards or something...

Johnny Larkspur:
In my view, this film was meant to
be a representation of people and society in general, while I believe
that this scene only really involves the characters.  I don't see how
Shiro's unexpected behavior answers any of the difficult questions the
film poses, not even the unintentional evil discussion, since he knows
what he's doing, and if not, how's the audience supposed to relate it to
the reflection of themselves?  This goes double for Riqunni's reaction.
It's one thing to have a blind eye for your hero's less impressive
behavior, but this was something she could NOT ignore.  Up until this
point Shiro was established as Joe Public, and Riqunni, while a bit
eccentric, was at least a recognizable typecast.  After this point they're
pushed quite close to the realm of the mentally disturbed, and the
audience is allowed to distance themselves from them.  It was great as
character development, but much too clumsy to be any use to the rest of
the film, and IMO was used more because it was the anime-thing-to-do.
Hell, Riqunni bonking him in the head at the end afterward could have
been something out of Ranma.

Neil Nadelman:
I was recently talking to Carl Horn, and he said that Mike House
(formerly of AnimEigo, now of Gainax) had heard from Yamaga himself that
the rape arose from his belief that "there comes a moment of complete
understanding between two people from which they can build an entire
relationship."  The assault and its aftermath was there to put the final
knife into the possibility that Shiro and Riqunni could ever have a
full and balanced relationship with each other.  Riqunni's failure to
admit to herself what Shiro had tried to do showed that there was no
longer any possibility of communication.

The removal of the scene doesn't so much "ruin" the film as take
yet another level of meaning away from it.  The dub does this in a few
sections just as a result of what any sort of dubbing does to a film,
but the willful excising of this difficult scene only obscures more
of the film's innate texture and complexity.  It was never meant to be
a film for children, and I personally don't appreciate opening it up
to a wider audience if it means having to gut the more disturbing
sections to do so.  And I still maintain that the scene's loss would
have made the conversation in the marketplace seem out of place
(had the dub kept to the original dialogue in there, which it didn't,
but that's another story).