I have known about Honnêamise for quite some time, though I’d always postponed watching the actual film. I knew it was landmark movie at the time and was still regarded as a Gainax classic. When I heard word that the festering remains of Gainax were plotting to make a sequel, I felt it appropriate to finally watch the original. Even if it’s just so I can theorize about the sequel’s imminent failure with a degree of credibility.
Royal Space Force – The Wings of Honnêamise follows Shirotsugh Lhadatt. Once an ambitious young man hellbent on rising above his humble origins, he fell into a spiral of cynicism after failing to become a pilot. He instead joined up with the Royal Space Force, which is a laughingstock in a world where space travel is regarded as impossible. Their program has produced nothing except explosions and dead would-be astronauts.
Shirotsugh spends his days oversleeping, slacking off, and wallowing in the mediocrity of his life. That is until he one day meets a girl called Riquinni, a young woman that spends her days handing out religious flyers in the entertainment district. Something about her fervor speaks to him, inspiring Shirotsugh to turn his sorry life around. He’s going to take the Space Force seriously and help his country achieve a dream they didn’t even know they had.
All of this is happening set to a semi-dystopian backdrop. The country that Shirotsugh lives in is an autocracy; wealthy elites ruling over a nation where true justice is often a rarity. As Shirotsugh’s career takes off, Riquinni falls deeper into poverty and despair. How can a country afford to keep a failing space force alive while the average citizen can’t even afford to live?
However, Shirotsugh’s success has caveats of its own. As the Space Force proves viable, it invariably becomes tangled up in the geopolitics of this world. While Honnêamise doesn’t delve too deep into politics, things become quite exciting as war looms on the horizon. Something that affects Shirotsugh deeply, as he has to cope with his newfound passion being corrupted by politicians and commercialism.
We had a lot of fun with Honnêamise, but I do have to say that it doesn’t feel like sequel material. It’s all about the journey into space, leaving little else that an audience could ask for by the end of that narrative. It doesn’t do enough world-building to make you want to see more of this setting—the Ghost in the Shell-effect if you will—nor do I see much potential in side-stories being stapled after its conclusion.
I’d also be remiss not to point out that Honnêamise has some flaws of its own. The plot is a little too slow at times and the relationship between our two protagonists feels weak. The age difference certainly contributes there, but there is also just a plain lack of chemistry. For the most part, it feels like Shirotsugh is trying his hardest to charm a girl who is completely uninterested, but who also immediately forgives his grossest moments. Shirotsugh can be a real fuckwad at times, which Riquinni just brushes off after giving him the cold shoulder for a minute.