Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray and DVD Review)
July 8, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“The definitive ‘Honnemaise no Tsubasa’ release yet. The Blu-ray enhances this highly praised 1987 film which showcases the beautiful animation but with a special booklet that goes even further of how special this film truly is. This latest release ranks in the top 3 of must-own releases for the anime DVD or Blu-Ray collector.”
DVD TITLE: Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honnemaise
DURATION: Approx. 120 minutes + 5 minutes
DVD INFORMATION: Two discs included. Blu-ray disc and DVD.
CATALOG #: BUXH0124
COMPANY: Banda Visual/Honneamise
RATING: Suggested 13 and Up
ORIGINAL PLANNING, SCREENPLAY & DIRECTOR: Yamaga Hiroyuki
CHARACTER DESIGN & ANIMATION DIRECTOR: Sadamoto Yoshiyuki
ANIMATION DIRECTORS: Anno Hideaki, Iida Fumio, Moriyama Yuji and Sadamoto Yoshiyuki
DIRECTOR OF SPECIAL EFFECTS: Anno Hideaki
MUSIC DIRECTOR: Sakamoto Ryuichi
ANIME PRODUCTION: GAINAX
Shirotsugh: Morimoto Reo
Riqunni: Yayoi Mitsuki
Manna: Murata Aya
Matti: Sogabe Kazuyuki
Soldier: Uchida Minoru
Announcer: Tokumitsu Kazuo
“I will not give up. I will realize my dream…even if it means death!”
Acclaimed by anime fans all over the world, Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise” comes back to life 20 years after its original release! The stirring odyssey created by nascent anime masters of GAINAX is still unsurpassed for its meticulous artistry and heartfelt drama of a young man’s coming of age in a turbulent world!”
My first viewing of “The Wings of Honneamise” was back in the early 90’s and to tell you the truth, because it was in straight Japanese, I had no idea what the storyline was about. But of course throughout the next decade, there would be several releases such as a dub version by L.A. Hero, then came the Manga entertainment release which a dubbed and subtitled version were release and had to buy both and then a DVD release by Manga Entertainment (which was overcompressed) was released.
But 20 years later, Bandai Visual/Honneamise released a “Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise” via a combo pack for those who preferred to own it via the DVD+HD/DVD or DVD+Blu-ray Disc.
Because this film has been reviewed so many times throughout the past decade online, I’m going to review this release a bit differently.
It’s one thing for us, that have been around for a long time viewing anime to simply claim that this film is one of the best releases out there especially if you have knowledge of GAINAX and the history behind this film.
But for today’s modern anime fan, after reading reviews online of “Why?” or “what is the significance of this film?”, let alone hearing comments that this film is appreciated for mainly older anime fans, I figured I best explain the significance of this animated film and possibly reach out to newer anime fans who may not be familiar with this film.
Back in the 70’s and 80’s, the majority of anime films were typically edited compilations from popular television shows. One of the most popular examples of this are the “Mobile Suit Gundam” trilogy films which more or less compiled and edited 50 TV episodes. And many films were created by live-action directors and the main sponsors of these films were national sponsors and toy manufacturers (this is explained in detail by an accompanying booklet included with the box set written by Hikawa Ryusuke).
But in the 80’s, a group of young amateurs known as DAICON FILM which were a group of college students that created anime shorts via 8mm film were given a chance to create a 35mm theatrical movie.
This was very rare in the industry especially since these young students haven’t had any actual achievements with the exception of Sakamoto Ryuichi (music director of the film) who was known for his music at that time.
These students had to prove that they were up to the task and the group which would be known as GAINAX would make their mark by this one film alone with its intricate animation and storyline by creating a new world, a world with its own language, a world with its own vehicles, style of buildings, the clothing down to the vases and jugs used by citizens of the country of Honneamise.
Every scene was well planned, from the dog fights of the airplane battles of how missiles flew through gravity, how crashing vehicles and its shards of metal and glass are flying around to the way an explosion was animated and how a fireball was truly done.
To create animation in the 80’s and to attempt to attain some sort of realism, “Honneamise no Tsubasa” (Wings of Honnemaise) was a complex film that these young creators put everything on the line and were able to create a film that was critically acclaimed and would lead to more wonderful anime such as “Gunbuster”, “Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and many more wonderful titles in the next two decades.
So, for those who rented the older DVD and asked themselves “Why is this so popular?”, you have to think in the context of when it was released, what was accomplished in the overall creation of this complex film.
This is not just a film to just sit for two hours and wait for some hardcore action, this is a film that you watch, you immerse yourself in the world created by Yamaga Hiroyuki, enjoy the character designs of Sadamoto Yoshiyuki and just be amazed of how meticulous the special effects animation was by Anno Hideaki and various animation by directors Iida Fumio, Moriyama Yuji and also Sadamoto Yoshiyuki.
OK, I’M SOLD…BUT WHY BUY THIS VERSION OF THE DVD, WHEN I CAN BUY THE OLDER VERSION ON eBAY or Amazon?
As mentioned earlier, there was a 2000 release by Manga Entertainment. It’s pretty much the VHS release that we watched back in the mid-90’s with director’s commentary. DVD-wise, the Manga Entertainment was just horribly compressed and it was unfortunate. If there was one reason to own that older version of the DVD, it was simply because it had the director’s commentary by Yamaga Hiroyuki and assistant director Akai Takami.
The version I am reviewing, Bandai Visual/Honneamise’s release is just light years ahead of the 2000 DVD release.
In fact, part of the reason why it took me a while to review this DVD is that I had to test the video and audio at friend’s home theater setups along with mine because the Blu-ray disc was phenomenal. I just had to find out if the video and audio is just as beautiful and awesome on a variety of setups. This DVD+Blu-ray disc combo set release is the definitive “Wings of Honneamise” release yet.
The Blu-ray Disc feaetures 16:9 (1080 p Hi-Def) video with a selection of Japanese: Dolby TrueHD (5.1ch), Japanese: Linear PCM (Dolby Surround) or English: Dolby Digital (Dolby Surround).
The DVD version is featured in 16:9 anamorphic (480i standard definition) and Japanese: Dolby Digital (5.1 chn) and English: Dolby Digital (Dolby Surround).
Presented in the aspect ration of 1.66:1, everything about the anime is clear. I mean crystal clear. The colors are vibrant, the explosions are just amazing to look at and the backgrounds is just beautiful. And I just want to emphasize that this animated film was created in the mid-80’s.
On regular DVD, both Japanese and English audio sounds very good considering it’s a Bandai Visual release and the company known for it’s quality treatment for audio and video. The Japanese version is in 5.1 while the English is Dolby Digital. But the audio on Blu-ray… My oh my! I had to test this Blu-Ray disc in several friend’s home theater setup outside of my own and I’m literally amazed of Dolby TrueHD sound and how it can enhance a film. With already a spectacular presentation in the video department, we were just in awe of how much alive the audio was. For those who remember every crowd or bar scene, imagine those conversations coming clear. The explosions and action scenes are phenomenal. The music sounds spectacular.
Once you view and hear anime in Blu-ray, especially done as well as the quality Bandai Visual puts into their products, you can’t just help but be amazed.
Both the Blu-Ray and the DVD feature a theatrical trailer and a pilot film that you can watch with or without English subtitles. Unfortunately, the director’s commentary on the 2000 Manga Entertainment release is not included.
And similar to other Bandai Visual releases is the informative booklet and this 20-page booklet is just very informative. Covering the history, the director’s perspective, the music and the animation, especially detailing Anno Hideaki’s special effects and showing frame-by-frame several scenes and the information behind it, it was total anime fan service to have this included in the booklet.
So, for the new modern anime fan or newbie who have read the reviews and saw many of us put “Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honneamise on top for must-own DVD releases, I ask you to not watch this film like you would watch a animated television show you would watch quickly.
Just immerse yourself into the complex world that GAINAX has created for you. Look at things visually and just imagine of how this was all created back in the 80’s and how much detail and what was accomplished at that time.
Almost like the world George Lucas has created for the “Star Wars” series and how fans find that special connection with a planet or land and its inhabitants, “Honneamise” is such a world where you can see how much was put into the creation of this world, the people living in that world and the language they speak.
How much was put into creating the world through its beautiful backgrounds and animation. Even the small things that involve a few frames, just the detail behind it is just simply amazing.
So, if you can immerse yourself into this world, embrace “Honneamise” for its complexity and its beauty and you will discover why many of us, old school anime fans, regard this film so highly.
+ The definitive “Wings of Honneamise” release yet!
+ The fact that you get both the Blu-Ray and DVD is amazing but the Blu-ray version is just incredible!
+ The informative 20-page booklet is informative and awesome!
+ And for those wanting an English dub, there is an English dub included in this release.
– No director’s commentary on this release
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