Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise (王立宇宙軍 オネアミスの翼 Ōritsu Uchūgun: Oneamisu no Tsubasa?) is a 1987 Japanese animated science fiction film and the first film produced by Gainax. It was directed and written by Hiroyuki Yamaga with assistant director Takami Akai. The film would eventually be a critically acclaimed Gainax classic, but it was poorly received and sold only modestly domestically and overseas. A sequel was intended to be released set 50 years later, but due to lack of funds, Gainax abandoned it part way through production; Toshio Okada cited a fundamental dissatisfaction with the script and plot.
The story is set in a parallel version of Earth, where an industrial civilization is flourishing amidst the backdrop of an impending war between two bordering nations.
Shirotsugh Lhadatt is an unmotivated young man who has drifted into his nation's lackadaisical space program. After the death of a fellow astronaut, he nurtures a close acquaintance with a young religious woman named Riquinni Nonderaiko, whose faith has seen her through some personal hardships. (A working title of the film was Wings of Riquinni - Royal Space Force.) Seeing Lhadatt as a prime example of what mankind is capable of, along with the godliness and ground-breaking nature of his work, she inspires him to become the first man in space.
His training as an astronaut parallels his coming of age, and he and the rest of the members of the space project overcome technological difficulties, spiritual doubt, the machinations of their political masters, and a botched assassination attempt by the enemy nation. Amidst the debacle, Lhadatt soon becomes worn out by the overbearing publicity surrounding his space mission, prompting him to stay with Riquinni for a while; he then comes close to raping her one night while catching her undressing, causing a temporary rift between them that is later mended thanks to Riquinni's kindness.
These events culminate in the eventual space launch, which is taking place in what is essentially a demilitarized zone, with the government's hope that the launch of the rocket will be viewed by the enemy nation as an act of war and attack, giving Lhadatt's country a pretext to go to war. As planned, the enemy nation launches a vast combined arms invasion, resulting in a visually stunning finale as fighter planes duel high above an armored advance towards a defensive trench network. Despite calls to pull out, Lhadatt, already in the space capsule and determined to finish what he started, convinces the frightened and vulnerable ground crew to complete the launch. The spectacular launch stuns both sides into inaction as Lhadatt goes into orbit. With no more reference to the world below (beyond a slight suggestion that both nation's plans for war have been foiled by the successful launch), Lhadatt prays for humanity's forgiveness.
In a symbolic moment, Lhadatt's capsule is suddenly bathed in sunlight, and a montage of his own life and his world's history and achievements flash (presumably) through his mind. Meanwhile on the planet's surface, Riquinni witnesses the first snow fall and gazes into the sky, thinking of Lhadatt.
Roger Ebert called it "a visually sensational two-hour extravaganza"; and DVD Times said that the animation "gives the storyteller complete control over what you see and ultimately how the viewer interprets the directors dream...the astounding animation, the attention to detail seen in every frame is quite daunting, but allows the viewer to discover new subtleties on repeated viewing." The seiyuu's performances have been described as "full of dynamic range and emotion", with characters sounding "very distinctive".
Wings has been released in several versions in the USA. The 2000 release by Manga Entertainment on DVD, which features commentary by Hideaki Anno, was severely criticized for its poor quality. Bandai Visual released a Blu-ray/HD DVD version during its 20th anniversary, 11 September 2007, drawing on the remastered 1997 DVD release in Japan.
In March 1992, Gainax had begun planning and production of an anime movie called Aoki Uru ("Blue Uru"), which was to be a sequel to Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise set 50 years later (so as to be easier to pitch to investors) which, like Oritsu, would follow a group of fighter pilots. Production would eventually cease in July 1993: a full-length anime movie was just beyond Gainax's financial ability – many of its core businesses were shutting down or producing minimal amounts of money:
"General Products had closed shop. We'd pulled out of Wonder Festival [a "flea market for garage kits"] and garage kit making altogether. We weren't taking on any subcontracting work for anime production. We did continue to make PC games – Akai had seen to that – but there wasn't a lot of work tossed our way. With mere pennies coming in, we were having a hard enough time just paying everyone's salaries. Finally the order came down for us to halt production on Aoki Uru. We were simply incapable of taking the project any further."
With the failure of the project, Hideaki Anno, who had been slated from the beginning to direct Aoki Uru, was freed up. Legendarily, he would soon agree to a collaboration between King Records and Gainax while drinking with Toshimichi Ōtsuki, a representative at King; with King Records guaranteeing a time slot, Anno set about making the anime. Unsurprisingly, elements of Aoki Uru were incorporated into the nascent Neon Genesis Evangelion:
"One of the key themes in Aoki Uru had been "not running away." In the story, the main character is faced with the daunting task of saving the heroine … He ran away from something in the past, so he decides that this time he will stand his ground. The same theme was carried over into Evangelion, but I think it was something more than just transposing one show's theme onto another …"
Gainax has periodically attempted to restart Aoki Uru, such as releasing a 1998 CD with storyboards, a script, and several hundred pieces of art.
- ↑ English pronunciation: /oʊniˈɑːmiːs/
- ↑ "1987 The Wings of Honneamise is released, making anime officially an artform." Richard Corliss, 'Amazing Anime', Time magazine; Nov. 22, 1999. Vol. 154, Iss. 21; pg. 94
- ↑ "What emerged on the other side is arguably one of the finest films ever to come out of Japan." Jeff Kleits 2008
- ↑ "The Wings of Honneamise (preceded by 'Royal Space Force' in the US) is one of those landmark films that everyone should see at least once. Released in 1987, a year before Akira landed, Honneamise is every bit as impressive both artistically and in concept." http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=3544
- ↑ "Countless lists have this movie in the top 10 anime of all time. This movie is always sold out almost as soon as it hits the shelves. There is a reason for this. People love this movie. It is a thought provoking, deeply philosophical, and well written film..." http://www.dvdvisionjapan.com/wing.html
- ↑ "Considered one of the top 10 films of 1987 by Japanese film critics, The Wings of Honneamise is a bittersweet, introspective tale of an incompetent space program staffed by slacker astronauts who are despised by society at large. It was made by an iconoclastic band of talented twentysomethings who called themselves Gainax. The name is a self-mocking contraction of a Japanese word for great with the English word max." "Heads Up, Mickey: Anime may be Japan's first really big cultural export", Issue 3.04 - Apr 1995, Wired Magazine
- ↑ Horn, Carl G. (1995). "Speaking Once as They Return: Gainax's Neon Genesis Evangelion". AMPlus.
Pioneer was at one point to finance a sequel to Honneamise, written by Yamaga and directed by Anno, yet the project fell through because, Okada relates, Yamaga's heart wasn't in what he was writing; his script was becoming a parody.
- ↑ http://khara.weblogs.jp/hideakianno/personal-biography.html
- ↑ Ebert, Roger (May 12, 1995). "The Wings Of Honneamise". rogerebert.com (originally published in the Chicago Sun-Times). Archived from the original on January 14, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2010.
- ↑ http://www.dvdtimes.co.uk/content.php?contentid=3544
- ↑ http://www.dvdvisionjapan.com/wing.html
- ↑ "The Manga Entertainment DVD of Wings of Honneamise is widely reviled as a poster child for poor compression and authoring. From the horrific telecine to the double flagging, fake anamorphic and the ludicrous edge halos, many professionals I've shown it to couldn't believe it ever was released at all, as The VHS looks better in many cases." http://www.thedigitalbits.com/reviewshd/wingsjinbrd.html
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20070808040401/www.inwards.com/woh/
- ↑ "...the print Manga have sourced shows frequent signs of ageing. Dust, hairs, cigarette burns (as they are known in the industry) at reel changeovers, it is all here and all faults make frequent appearances. There really has been zero effort put into remastering this print which is a great shame, and the encoding is again quite poor, resulting in a picture that loses out on a lot of detail due to an overall softness (edging on blurriness) that kills the kind of clarity this film requires...but on the whole for fans this release is a definite disappointment." DVDTimes 2001
- ↑ Brian Hanson stated simply that "the transfer looks like ass"
- ↑ Takeda, Yasuhiro; Yu Sugitani, Yasuhiro Kamimura, Takayoshi Miwa; translated by Javier Lopez, Jack Wiedrick, Brendan Frayne, Kay Bertrand, Gina Koerner, Hiroaki Fukuda, and Sheridan Jacobs (2002, 2005). The Notenki memoirs: studio Gainax and the men who created Evangelion. ADV Manga. p. 155. ISBN 1-4139-0234-0. Cite uses deprecated parameter
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- ↑ pg 157–158 of Takeda 2002
- ↑ "Anno knew a guy from King Records named Otsuki, and as the story goes, the two were out drinking one day when Otsuki suggested to Anno that they work on a TV anime project together. Anno agreed on the spot, came back to the office and promptly announced it to everyone. Nobody even batted an eyelash. We just accepted it without further thought." pg 164 of Takeda 2002
- ↑ pg 165 of Takeda 2002
- ↑ http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/1998-09-05/lost-gainax-project-reborn
- The Wings of Honnêamise (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ôritsu uchûgun Oneamisu no tsubasa at the Internet Movie Database
- Official website (Japanese)
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