The Wings Of Honneamise
The Not- Quite- Right Stuff
Release Date: 27 April 1987 | PG | Dual- format Blu- ray & DVD/ DVD Director: Hiroyuki Yamaga Cast: Bryan Cranston, David Thomas, Patricia Ja Lee, Michael Frost, Dan Woren Usually when a film is described as a flawed classic, the flaw isn’t debilitating. It’s an annoyance, a shame, a mistake that irritates, but you can still enjoy the film as a whole. The Wings Of Honneamise, though, has one moment after which it’s impossible to watch the film in the same frame of mind, and which leaves you with a bitter taste at the end completely at odds with a climax that’s clearly supposed to be spiritually uplifting.
For much of its running time, The Wings Of Honneamise is a visually impressive anime, with crossover appeal for Western arthouse film fans. It’s set on an alternate 20th century Earth dominated by two great power blocs. One of them is developing a space programme in the face of disinterest from politicians and outright ridicule from the public. But as the project nears a successful launch, the other superpower starts to take notice.
There is action, but not until late in the film, when all- out war erupts. Before that it’s more like a bamboopunk version of The Right Stuff directed by the Coen Brothers: talky, character- lead and full of wry – and occasionally very black – humour. There are also interesting issues raised about the morality of spending money on space exploration when there’s so much suffering to deal with back here on Earth. The animation, from a pre- CG age, is gorgeous, with some moments of almost impressionistic beauty.
Then the film’s hero – Shiro, this world’s potential first astronaut – attempts to rape a woman. Worse still, the next day she apologises to him for leading him on… with a smile. This seems to spur in him a religious conversion that ultimately vindicates the cost of the space programme. Online, you can find some people trying to justify this scene ( there’s a hint he may have thought she was a prostitute, as if that makes it any better); it is, however, unjustifiable and not even seriously addressed within the film.
It’s too shocking a character development for the plot development it drives, and afterwards it’s impossible to empathise with Shiro. Flawed heroes can be interesting, but not this flawed.
Extras: Just trailers. The “Collector’s Edition” Blu- ray also has a 20- page booklet. Dave Golder We’ve stuck with the film’s best known title, but this release is being sold as Royal Space Force: The Wings Of Honneamise.
If you will eat those doughnuts…