Royal Space Force: Wings of the Honneamise is one of those films which reminds me of why I got into anime in the first place. This film cannot be considered as less than a masterpiece–worth five full stars! I am grateful to John Samuel of Pirates of the Burley Griffith for recommending that I watch The Right Stuff before watching this feature. One sees that Wings of the Honneamise owes much to this earlier film which concerns the rush to break the speed of sound and the space race. (Can I add that it is amazing to see Fred Ward, Ford Harrison, and Ed Harris looking so young? Pretty soon, I’m going to sound like my parents: “Is that so-and-so? Ah, he looks so young in that movie!”) But, whereas The Right Stuff concerned freedom, being who you are, and having the courage to brave any obstacle; The Wings of the Honneamise studied the divisions between people and asked the question of whether these divisions can ever be mended. I must warn you that there are spoilers ahead, but, like anything worthy of being considered a masterpiece, one’s enjoyment of such a work actually increases by knowing the themes running through this kind of work.
At any rate, the world of the film is very divisive: man and woman, nation and nation, civilian and military, rich and poor, secular and religious, and city and country are sharply contrasted. Each side only considers their own advantage and refuses to take the point of view of the other. A particular triumph of the film is how they were able to focus on the larger problem through the relationship of Shiro and Riquinni. They meet one evening as Riquinni passes out religious pamphlets. He decides to see her the next day under the guise of talking about religion. Nevertheless, she inspires him with the idea that going into space is a holy mission for which he has a special calling.
The begins a process of reconciliation between the two which frames the story of the Royal Space Force’s struggles in making the first successful launch into space. You might say: “What do you mean by reconciliation? Reconciliation happens after one or two parties have been wronged, right?” But, according to Riquinni’s religion–just like in Christianity–there has been an Original Sin from which all the suffering and division which human beings now experience may be attributed. Riquinni and Shiro both suffer from its effects: one is too high and the other is too low. Shiro is a secular, rich, and military man. Riquinni is a religious, poor, and civilian woman. The first part of their reconciliation occurs when Shiro starts to listen to Riquinni’s religion. The second follows shortly as he pleases Riquinni by telling her that he is a soldier who doesn’t kill. (As if there is something wrong with a soldier that kills the enemies of his country.) As a matter of fact, he even begins to study her holy book.
But, the problem is that Riquinni wishes to remain high–so high that Shiro can’t reach her, as was pointed out in her batting away his hand when he went to hold it. I am reminded of Samuel Johnson’s quote: “A man is in general better pleased when he has a good dinner on his table than when his wife speaks Greek.” Events come to a head the night after Shiro helps Riquinni pass out some pamphlets. Shiro is thoroughly stressed by negative media coverage, protests, and all the other hurdles those in the Space Force endure. He goes to her for hugs and kisses and gets the usual hospitality, which depresses him as he lazes about on the floor. Idleness ever sows harmful ideas in one’s head, and Shiro sexually assaults Riquinni as she changes for bed. Fortunately, the attempt is foiled by Riquinni bashing him on the head.
The next day, he sheepishly apologizes to Riquinni, who responds that he must forgive her; otherwise, she could not live with herself. Shiro is nonplussed, but I think that she more wants his forgiveness for her other-worldliness and coldness than for bashing him on the head. In his last attempt to visit her, he’s about to return to base without having seen her. Riquinni steps onto the train’s boarding platform as Shiro steps up into the train. They see each other and bid each other good bye as the train departs. One might wrongly view this as a final separation, but it actually marks their reconciliation: Riquinni has come down and Shiro has climbed up. Riquinni will still be there when Shiro returns from space.
As war breaks out between Shiro’s land and their greatest enemy, Shiro risks his life to get into space. While in space, he leaves a message for mankind. Essentially, he hopes for reconciliation between all peoples, but only God can bring this about. He calls prayer the humblest and noblest action a man can do, because one reveals one’s utter need of God and trusts in Him. People are helpless in the face of ignorance, sin, and division, but God can solve all of these problems.
So yes, your life is not complete until you have seen this film. Stay tuned for my review of Wolf Children!