Golden Age Theater
Directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga
Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise was released in 1987 as the flagship film for the new studio Gainax. The film was written and directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga, a 26 year old upstart looking to make his name alongside a new wave of generational talent. The crew includes some impressive names like Sadamoto, Itano, Masuo, Inoue, Maeda, and of course Hideaki Anno.
The basic story of a careless man who falls for a female and an ideal she represents, who goes on to do great things. Its pretty standard, but Wings of Honne would try and do more with it. Through a series of montages and sequence storytelling. Wings of Honne expands the stories of the dreaming scientists, political anglings, war, and the human spirit. These sequence are interesting to see on their own, especially the final sequence that aims to make a 2001: A Space Odyssey or Tree of Life type send off.
Final 5 minute Sequence
Series like Ghost in the Shell and Akira hold the title of ‘must see Sci Fi anime’ for good reason. While Wings of Honne is a fantastic artistic and experimental film, this montage style narrative and overly expansive script left a lot to be desired. While the grand picture is impressive, the fine details lacked in a way that the true great films do not.
Love, War, and Human Nature
Shiro, our main character, begins the film as a man leading a bland life. Opening on his admission that he was not smart enough to become a pilot, Shiro has fallen into the Space Force. He is so apathetic that attending a friends funeral seems all too bothersome, and going for drinks with comrades is the only thing to grab his attention. With his friend skipping off to a whore house, Shiro looks around at the all too flashy life around him feeling empty. Everything is sex, bright lights, and indulgence that dulls the senses and from this noise comes a single voice, calling for repentance and acceptance of a god.
Riquinni is a religious and damaged woman who looks after a similar young girl, and their dedication to the idea of a pure existence catches Shiro’s attention. Through the film, their relationship is tested and shows the pain that can come from the pure ideal. Shiro grows to love Riq, and she becomes the pillar that holds up his drive towards space. Her importance is driven home when he leaves the Space Force the second she calls for help, desperation to save her in his eyes.
Soon after, as he spends the next few days with her and feels like an outsider, he becomes the same apathetic man at the beginning of the film. Though he loves her, the connection between them is distanced and any attempt to bring them closer is rejected. This comes to a boil when he decides to take action, and what is famously known as the ‘rape scene’.
While Shiro is certainly making an aggressive move, the intention and circumstance is often ignored. His soul is eating away at him, facing death likely within the month, and his only connection to life keeps her distance. At his lowest point, he attempts to reach out to form a real connection as defined by the modern humanity, before realizing the moral distance between them. Even the next day, as he attempts to apologize, Riq demands that she was in the wrong for hitting him.
A lot of people in the West have latched onto this single scene. They rarely discuss its important context, or Japan’s cultural position on sexuality includes that includes the idea of a man ‘pushing the woman down’. Not to mention it was the 80’s.
This is Shiro’s darkest moment, and central to closing the arc of his determination.
In mirror to this story of love and religion, the world powers work to further their goals. The country’s leaders make corrupt deals with car makers to fund the Space Force, staining the name of these idealistic scientists. Shiro is a slow man, but those around him constantly mention the greed and corrupt nature of those involved. The launch is moved into controversial territory, and made into a pawn to draw war with another country. Finance and power made through blood, a perfect mirror to the peaceful separation of religion.
In the face of these two extremes, Shiro tries to hold the middle ground. Even as his life is threatened by hitmen, he attempts to maintain life.
This serves to help kindle the fire of Shiro’s goal, driving him to demand the launch even as war wages around him.
This is the spiritual core, and moral battle, of the film. While Shiro is captured by the quiet beauty of Riq, and inspired by her view of purity and space, he must also battle the sinful reality of man. This middle ground of the extreme is where we find our true nature of humanity. Funded by greed, driven by war, and inspired by the human drive for greatness,
Shiro uses all of this duality that surrounds him as he reaches orbit to serve as the world’s first astronaut, and quiet observer of the ‘stars of the world’.
A beautiful idea, executed in an interesting way, and animated at the highest level. Wings of Honneamise is not quite a masterpiece, but certainly has a Golden tinge.