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Anime / Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise

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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 film that was Studio Gainax's first major anime production after it made its name with the famous Daicon IV short. The film is directed and written by Hiroyuki Yamaga.

In an Alternate Universe, Shirotsugh "Shiro" Lhadatt (voiced by Leo Morimoto) is a slacker from a middle-class family in the kingdom of Honneamano, who dreamed of flying airplanes since he was young — but his grades weren't good enough, so he ended up as part of their fledgling space program, the eponymous Royal Space Force. The program is essentially a joke — a collection of old dreamers assembling test rockets and a few young slackers and never-do-wells rejected by the real military and twiddling their thumbs when they're not being guinea pigs. Then, on one night on the town, Shiro sees a young woman passing out religious pamphlets in the middle of the Red Light District; for not entirely pure reasons, he takes one, and meets the woman, Riquinni Nonderaiko (Mitsuki Yayoi), later. During their meeting, he's amazed at her enthusiasm when she learns that Shiro's an astronaut in training. Riquinni seems enraptured at the thought of man literally and metaphorically ascending beyond the sinful world, and Shiro's agreement becomes more genuine by the second.

Later, the leader of the space program, Dr. Gnomm (Chikao Ohtsuka), announces that they're going to make an all-or-nothing gamble: to actually send a man into space. All they need is a volunteer.

But, if Shiro insists, and there's nobody else, they'll make do.

Royal Space Force follows the growth of the alternate space program from the design stages through the final countdown to launch, alongside the development of Shiro's courtship of Riquinni — and how her religious faith affects him. Meanwhile, the Space Force is being used as a political pawn, and it's not sure whether Shiro will be able to launch...

Tropes of Honnêamise:

  • Alternate Universe: The setting is similar to Earth during the early Space Age, but almost everything — geography, vehicles, telephones, clothing, eating utensils, you name it — is at least slightly different from what we know. The film is a stunning example of Worldbuilding.
    • Alternate Techline: Much of the mid-20th century style technology is functionally believable, but its design philosophy is often subtly different to how we'd do things in the real world of the same era. One example out of many: The cathode ray tubes of televisions are entirely circular, with all televisions shown with circular screens.
  • Anti-Hero: Shiro, an ordinary man who decides to volunteer for a little space project.
  • The Atoner: Part of Shiro's Character Development. His training in the Royal Space Force and relationship with Riquinni cause him to gradually realise he's been a pompous, self-centered jock for years, and make him question his attitudes. Ultimately, he becomes more compassionate to others as a result. One of the tipping points is when he nearly rapes Riquinni, only to come to his senses and be overcomed by a massive feeling of shame. That Riquinni is nice and forgiving to him even after he sexually assaulted her only twists the blade further. The embarrassment over the whole thing changes Shiro for the better.
  • Car Fu: At the railway station, the assassin tries to kill Shiro with a street sweeper.
  • Central Theme: Humanity is imperfect and we need to be kinder to each other and the world we inhabit.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Something of a meta-example: The movie starts with an extended montage of abstract portraits of what are presumably the great figures of Shiro's world. The paintings seem to depict eerily familiar alternate universe versions of Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama, and Kaiser Wilhelm, among others. The montage returns at the end of the movie, and Shirotsugh has become one of these figures.
  • Cool Plane: Honneamise's pusher-prop and jet fighters (based on the Kyushu J7W), the Republic's jet fighters (based on Cold War designs), and a couple of large transport/tanker planes.
  • Costume Porn: Part of the Worldbuilding, including the court robes, ornate military uniforms, and Shiro's realistic spacesuit.
  • Constructed World: The film is set in an alternate version of Earth, with no recognizable real-life countries and a considerably different pattern of history, with the in-universe present day being a collage of various decades.
  • Creepy Child: Manna, Riquinni's sister. Her demeanor is justified: Manna is clearly the product of an abusive home. Riquinni says that her parents used to yell a lot, and when Shiro tries to rape Riquinni, only to be knocked out, Manna wakes up, blinks, then goes right back to sleep as if nothing unusual had happened.
  • Crystal Dragon Jesus: Riquinni's preaching of her religion sounds a lot like Evangelical Christianity; however, the mythology shown in its holy book has Ancient Greek and Eastern themes.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Honneamise and the Republic both look like a combination of Japan, Europe (or the mid-century US), and Mayincatec.
  • Dawn of an Era: Everyone on the battlefield stops to watch in awe as the rocket launches.
  • Diesel Punk: More than just an aesthetic. Almost every item of technology was re-imagined with no reference to earthly designs. The world has coins, motorcycles, etc., but not like you've ever seen.
  • Dub Pronunciation Change: Some translations of the movie offer alternative spellings for the main characters' names. For instance, Shiro's last name may also be shown as "Lardhatt", while Riquinni's name is also shown as "Lequinni Nondelaiko"
  • Epic Movie: The film is designed as the animated equivalent of one, featuring lavish animation, a Pop-Star Composer in the form of one of the members of the single most iconic and influential band in Japanese history, and a grand, drawn-out story that takes place over the course of two hours (which by animation standards may as well be eons) and concludes in a flashy climax.
  • Extreme Doormat: Riquinni passively accepts most of the troubles that befall her in the film, because of her faith.
  • A Father to His Men: The chair-chucking second-in-command of the space force may be an ill-tempered hard-ass, but he firmly objects to cutting any of the pre-launch procedures, even under the threat of enemy attack.
  • Fictional Currency: Honneamise's rod-shaped money.
  • The Fundamentalist: Riquinni is fervently religious and spends most of her time proselytizing, and Shiro first meets her while she's delivering pamphlets on the street. Though he patronizes her in order to get close to her, he never quite becomes a believer, though her dedication and earnestness lead him to help her eventually, and even better himself.
  • Gainax Ending: The film ends with a highly symbolic montage of humanity's history and a prayer for the betterment of mankind, which while not as extreme of a case as, say, Neon Genesis Evangelion, is still somewhat left-field compared to everything leading up to it.
  • Gold–Silver–Copper Standard: Implied when Shiro drops his cash on the street for the beggars, though Honneamise uses rods instead of coins.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Omnipresent. Given the slice-of-life and down-to-earth approach of the story, neither the societies nor the individual characters shown can be said to be unambiguously good or evil. Honneamise is threatened militarily by the Republic, but Honneamise has an often ineffectual and corrupt government, as well as socio-economic issues with poverty and unequal treatment of men and women (likely the same in other countries as well). Shiro and Riquinni ellicit a lot of sympathy, but both of them have their issues. Shiro is more of an Anti-Hero for much of the story, trying to hide his disappointment at not fulfilling his childhood dreams under bravado, until he gradually becomes more mellow, caring and considerate. Riquinni is a very kind person, but also a bit naive at times and something of a Principles Zealot when it comes to her pacifistic faith. Both of them have their moments of hypocrisy as well. They're not bad people at heart, but they do have their issues, to say the least. The symbolic "history of the world" montage that appears near the end of the film also highlights that the humans of this world are as equally fallible and noble as the humans of our world. Even a milestone as wonderful as the first manned flight into space was beset by an accompanying crisis and fighting that left people dead. Shiro's sombre adress from orbit to the planet below, pleading for a more peaceful coexistence, comes across as full of humility and very humanist in its spirit.
  • Implacable Man: The assassin sent to kill Shiro. The sequence in which Shiro tries to run away (and eventually get rid of) the man lasts five minutes with increasingly crazy stunts, culminating with Shiro hijacking a truck and trying to run over the man, and every time Shiro thinks he's dodged the man he gets nearly hit yet again by his silenced pistol.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The other branches of the military don't see a point in having a Royal Space Force given that there isn't anything in space to fight.
  • Jerkass: Though it's somewhat justified by the circumstances, Shiro is apathetic, disrespectful, sleazy and thoroughly selfish. What definitely isn't justified is when he attempts to rape Riquinni, although it seems to be the key to his Character Development as he becomes much more serious and dedicated after she apologizes to him for fighting back, which makes Shiro realize what kind of person he really is.
  • A Long Time Ago, in a Galaxy Far, Far Away...: The film's world is designed to bear only a tangential resemblance to Earth, being far-removed from the real world and with the only real analog to The Present Day being a low-level conflict between two superpowers.
  • Love Bubbles: Subverted. After Shiro first meets Riquinni preaching in the Red Light District, the scene fades to Shiro sleeping in a field of flowers. It turns out that he was actually sleeping in the bunk of the guy who died before the film started, with the funeral bouquets still in it.
  • Love Redeems: More of a downplayed, nuanced example. A key turning point in Shiro's ongoing character development is when he realizes he's gone from an idealistic kid to an apathetic and rather sleazy-minded young man. He started to take Riquinni's friendship with him for granted and failed to acknowledge she seems to prefer him more as a platonic friend. This leads to growing tension between them and culminates in an ugly moment of awful behaviour by Shiro, something he regrets immediately. After Riquinni doesn't want to bring up said moment, despite his honest attempts at apologizing, he realizes just how unfair he's been to her and what his attitudes to women were like. He does love her, but he was a selfish young man trying to mimic the bravado of others. He becomes a more caring and kinder person afterward, something Riquinni herself notices. While the ending of the story is unclear whether the two of them will ever meet again in the future, Shiro's experiences with Riquinni still led him to reexamine his life and become a better person. The Shiro speaking from orbit at the end is definitely a changed and more considerate person than the one from earlier in the story. Despite seeming more passive and stagnant from the outside, Riquinni also seems a bit different by the end, as Shiro's talk about the Space Force and humans going to space gave her new hope for humanity.
  • Near-Rape Experience: In what may be the film's most shocking scene, Shiro momentarily becomes lustful of Riquinni and nearly rapes her, but he stops himself when he notices the terror in her eyes. (She knocks him out by smashing an urn on his head.) The next morning, when Shiro tries to apologize, Riquinni instead begs Shiro to forgive her for defending herself! It seems these scenes were done to hammer the point home that Shiro was (until then) still a self-absorbed asshole, who ultimately just wanted to take advantage of her. Given how we see him being shocked by her apology and the positive changes in his behaviour (both towards Riquini and his work) that follow, the scenes were hardly meant as just a pure Big-Lipped Alligator Moment, but more of a lesson.
    • It also gives Shiro a new drive to succeed. As his conversation with Matti afterward shows, Shiro needs some kind of redemption -— but Riquinni can't forgive him because she's incapable of understanding that there was something that needed forgiving. Hence, he has to find his own redemption in becoming the first man into space instead.
    • In keeping with Riquini's portrayal as a deeply religious person, this is exactly how "turning the other cheek" is supposed to work, leaving the offender face to face with his sin and burning with shame over it.
  • No OSHA Compliance: The Royal Space Force's workshop, due to a tight budget.
  • Pop-Star Composer: The film's score is provided by Yellow Magic Orchestra alum Ryuichi Sakamoto.
  • Promotion to Parent: Riquinni.
  • The Republic: Honneamise's unnamed rival in the Southern Hemisphere.
  • Scenery Porn: Tons of it, partially helped by the in-universe cities that look different yet oddly similar to ours.
  • Shout-Out: The rocket used to launch Shiro is plainly a Vostok-K similar to the one that launched Yuri Gagarin into space in 1961.
  • Shown Their Work: Shiro accurately describes what it takes for a spacecraft to achieve orbit. It must be traveling at a fast enough horizontal speed (tangential to the surface) that it can remain in freefall without hitting the ground, and it must be outside the atmosphere to prevent friction from slowing it down.
  • The Siege: The battle waged at the end to keep the launch site of the rocket from being captured.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The male and female leads are Shirotsugh and Riquinni, but if you transliterate their names from the end credits, they are Shirotsugu and Riikuni.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The Space Force was ordered to assemble the rocket near a border area, hoping to cause a military incident. In addition, the nobles sponsoring the operation needed a way to cancel the space program without losing face, and intentionally set the launch site in the demilitarized zone in the hopes enemy forces would destroy the both the rocket and the Space Force itself.
  • Tap on the Head: Shiro is knocked unconscious one night. The next morning he's up and about with no ill effects.
  • Wingdinglish: The writing in Honneamise and the Republic.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Naturally, Shirotsugh has one of these moments when he becomes the first human ever to leave the planet's atmosphere.
  • Zeppelins from Another World: During the assassin chase, gaudily-decorated airships are seen drifting in the skies above the slums.

Alternative Title(s): Wings Of Honneamise Royal Space Force