Shirotsugh "Shiro" Lhadatt may be a cadet in the Kingdom of Honneamise's Royal Space Force (RSF), but he has never been in space before—in fact, nobody has. The RSF is often regarded as a failure both by the country's citizens and a government more interested in precipitating a war with a neighboring country than scientific achievement. Following the funeral of a fellow cadet, an unmotivated Shiro is walking in the city one night, when he bumps into Riquinni Nonderaiko, a young, pious woman, genuinely enthusiastic about the significance of space exploration.
As the two gradually bond, Riquinni's encouragement inspires Shiro to volunteer as a pilot for a prospective rocket ship, potentially becoming Honneamise's first man in space. Shiro and the RSF are soon joined by a team of elderly but eager scientists and engineers, and together, they embark on a mission to mold their nation's space program into a success. However, their efforts soon catch the attention of the government, which seems to have a different plan for the RSF in mind. Even as the odds are stacked against them, these men and women continue to stubbornly look to the sky, because somewhere among the frontiers of space may lie humanity's last chance at redemption.
Wow. I can't believe no one has written a review for this movie yet. I'd have to say that, based on its current 7.8 rating, it's slightly underrated. I myself would call it a masterpiece, but keeping other people's tastes in mind, I give it a conservative 9/10. (See bottom for a quick summary)
What makes this movie stand out is its spot-on storytelling. For me, there's not a single dull moment from beginning to end. Fans of action may be put off by instances of character development in the middle, but the movie always picks
up and gets right back to forwarding the plot. I myself found the character development engrossing and mostly believable. (I also think it was crucial to let the viewer feel out the world of Honneamise by developing the main character, but that's just my opinion.) The movie has such good writing that it wouldn't have mattered much if they glimpsed over the side characters, but they're given their own time in the sun, and it adds a nice touch to the realism.
Speaking of realism, the alternate universe of Honneamise is so finely tuned that you'll hardly catch all the details on your first viewing. The world will seem so familiar that you'll want to connect it back to our world. I think that's what the director intended, because I felt invested in the unfolding events of the movie, as if the history of Honneamise were somehow my own.
Most importantly, the ending of this movie is epic. And that's all I'll say, because I don't want to give anything away. If you're watching this with your enjoyment meter at 5 or 6, PLZ try to make it to the end.
This movie had an insane budget - I think that's all I have to say. It has great art and fluid action scenes. Sure, it's a little dated (which is why I gave it a 9), but you can't ask for anything that much better even nowadays.
The score is amazing. It's far-above-par soundtrack is one of only two anime soundtracks Ryuichi Sakamoto (of The Last Emperor fame) composed (source: fatalist17 on Youtube). However, its sound is fresh from the 80s, and some people may not like it. Still, it shouldn't get in the way of enjoying the movie. Also, the seiyuu is excellent!
I've already talked about character development when I talked about the plot, but let me just repeat that the main character's easygoing nature was easy for me to relate to, and really helped me immerse myself in the film. I'd have to say every character is believable, even stereotypical stock characters like the quirky scientists. I gave the movie an 8 because there were two characters who annoyed the heck out of me - but that may be just a personal grudge. I won't say who, because I don't want to bias you before you watch the movie.
A great story. Solid characters. Awesome artistry and soundtrack. A nice dose of action. The very recipe for enjoyment. Now, enjoyment is subjective, but I still can't see how anyone would NOT enjoy this unless they were only in it for the action.
The production values (art and sound) for this movie are phenomenal! They really tried to make the characters believable - I found it easy to root for the main character. Of course, the storytelling is what really brings this film together. If you like well-rounded works, this is a must-see. If you get bothered by things like the slow scenes in The Godfather, you may not enjoy it as much, but I still highly recommend this masterpiece.
Wings of Honneamise is a perhaps one of the most underrated and under-appreciated animes ever made. It is clearly made for adults, not due to vulgarity or gratuitous violence, but due to its moral ambitions and its seriousness.
Ahead of its time. Amazing storytelling, a cut above almost every other anime out there, save for maybe Miyazaki and Satoshi Kon. The young director of this film really knew his stuff.
The art style is a bit old, but by no means is it bad. It is extremely detailed at times, and the animation is very fluid and stunning. I'd say it's around AKIRA quality.
Sadly, the weakest link
in WoH. The music, while trying to sound otherworldly, fails to enhance the scenes most of the time. There are two memorable songs, though, near the end.
Some of the best character development you'll ever see in an anime. This is the kind of movie that even non-anime fans will like. The characters are very well handled, and grow after each scene.
Extremely entertaining, well directed, amazing climactic action scene, what else do you want?
An extremely underrated classic. I don't know why the rating is so low. Seriously, go watch this movie. Buy it even, it's not that expensive on VHS. The fact that this movie is so underrated really depresses me, and makes me think twice about the taste of most anime fans.
I’ve never actually been compelled to actually sit down and write a review, until now. I simply cannot fathom how a seriously flawed movie such as Wings of Honneamise could have pretty much universal 9s and 10s here on MAL.
For the positives: the animation is top tier and holds up even today; on level with works such as AKIRA. The art and design also seems to have had a lot of care taken into them, with distinctive designs for especially the clothing and vehicles. The sound for the film is also great, although unfortunately, apart from a few pieces of music,
such as during the OP, the soundtrack leaves a lot to be desired, and fails to swell the emotions. The film also has one scene which was nothing short of phenomenal.
This would be Lhadatt flying an airplane for the first time. In this scene, the sense of sheer speed from the airplane is conveyed better than I have ever seen done in any anime, and I was yearning for more scenes like this, however, unfortunately it is the only scene in the film like it. Even the climax doesn’t match it in my opinion.
While the climax itself is undeniably well-choreographed, it ultimately had me yearning for more. Out of a 2 hour film, only a mere 7 minutes is dedicated to this scene, and honestly doesn’t do enough to build up the tension.
I can’t deny that the film has a lot of relevant commentary on political corruption and war; however this doesn’t necessarily make for an engaging movie, which leads to my biggest gripe with the film. There are few thrills to be had, which would be fine, but it needs to engage the audience in a different way such as with compelling characters and character development, that make you care about each scene that is happening. Unfortunately, this is the area in which Royal Space Force is lacking the most. While the characters can be amusing in a comedic way, they rarely reached the status of becoming truly likeable which is what would make a movie like this shine.
Lhadatt, who starts out of a character with absolutely no interest in space travel, (so little in fact, he arrives late to a dead comrades funeral), runs into a girl who spends her free time preaching on the streets. After a meeting with her, he suddenly has all the motivation in the world to actually do something. I'd perhaps get what the movie was trying to do if this motivation was a gradual thing, but here it comes out of nowhere, and it makes you wonder why the words of this girl had such a profound effect on Lhadatt.
It does mention in the prologue that he had always wanted to fly, but it doesn’t exactly give a lot of explanation as to why he lost this desire; and giving his character a complete 180 twenty minutes into the film cheapens the development that he could have had, and makes him seem more of a joke than when he actually didn't care about anything.
Later on in the film, Lhadatt does go through a small crisis over whether or not it's morally right to fly into space when people on the ground are starving. Which is an interesting dilemma. However Lhadatt doesn't seem to come to much of a rebuttal except running away from his problems and seeking refuge with Nondreiko so he can rape her.
Now the main girl of the film, Nondreiko, similarly offers very little character development or reason to like her. Her main characteristic is that she is shown as a devoutly religious girl, however there’s no debate or discussion occurring with her beliefs.
A tragic event happens to her midway into her film, which she brushed it off, stating that the church would help her, depicting her strength of character and belief. However, I was expecting during the film for her to crack and have her beliefs be tested, (provide some actual conflict, due to the shit the world kept giving her), but when Lhadatt finally returns her generosity during his crisis by attempting to rape her she didn’t snap at all but rather forgave him, and pushed the blame onto herself. Strong character development, yes.
Additionally, the child she takes care of, Manna, is annoying as fuck. While her unwillingness to smile is funny at first, it grows tiresome very quickly, and becomes borderline frustrating. However, at least when she does finally smile, due to Lhadatt, there is some symbolic nature, but it's ultimately a pretty poor development, especially when it comes right off the heels of trying to rape Nondreiko.
Meanwhile, the movie is trying to convince the audience that these characters are struggling in the face of condemnation; everyone thinks the Royal Space Force a joke. However, it doesn't do much in the way of making us actually want to root for these people for a good portion of the movie (besides the inherent fact that space travel is awesome.) They're often displayed as incompetent, unenthusiastic shmoes.
The other side characters, while amusing, are also complete baboons. The movie constantly tries to build up ideals only to destroy them later on. For example, during a chase scene, where Lhadatt is trying to be assassinated, his friend, rather than help him, yells at Lhadatt to stop following him, as it was putting him in danger. A character, who supported Lhadatt during the tussle with the pilots has to sully that integrity for comedic affect by acting like such a cock here. Here is a scene that could have been serious, and further shown the resilience and comradery of the characters ends up divulging into silly comedy, made even more stupid when the assassin appears to be an old lady.
There is enjoyment to be had with this film, I wasn't particularly bored at all during the film, but I wasn’t exactly thrilled either, with the truly exciting moments coming few and far between. Ultimately, its true let down are the disappointing characters. This definitely isn’t the pinnacle of storytelling or anime, especially considering other films surrounding its release. However, it does hold historic merit as it is Gainax's first film, and because of this I can recommend it to those who are interested in other Gainax productions. For others that only have a casual interest in anime or a plot of this kind, you won't be missing out if you skip this one.
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