Anime World Order Show # 86d – Remembering When Gainax Was Special

As unbelievable as it is to accept the fact that Hiroyuki Yamaga used to be capable of worthwhile output based on the absolute horseshit he says nowadays, it is true. This time, Gerald reviews his favorite anime movie of all time, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise.

Finding copies is becoming harder, but at least they’re not quite as expensive as they used to be. Right Stuf has a few copies as well, as does eBay.

NOTE: We know you people who’ve seen this movie (and some who have not!) want to immediately start commenting RIGHT NOW. We ask that you actually listen to this episode first and then abide by the requests put forth. This is, in all likelihood, a futile endeavor, but at least we tried.

41 Replies to “Anime World Order Show # 86d – Remembering When Gainax Was Special”

  1. I agree with Gerald in that every time that I watch this movie, I learn something new about it. For example, the first time I did not realize that their comrade that had died at the beginning of the movie had died because of a leak in his urine pouch (I think that is what they called it) which caused a short that electrocuted him. The little details like that which can pace by quite fast and makes multiple watches a treat.

    I also like the end with Shiro by himself reflecting on what has just happened to him (I would like to go into more details but for anyone who has not seen the movie I don’t want to give this spoiler). The animation is simple and beautiful at that moment. I wish that more movies can do the same thing for endings. Don’t get me wrong, I do like the big explosions for endings but it is nice to have more thoughtful and reflective endings.

    The last thing I want to state is that I do agree with Daryl in that this is not a crowd pleaser with a club. I showed this at my club in college, and only people who were not into the current episodes of Inuyasha would watch it (this was almost ten years ago). Keep up the good work guys, and I can’t wait to hear Daryl’s review of Swallowing the Earth.

      1. It went okay with my club. The people that did stay to watch it thought that it was great but I will say that all the girls were mad at the two main characters so they all hated it. It was the ending that resonated with the. I would say that most high school anime clubs (and I doubt you can show this at a high school club) would find it boring but in college it may work; you just need to know the people.

      2. Based on my prior experiences in high school, I thought anime clubs had some definite problems when it came to getting new people into anime; they might discourage or turn off as many people as they encouraged. I like Genshiken, but, as it points out, much of an anime club is taken up with club drama rather than anime.

        So when I started college in 1987, I tried instead to promote it by just having public showings of various anime in dorms and advertising them, the same way you’d have a movie night for American films. I noticed that at my school that if someone was going to show, say, an animated film like Heavy Metal, or a Japanese film like The Seven Samurai on campus, nobody said you had to join or go to a club to see it–they just showed it–reserved two hours in a dorm lounge, and put up flyers advertising the showing the week before, and got a crowd. So, I asked myself, why should it be any different for an animated Japanese film? I wanted people to think it was normal to see some anime.

        When I did this for The Wings of Honneamise, I’d get 75, 100, even 150 people to show up, most of whom stayed. Nobody ever asked me about the attempted rape scene–as Clarissa said, it’s a depressingly realistic depiction of sexual assault and the attitudes surrounding it, and acquaintance rape was an issue people were well aware of on my campus. Actually, the question I always got was, “Does he die at the end?” or “Did he ever get back?” As liberal arts students, they weren’t quite sure ^_^

      3. As to Carl’s “Does he die at the end?”, I find that typical of many Japanese anime films of the time, that utterly ambiguous ending where something more concrete, more conclusive seemed to be needed. See also Megazone 23.

        Which might be why Sadamoto drew a victory parade image board illo. Man, I wish I could remember where the hell I saw that, I thought for sure it was the poster in the Animate book on RSF, but no.

        And it’s easy to question the fate, because looking as deep as I can into the design of the capsule, and what I recall of the movie, there’s no work shown on re-entry, recovery and landing. Maybe given the Soviet styling of the tech it was expected he would pop out of the capsule after re-entry and parachute to safety, like the early Vostok…blah blah blah SPACE NERD.

  2. I love Sakamoto’s work, but i really didn’t like the music that much in this film. By itself the music isn’t bad, but I think it didn’t really work in the more emotional scenes. Still, it didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the movie, which is truly an anime classic.

  3. An excellent, informative review of one of my favorite movies of all times. I think Gerald captures exactly why the world building feels so successful – a consistency to it’s rules.

    And – to tell you what I think as it were : That “infamous” scene perhaps didn’t bother me as much as it’s bothered (and deeply angered) others. It was a difficult and disturbing scene, but it didn’t make me think “Ah, so this movie seeks to endorse rape or apologize for it”. It made me think “The character at the center of this movie is far from a hero. In many ways he has been portrayed as average, but here we see that he also has the potential to do some terrible things.”

    It’s not like his character is especially cliched one way or another. He isn’t the perfect gleaming hero or the dark-brooding anti-hero. He’s not even a person with “one fatal flaw.” He’s a more fleshed out, “organic” person, and people can do some pretty terrible things, and often do. It’s the kind of serious, “heavy” scene that could not be easily dismissed.

    It’s also not the kind of material that anime ever seems to feel comfortable exploring, or that anybody would ever have the guts to attempt to tackle today.

  4. I’ve been interested in this ever since I saw the trailer for it before an old Manga release, and after this I’ll definitely pick it up. I had no idea the movie had such strong world-building (I thought it was set in the real world) and that stuff always does it for me.

    About “The Scene,” from your description I don’t think it will dampen my enjoyment of the film. I like it when stories gve give us flawed protagonists. A recent example would be True Blood, which reveals that several otherwise very sympathetic and likeable likable characters have done horrible things in the past. One flashback in particular is extremely hard to stomach and utterly changed my view of my favorite character in the show, but I’m glad the writers decided to include it.

  5. Gerald, I disagree with your notion that Gundam and Macross are special because they were more or less independent of some previous production. I mean, a lot of those forgotten Super Robot series of the 70’s were conceived as animation. Perhaps the distinction is more with tone and intended audience. It’s kind of weird; Dougram predates Macross and ran for much longer than either Macross or Gundam (or any mecha series save Mazinger Z) yet its current popularity is relatively small and there were no sequels.

  6. I’d have to watch it again, but I took the rape scene as showing how romantically inexperienced Shiro was. It’s sort of the way a teenager might behave on a date because they were just trying to imitate the movies they’ve seen. Just look at the way Bond behaves or the “love” scene in Blade Runner.

    And she apologized because she felt she had been using him. While she wasn’t interested in him she was interested in the financial support he could provide. She felt guilty for leading him on.

    While many might concern themselves over an attempted rape, consider how many stories there are where the hero goes about leaving a pile of bodies behind them. So what if the opponent is armed, does that really justify killing them? Star Wars is a good example. Han shot and killed Greedo yet by the end of the film he’s treated as a hero. And how many stormtroopers did Luke kill? The Empire was suppose to be the recognized authority yet they openly took up arms against them. These heroes were not innocent people. [Er aren’t you forgetting the part where all those bad guys had guns and/or would have otherwise killed the heroes had they not shot them first? –Daryl]

  7. I say this movie once over 10 years ago, and enjoyed it. I remember being confused by the scene. I remember thinking it must represent the turning point for the main character, since after that he turns around and works hard.

    If you show an anime movie to a non-fan and it has nudity, that is the only part they will remember. Other movies I want to recommend to non-anime fans but don’t because I don’t want them to think I am a rapist are Akira, Perfect Blue, and Ninja Scroll. To a lesser extent, the Cowboy Bebop Movie.

  8. I wasn’t bothered with that infamous scene. In fact, I think the movie would be a lot weaker without it, since nothing else could have driven the point that “Shiro is a flawed human being” more. It also makes his prayer at the end much more triumphant.

    I’d rank Honneamise near the very top of my favorite anime movies list. I love Patlabor 2 just a bit more because of the robots, but sometimes you just want to enjoy a good, human story.

  9. Re: the “Star Quest” dub: ask Rob Fenelon for his story about seeing the premiere of this sometime. From what I recall of his telling it to me some years ago, he and one or two others in the anime publishing startup he was working on were invited to the premiere of the dub, at Mann’s Chinese theatere in Hollywood. He went out there and sat through this generally atrocious dub with inappropriate and cartoony voices, and watched the rows down front where Toshio Okada and the other Gainax creators, who were having a running re-translation whispered to them by Toren Smith (I think) sank lower and lower in their seats as they watched their masterpiece be butchered up on screen.

    After the debacle Rob talked to the ADR director, and he was apparently rather upset about it. He had said that his company was hired to do the dub, handed a script but given no real background on what the film was. With a very short schedule, they naturally assumed what most Americans would, “It’s a cartoon, do cartoon voices!”; but as it went on it dawned on them what they really had here. He claims he begged the owners for more time to “do it right” because they came to appreciate what a great film they had on their hands. Unfortunately the producers just wanted the dub done ASAP, and this is what we got. Rob did say you could notice the voices becoming more serious and less cartoony as the film went on, probably reflecting this growing understanding as they went through it.

    Also, I think the appropriate American comparison for this film isn’t “Uncle Walt” or anything in the Disney canon, but rather that this film is the “Citizen Kane” of anime. Think about it. Kane was made when Orson Welles was only about 26 when he made it, about the same age as the Gainax guys. Welles was viewed as a wunderkind and was handed money with no strings attached and had total creative control, again mirroring the Gainax story. The film was a critical success but box office also-ran. It’s regarded as one of the greatest acheivements in cinema, and the studios would never do anything like it again.

  10. Probably one of your guys’ best review in a while. I’m planning on watching this based on your review.

    The way you described the scene, it seems to me like the American mentality of “the main character can do no wrong” is getting to you guys. I’ve enjoyed Japanese entertainment for a while now, exactly because the characters aren’t always perfect. You would never see a character like Aang from Avatar have a moral flaw like the character you guys described. Like Patrick Macias said [That was NOT Patrick Macias. That is a guy whose name is Patrick. –Daryl], maybe he was just inexperienced. An average guy probably wouldn’t be as sexually or romantically experienced as a guy who was in the Air Force or something.

    1. DO NOT SUMMON UP THAT WHICH YOU CANNOT SEND BACKE! Anyway, since I’m here, I have to say that of all the Gainax 1.0 productions, RSF is by far my least favorite. Sure, I can admire the artistry, the music, the world building, and the passion that went into it from a safe distance, but I just can’t deal with the passive characterizations and the story itself only comes alive in the last act — and then only briefly — when the drama finally demands it. But by that point, I’ve already left the video room with the rest of the plebs or put on Iczer One again. Like my total disinterest in the Ghibli cannon canon, I realize how unpopular this opinion can be and will continue to be. Carl Horn and I used to spend days at the old Bryant street Viz office trying to cast spells that would change the other’s mind about film, which only served to fortify the other’s stance even further. I’d face the same battles in Japan where anime screenwriters who had the original LD framed on their walls would gasp in horror when I told them, as Daryl likes to say when he wishes to grind his boot heels into Your Favorite Thing, “IT’S BORING!” Either way, I sold my combo HD/DVD screener of RSF at the local used music emporium and got about three bucks for it. The good news is that there’s no accounting for taste and not liking something is not grounds for execution.

      [That “BO-RING!” thing I do is supposed to be an approximation of Homer Simpson’s response to things from back when I watched The Simpsons! –Daryl]

      1. While I don’t agree that it’s a bad movie at all, I can agree that it is slow, and I can always support someone putting on Iczer One, a show I plan on reviewing too, which I’m sure will be exciting since Daryl and Clarissa both hate it, or at least can’t appreciate it’s trashiness.

      2. Patrick is evoking “The Case of Charles Dexter Ward,” so “backe” is correct. Daryl would know this, if he could just get past H.P. Lovecraft’s hatred of all non-white people. Toshihiro Hirano did; otherwise he couldn’t have made Iczer-One. I don’t know if Lovecraft also hated space lesbians, but he wrote so many letters let’s just assume he expressed the opinion somewhere.

        Having said all that, I do tend to come around to Patrick’s opinions on anime in time, so the past twenty-three years may eventually prove to have been mere prologue.

      3. I’m glad I’m not the only one who respects this title but wasn’t completely compelled by it. In its defense I was watching the crappy Manga video DVD so make of that what you will. The ending was the most interesting part but the payoff didn’t quite justify the long ordeal to get there. I actually did like the “rape scene” for reasons mentioned elsewhere: that it didn’t sugarcoat the world or the main character and added a sinister layer of realism/humanity that most other works wouldn’t dare tread. I wish Clarissa had more to say on this because I think what she did contribute most closely mirrored my experience.

  11. I really have to hand it to the club I put together back in Michigan. I showed them this movie on VHS with no subtitles, and it was one of the best meetings we ever had. We DID have a printed synopsis by (I think) Toren Smith, and one of the club members narrated from that. Everyone was completely spellbound. This was 1989. A different time.

    I don’t personally know anyone who gets bent out of shape over the rape scene (or, in fact, gets bent out of shape about anything in entertainment), but consider this: if Honneamise had been a novel rather than an anime, reaction to that scene would probably have been nonexistent. I think it stands out precisely because you don’t expect to see it in a “cartoon.” As much as we’d like to bury it, that trope lives on.

  12. I TRIED to watch this movie but couldn’t make it past the 30min mark.

    However, I will give it second chance just because I do think the artwork is beautiful and I actually like the synth music.

    But I really can’t believe that Gerald didn’t like the FSS movie.

    1. I can, and pretty much agree with him on FSS in general. I find the writing to be as opaque and elusive as anything from Masamune Shirow. After this goes on for a while with no relief, it demonstrates to me (A) lack of focus (B) ambivalence toward the reader and (C) no attempt at relevance. Three strikes and you’re out, Nagano.

      Designs are pretty, though. That’s enough for some.

      1. Agreed.

        Nagano can draw mechs very well (I think is character designs have much to be desired though), and his attempt at world building is far too general and without adequate rules for me to take it seriously.

        The FSS movie looked beautiful but lacked any sort of decent characterization or real story since it was all really a build up to stuff that you’ll never see or read. And the big reveal at the end is on the damn cover of the DVD and is clearly spelled out early in the show.

        Honneamise has extraordinary world building and is very clearly done with some set of rules and a very good buildup.

  13. Really enjoyed the review this time, so I’m going to have to watch this one as soon as I’m not cramming Japanese 24/7. I can’t really comment on “that scene” without having seen it I suppose, but from what everyone’s been saying it doesn’t sound like something that should ruin the film, just something that makes the main character less likeable (a legitimate alternate spelling, by the way, Daryl), which I’m fine with.

    I may try to force my group to watch it if they don’t shut me down (I think ever since I brought Crystal Triangle they’re skeptical of my taste, but I can’t fathom why).

  14. I got to ask Yamaga himself about a few of the points brought up in this review, even though Colony Drop totally did not receive interview time with him at Fanime 2010 and ANN did (I did the next best thing and just walked back into the Q&A line four times).

    I don’t want to give away too much of what Yamaga said, since my report on the panel will probably be put up on a Reputable Resource… soonish, but told me what he thinks about the dearth (not death) of SF anime and the future of standalone anime movies (it’s more nuanced than you’d think). I did ask him about the abortive Honneamise sequel: he says it was never canceled, simply put on the back back back burner after the movie’s chief investor, a big-time IT guy by the name of “Horie,” was charged with fraud by the Japanese government, found guilty and incarcerated for several years. Apparently, he is now out of the slammer and, much like Nishizaki, living the dream by investing in a project for commercial manned space flight. I guess he just cut out the middleman.

    1. Dude, I remember you! I stood in line too. I thought you had a very good question, compared to most of the other ones (I felt kind of embarrassed when some of those questions were asked). Anime is in such a sensitive period, isn’t it?

  15. I’ve recently considered giving the flick another whirl, because I was bored to death watching it when I was younger. Of course, I had just seen Apollo 13 at the time, and the way Manga sold it, I expected an anime equivalent. And it was unfortunately the anime equivalent to a Tarkovsky film, which means your mileage may vary. But even that effing discounted price tag for WOH is still insane. For that kind of money, I could pick up five more volumes of UY or preview four manga books! I really don’t get why the Bandai Visual people thought a $100 Blu-Ray or HD combo would take off here, especially for a film which even most Gainax enthusiasts don’t necessarily endorse much. And I still don’t get why it got both home video formats, while Freedom was only put out on HD-DVD.

    The last time the guy running the U.S. branch of BVUSA was blogging in English, he claimed these titles would catch on like certain indie CDs on Amazon. But he seemed to ignore my observation that the CD in question was discounted at a rate which would make it more competitive with the latest one-hit wonders. So, yeah, one day I’ll pay the ransom and re-evaluate it, or hope they screen it at AX again.

    “Han shot and killed Greedo yet by the end of the film he’s treated as a hero.”

    Considering what they ended up doing to Han later on in Empire and Jedi, I don’t see why that isn’t heroic. What? The world needs more loan sharks?

    “I’d face the same battles in Japan where anime screenwriters who had the original LD framed on their walls would gasp in horror when I told them, as Daryl likes to say when he wishes to grind his boot heels into Your Favorite Thing, “IT’S BORING!””

    I gotta admit that that’s how I felt about what I saw of Yojimbo and Hidden Fortress. Maybe I’ll give them another spin one day, too.

    Tim: Shirow’s all right in small doses when he lays off the gun and fascism fetishes.

    1. Agreed; the most recent Dominion manga was actually pretty coherent. But the secret art of writing is knowing how much to leave out so the audience can connect dots on their own and get involved as a “Socratic partner” in your effort. Shirow and Nagano both leave out way too much for that to happen.

  16. “If you find ‘Royal Space Force’ to be boring, then please come to Gainax to get reimbursed. But remember–this is an oral agreement.”
    —Toshio Okada

    In 1994, while working on the film’s promotion, I contributed a storyboard for the Manga Entertainment trailer of “The Wings of Honneamise,” although I don’t recall how many of my cuts were actually used. The phrase, “Another time, another world, another chance” was mine, although only the British version of the poster used that version (this is the landscape-oriented poster with the same art used on the U.K. release; it supposedly turned up as a set dressing in several episodes of “Hollyoaks”); the American trailer changed “another world” to “another land.”

    Gainax pitched the film to Bandai in their four-minute 1985 outline film as “Royal Space Force,” and they never intended for the film to be called anything else. According to co-producer Toshio Okada however, Toho-Towa, the film’s distributor, didn’t regard the title as having that marketing zing. In part this was perhaps a consequence of the Japanese language; “Royal Space Force” is spelled with five kanji together, which can look a bit uninviting and formal as a youth movie title. So “Royal Space Force” got demoted to being the film’s subtitle, a status it retained until the 1993 LD box set release, where it was finally issued under its intended name.

    During 1985 and 1986, literally dozens of titles were proposed by Toho, including “Terra Crystal Spirits of Fire,” “Galaxy Number Seven,” and “A Girl From a Faraway Space-Time.” Okada said that since the last big hit in anime had been “Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind,” they preferred something like that–literally “something of something.” That’s why the film was released as “The Wings of Honneamise,” even though the name only has an oblique relation to what’s in film, certainly compared to “Royal Space Force.”

    The Manga Entertainment trailer is actually far closer to the reality of the film than the two original 1987 Japanese trailers, which approached the problem of “How are we going to market this?” by straight making shit up. Mitsuki Yayoi, the voice actress for Leiqunni, was brought back into the studio to say a line that appears nowhere in the actual film–“Ai no kiseki–shinjimasuka?” (“Do you believe in the miracle of love?”)–which was then used as the catch-phrase for both trailers; this may have been intended to echo the subtitle of that other popular anime film of 1984: “Macross: Ai oboete imasu ka?”

    One of the unappreciated ironies surrounding the film is that the infamous changes made in the English-language “Star Quest” (itself a promotional gesture intended for the Japanese market, so it could be said to have had a Hollywood premiere) were really not that different from the liberties the Japanese press kit took in describing the actual original, undubbed film. It’s as if they looked first at what the film actually contained, and then decided it would be best to remake it for the publicity campaign. For example, the bible that Leiqunni gives Shiro becomes, in the press kit, a sacred book that the Royal Space Force is on a quest to find (presumably in space); Leiqunni herself is presented as a beautiful prophet instead of a plain street preacher; the press kit changes the assassination attempt to target her, rather than Shiro.

    The odd megalith that stands outside of Leiqunni’s church–seen only for a few seconds in the actual film (typically for Shiro, he contemplates it upon emerging from the outhouse)–becomes in the press kit a “symbol tower” that begins to shine once Shiro and Leiqunni’s dreams for peace are telepathically joined together–in one of the trailer’s openings, this is represented by streaks of lightning, and a pan down the megalith, now optically altered to be glowing in darkness. This idea was continued with the official film poster, which showed a distant shot of Shiro standing together with a praying Lequinni on the edge of a mountain, both looking upwards as, behind them in a valley, the megalith thrusts up through clouds while beams of light shine down. “What is the miracle of love,” asks the press kit, “that can change the history of Honneamise?!”

    Gainax, again, had nothing to do with this; it’s as if, in exchange for receiving complete creative control, they received zero control over the film’s theatrical marketing, which was shot entirely in widescope How-They-Lied-o-Vision. I don’t blame it on Bandai either; it was their first anime feature film, and it was natural to defer to the distributor’s judgment. People find the actual film controversial enough; now imagine you’d gone to see it based on commercials, trailers, and newspaper ads that made it sound like a cross between “Nausicaa” and “Yamato.” It’s difficult to say how Japanese audiences would have reacted to the film in 1987 if they’d had reasonable expectations of what they were about to see, because that opportunity never occurred.

  17. Discovering a bootleg tape of Honneamise at some horrible local Star Trek convention was one of the major turning points in my love of anime. In a I-had-to-walk-uphill-to-school-both-ways sort of confession that will surely date me, my anime-nerd pals and I had to watch it totally unsubtitled or dubbed, as such luxuries hadn’t really come into the mainstream at the time. We watched it obsessively, partly because we loved it and partly because it was one of about five anime tapes we had between the three of us.

    It IS a masterpiece, but looking back, I think what I REALLY loved about the film as a kid was that I could use it as an excuse for how “mature” anime was in comparison to the stuff coming out of my own country. Not really caring about that one way or another anymore, I tried re-watching it again a few years back and found it to drag a lot more than I had remembered. I’m not sure if this represents a personal regression or an evolution or what, but I guess I’m one for the gimme-Iczer-One-instead crowd now too.

    And Carl: thanks for the memories. I distinctly recall trying (and failing) to map the cuts in the preview to the film without success as a kid.

  18. Wanted to chime in quickly and say I watched WoH this week and while it didn’t get me pumped or anything, I was a little harsh on it on my original viewing. It was very pretty and thought out but I still found it slow.

    But this is coming from someone that likes most of what Gainax is making now (WTF is that Panty & Stocking show though).

  19. I do love Wings of the Honneamise, though it’s been a few years since I’ve seen it. It’s one of my favorite anime movies. No, it’s one of my favorite animated movies, period. One of my favorite movies, period. I love that whole alternate world, the sense of cynicism of the world of the characters versus the blooming hope of their mission after they begin to embrace it. The scene composition, the detail in the art, the execution of the themes, it was amazing, and remains so.

    Now, while the individual character in of themselves aren’t particularly compelling, but you become sort of invested in the fate of these characters and want to see them succeed.

    As far as the attempted rape scene towards the end… I’ve been all over the place on it. I remember the first time I saw it, I didn’t even react, like I didn’t understand what was going on. The second time, I thought it was distasteful and made me loathe Shiro and think that it was way too extreme. The past couple of times I saw it, though, I thought better of it. It’s a very startling scene, but I feel like it does sort of fit. I guess this was the “Shinji masturbating over Asuka’s comatose body” of its day.

    I really ought to get the DVD/Blu-Ray combo of this. It was way too expensive when it first came out, but it should be affordable by now, if I can find it.

  20. By the way, your describing Mr. Yamaga’s remarks as “absolute horseshit” made me think that we really need more than ever to get A.W.O. to Fanime, just so Gerald can tap on his back with a cane while he’s eating sushi, and say “Horse dick! No way! You are the…director!”

  21. One thing I haven’t heard anyone mention in regards to the apology is her inability to handle conflict. The reason she loses her house is that she doesn’t want to fight the power company.

    I think her religion may also be an aspect of it. She is very…Self effacing for lack of a better word, which is common in a lot of fundamentalists. She likes Shiro, so it’s only natural that she would forgive him for something terrible he does, while not forgiving herself for the perfectly reasonable thing she did.

    1. A Christian fan told me once that despite all the Christian motifs that anime likes to use–and despite the fact the religion in this film isn’t Christianity–Royal Space Force was the only anime he’d ever seen that conveyed what it was like to actually try an *be* a Christian–specifically, a certain kind of young, idealistic one who gets saved and then wants to go out and save others, too. Royal Space Force portrays realistically how most people react to this kind of person–they avoid eye contact and keep moving. Nor does that turn-the-other-cheek stuff get much respect either, when it’s just done as part of someone’s personal belief (instead of being used to achieve a larger plan or political strategy, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King).

  22. As to his re-entry, it is mentioned in the film, but only once. The mention isn’t made by a scientist either; it’s made by Shiro in his narration. He doesn’t think of it as a major problem, but clearly hasn’t given it much thought.

    While you can read into that a lack of planning for his re-entry, I prefer to think of if as the film recognizing that showing concern for what is going to happen after Shiro’s journey would distract the audience from his pinnacle. The man he is while making his speech is the most he can ever be. If the people are waiting for the next plot point, they can’t appreciate the moment for what it is: not just the high-point of Shiro and the Space Force, but one of the high-points of anime (and I say this as someone who found it a bit too preachy the first time I saw it).

    Watched the movie again a few hours ago (spurred on by this review), and noticed yet another fascinating thing I had never noticed before. When Leiqunni (trusting Carl over how I remember the BDV subs spelling it) returns to the church the night of the infamous scene and picks up the change she dropped on the floor, a look of contempt passes over Shiro’s face as he compares her to the homeless men fighting over his questionable charity. Is he comparing her to them, thinking that she is really just another begged riding his unwanted coattails? I haven’t decided yet. It’s something I’m going to have to think about. That’s why this movie is so fantastic.

    1. Shiro’s return from space is another one of those details that might be missed on a first viewing. Actually, the first three images in end credits show Shiro’s capsule parachuting down (it’s not clear if it’s onto sea or land) and Shiro, still in his spacesuit, smiling and being carried around on his friends’ shoulders. These images, of course, are done in Nobuyuki Ohnishi’s sumi-e style and the credits are rolling over them, but if you pause you can definitely identify what’s happening.

  23. Great podcast ya’ll. That’s for putting that funky tune at the end. I just discovered Ryuichi Sakamoto a few months ago, so my fondness for his music continues to grow. I’ve been an anime fan since I was a little boy, thanks to Battle of the Planets and then Robotech. But I gotta hang my head in shame when I say that I’ve just never gotten around to watching Honneamise. I’ll really have to change that soon.

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