Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

October 27, 2013 by  

Before there was “Neon Genesis Evangelion” or “Gunbuster”, GAINAX produced their first animated film “Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise”.  A classic animated film that looks and sounds much better on Blu-ray and deserves to be in the collection of an anime collector. “Royal Space Force: The Wings of  Honneamise” is highly recommended!

Image courtesy of © Bandai Visual/Gainax. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise

YEAR: 1987

DURATION: 125 Minutes

BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, English Subtitles

COMPANY: Maiden Japan


Release Date: October 29, 2013

Directed by Hiroyuki Yamaga

Screenplay by Hiroyuki Yamaga

Music by Haruo Kubota, Kouji Ueno, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Yuuji Nomi

Character Design by Yoshiyuki Sadamoto

Art Direction by Hiromasa Ogura

Animation Director: Fumio iida, Hideaki Anno, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, Yuji Moriyama

Produced by Hiroaki Inoue Hirohiko Sueyoshi

Anime Production by Gainax

Featuring the following voice talent:

Leo Morimoto/Robert Matthews as Shirotsugh Lhadatt

Mitsuki Yayoi/Melody Lee as Riquinni Nonderaiko

Aya Murata as Manna Nonderaiko

Bin Shimada as Yanalan

Hiroshi Izawa as Darigan

Hirotaka Suzuoki as Domorhot

Kazuyuki Sogabe/Bryan Cranston as Marty

Kouji Totani as Tchallichammi

Masahiro Anzai as Majaho

Masato Hirano as Kharock

Yoshito Yasuhara/Warren Daniels as Nekkerout

In a world eerily similar to our own, war between the Kingdom of Honneamise and its archrival, The Republic, seems inevitable. But even as the two nations’ rapidly evolving technology creates new ways to wage greater and more deadly forms of warfare, a small group seeks to use those same advances to propel mankind forward into the future and into space in their world’s first manned spaceflight program. For astronaut candidate Shirotsugh Lhadatt, it’s not just a journey beyond the reach of the atmosphere, but a personal odyssey as he grows from an aimless young man into a leader willing to put everything on the line in order to move the human race forward and away from the brink of Armageddon. Prepare to witness the legendary film that revolutionized the anime industry, launched the careers of dozens of today’s animation superstars and put Studio Gainax forever on the map as one of Japan’s premiere production houses. Staggering animation, brilliant storytelling and a scope that goes beyond epic combine to produce an emotional powerhouse that will send your spirit flying towards the stars with THE ROYAL SPACE FORCE: WINGS OF HONNEAMISE!

In 1987, Hiroyuki Yamaga’s “Oritsu Ucugun: Oneamisu no Tsubasa” (“Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise”)  was released in theaters.

The film has its place in Japanese animation history as being the first film produced by Gainax and Bandai Visual.  A film that received praise from American film critic, Roger Ebert, the film has been released several times on video in the United States within the last 25 years.

And now, the second Blu-ray release of “Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise” will be released in the U.S. but this time, courtesy of Maiden Japan.

“”Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise” is set on an alternate Earth during a time of war between the Kingdom of Honneamise and The Republic.

The film focuses on Shirotsugh Lhadatt, an astronaut in the space program which hasn’t really amounted to much.  But for this unmotivated individual and after the death of a fellow astronaut, Shirotsugh meets a religious woman named Riquinni Nonderaiko, who believes in his work and tries to motivate him to become the first man in space.

But with the challenges that the space program is experiencing the political obstacles between both warring nations, will Shirotsugh continue to fly in space despite the challenges?


“Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  There are two things that I need to first bring up, one, this is a 1987 animated film, so you are going to see some issues with noise and also some scenes that have a bit of wear.  There is a good amount of grain, colors are much better on certain scenes but compared to the older DVD and VHS release, the Blu-ray release is so much better.

The second thing that I know people are wondering is if there is a difference between the Maiden Japan version and the Bandai Visual/Honneamise release.  There is, but it’s very slight.  Top photos are Maiden Japan, bottom comparison photo are Bandai.  Please note that these are not screen captures, they were taken by a camera and thus are cropped differently:


“Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 and the Japanese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  One may think there would be a difference between the Japanese lossless soundtrack but there’s not much use of surround activity in the Japanese version.   But dialogue and music are crystal clear on both soundtracks.

As for the difference between the Maiden Japan version and the Bandai Visual/Honneamise version, the Bandai version features three different soundtracks: Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1, Japanese Linear PCM (Dolby Surround) and English Dolby Digital (Dolby Surround) soundtracks.

Subtitles are in English.


“Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise” comes with the Japanese trailers (22:53).

The Maiden Japan version has more trailers than the Bandai version which featured around two minutes of trailer and a pilot film (both are included in the Maiden Japan Blu-ray release).  But the difference are in extras as the Bandai Visual came with a DVD in clear DVD cases (the Maiden Japan features the Blu-ray in a Blu-ray case) and came with a slipcase and booklet.

As mentioned earlier, there was a 2000 DVD 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 was most 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, which has not been included in any Blu-ray release yet.

I guess you can say that I grew up watching “Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise”.

My first viewing of “The Wings of Honneamise” was back in 1993 through a local anime club in straight Japanese and aside from few people who spoke the language, for many of us, it was not exactly easy to follow and we were more amazed by the state of Japanese animation at the time.

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 which I bought both and then followed by a heavily compressed DVD release by Manga Entertainment.

Suffice to say, with the release of Blu-ray,  in 2007, 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.

And here we are in 2013, with a new Blu-ray release by Maiden Japan.

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 and immerse yourself in the world created by Yamaga Hiroyuki. Enjoying 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.

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 anime on Blu-ray releases, especially if you enjoy old school anime.  It’s a film that is deep and one that you probably watch over and over and discover something new each time.

I asked that if you are curious about the film, to 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.

I know many people have asked the difference between the 2013 Maiden Japan Blu-ray release and the 2007 Bandai Visual/Honneamise Blu-ray release and the fact is that both are very good, but the fact is the Bandai Visual version has been out of print and truthfully, PQ and AQ are not much different, just a slight difference and that’s it.   You also get more special features with the Maiden Japan release, just no booklet and slipcase.  And the Maiden Japan is DTS-HD MA, while the Bandai Visual release was Dolby TrueHD.

While previous owners may not want to to double-dip, for those who are curious and do not own this film on Blu-ray, I highly recommend this Maiden Japan release.

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