WINGS OF HONNEAMISE (1987)

 

Format: approx. 125-minute feature

 

Rating: PG-13: Mature (BN, AC, V)

 

Type: Sci-Fi (sort of)

 

American Production: Manga Entertainment

 

Japanese Production: GAINAX/Bandai Visual

 

Grading

 

Premise:

A

Story:

A

Writing:

A

Character Design:

B+

Animation:

B

Artistic Merits:

B+

English Dub:

B

Musical Score:

A-

Closer:

B

 

 

Humor Content:

C

Action Content:

B

Drama Content:

A

 

 

DVD Presentation:

not reviewed

DVD Extras:

not reviewed

 

 

OVERALL:

A-

 

Synopsis

      On a world not too dissimilar from our own, where the level of technological development equates to the 1950s in our world, a young man named Shiro has joined his country’s Royal Space Force. The ultimate goal is to travel to space, but the idea is so preposterous to most, and the failures so far have been so rampant, that no one really takes the project or the RSF seriously, including its fatalistic pilots and even the shiftless Shiro himself. An encounter with an attractive and devoted young religious proselytizer named Leiquinni inspires him, however, and he soon starts vigorously striving to become his world’s first astronaut, to the shock (and dismay) of those around him. What ensues is a battle between those devoted to sending a man into space and those who, for economic or military reasons, see the project as a detriment.

 

The Long View

      Before continuing with this review, I should comment that it’s based on notes I took from watching it on VHS a year and a half ago. Hence the technical ratings should be taken with a grain of salt.

      Often seen with the tag “Royal Space Force” before its title, Wings is widely considered to be one of the true classics of anime. It’s even been proclaimed as the best anime movie ever made by some critics, although I think this may be a dated claim. Still, it’s an excellent story that’s well worth the effort to see if you happen to come across it in a rental store. It is also a significant title in anime history, since it is the title that put prominent Japanese studio GAINAX on the map and gave acclaimed director Hideaki Anno (of Neon Genesis Evangelion fame) his start, as an animation director.

      Wings tells a simple story, but tells it quite elegantly. It delves into every aspect of the project to launch Shiro into space – the sometimes laughable training regimens, the behind-the-scenes dealings to get the project financed and approved, the reaction of the military to the project, and the celebrity status Shiro earns for his efforts to become the first astronaut. It does not gloss over the unpleasant details, such as the economic effects that financing the project has on the country, (many think the money should be put to more practical uses, such as resolving pressing social issues), the threat the project is perceived to be to a rival nation, or the sometimes troubled relationship Shiro has with the aforementioned young woman. It does not try to glorify the mission, either, nor does the movie hype itself up with dramatic action scenes (although there is one). The story itself is drama enough. The wonder of the climatic launch in the midst of a military battle and Shiro’s words to his world from space is exquisitely captured and wonderfully set up. It is one of the best dramatic scenes in all of anime.

      Although its artwork and animation aren’t quite up to par with the best recent efforts in anime, the story and writing for Wings are as good as any you’ll find in anime. Setting the story on an entirely different planet is a clever trick, as it allows the writer to tinker around with details, giving us a new religion, different styles of planes and automobiles, and so forth while still telling a very “Earthy” story. The central characters are well-defined and not without flaws; although Shiro elevates himself by undertaking this project, he is still a very base man at heart, as becomes painfully obvious when he loses his composure and tries to take advantage of Leiquinni. She is a strong character in her own right, one so passionately devoted to forwarding her religion that she can adapt to and overlook almost any maltreatment; although she has to knock Shiro unconscious in the aforementioned scene to thwart his advances, she does not seem put off when a morose Shiro later tries to apologize, and even accepts most of the blame for the incident herself. Has her faith left her with a distorted view of reality? Maybe, but one gets the sense that’s she’s coping with an unfeasible situation as best she can, and without her intense devotion Shiro would never have been inspired to do what he does.

      Although most of Wings could get by on a PG rating, the scene where Shiro nearly rapes the proselytizer single-handedly bumps the overall rating to PG-13: Mature. That scene also has the only nudity in the movie, and it’s relatively brief. Beyond this scene there’s really no objectionable content in the movie.

 

DVD Extras

      Although I believe it is available on DVD, I have seen it only on VHS.

 

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Shirotsugh

Robert Matthews

Lequinni

Melody Lee

 

      Details on the English voice actor for other roles is not available at this time. If you have any information on this, please email me about it!

 

 

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