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.
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.