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Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, released in 1987, was Studio Gainax's first major anime production after it made its name with the famous Daicon IV short.
In an Alternate Universe, Shirotsugh "Shiro" Lhadatt is a slacker from a middle-class family in the kingdom of Honneamano, who dreamed of flying airplanes since he was young -- but his grades weren't good enough, so he ended up as part of their fledgling space program, the eponymous Royal Space Force. The program is essentially a joke -- a collection of old dreamers assembling test rockets and a few young slackers and never-do-wells rejected by the real military and twiddling their thumbs when they're not being guinea pigs. Then, on one night on the town, Shiro sees a young woman passing out religious pamphlets in the middle of the red-light district; for not entirely pure reasons, he takes one, and meets the woman, Riquinni Nonderaiko, later. During their meeting, he's amazed at her enthusiasm when she learns that Shiro's an astronaut in training. Riquinni seems enraptured at the thought of man literally and metaphorically ascending beyond the sinful world, and Shiro's agreement becomes more genuine by the second.
Later, the leader of the space program announces that they're going to make an all-or-nothing gamble: to actually send a man into space. All they need is a volunteer.
Royal Space Force follows the growth of the alternate space program from the design stages through the final countdown to launch, alongside the development of Shiro's courtship of Riquinni -- and how her religious faith affects him. Meanwhile, the Space Force is being used as a political pawn, and it's not sure whether Shiro will be able to launch...
After an obscure and quickly forgotten Macekred release in English as Star Quest, Manga Entertainment faithfully translated and released Royal Space Force in Western markets. Bandai Visual U.S.A. obtained the rights later and re-released it on HD-DVD and Blu Ray, with Manga's dub track.
Royal Space Force contains the following tropes:
- Alternate Universe/Never Was This Universe
- Anti-Hero: Shiro.
- Chekhov's Gun: Something of a meta-example: The movie starts with an extended montage of abstract portraits of what are presumably the great figures of Shiro's world. The paintings seem to depict eerily familiar alternate universe versions of Winston Churchill, the Dalai Lama, and Kaiser Wilhelm, among others. The montage returns at the end of the movie, and Shirotsugh has become one of these figures.
- Constructed World
- Creepy Child: Manna, Riquinni's sister.
- Diesel Punk
- More than just an aesthetic. Every item of technology was re-imagined with no reference to earthly designs. The world has coins, motorcycles etc.. But not like you've ever seen.
- Development Hell: A work on the proposed sequel (or more precisely, Spiritual Successor), Aoki Uru, was started back in 1988. In the early Nineties the project was shelved for a number of reasons, but the studio still sometimes profess their desire to eventually complete it.
- Executive Meddling: Gainax was pressured to change the original title, Royal Space Force, to include The Wings of Honneamise, because Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was doing well in the box office.
- Extreme Doormat: Riquinni passively accepts most of the troubles that befall her in the film, because of her faith.
- A Father to His Men: The chair-chucking second-in-command of the space force may be an ill-tempered hard-ass, but he firmly objects to cutting any of the pre-launch procedures, even under the threat of enemy attack.
- Gainax Ending
- A Long Time Ago in a Galaxy Far Far Away
- Love Bubbles: Subverted. After Shiro first meets Riquinni preaching in the red-light district, the scene fades to Shiro sleeping in a field of flowers. It turns out that he was sleeping -- in the bunk of the guy who died before the film started, with the funeral bouquets still in it.
- Near-Rape Experience/Attempted Rape/ What the Hell, Hero?: In what may be the film's most shocking scene, Shiro momentarily becomes lustful of Riquinni and nearly rapes her, but he stops himself when he notices the terror in her eyes. (She knocks him out by smashing an urn on his head.)
- On the British DVD release this entire sequence is cut at the insistence of the BBFC.
- The next morning, when Shiro tries to apologize, Riquinni instead begs Shiro to forgive her for defending herself! It seems these scenes were done to hammer the point home that Shiro was (until then) still a self-absorbed asshole, who ultimately just wanted to take advantage of her. Given how we see him being shocked by her apology and the positive changes in his behaviour (both towards Riquini and his work) that follow, the scenes were hardly meant as just a pure Big Lipped Alligator Moment, but more of An Aesop.
- Promotion to Parent: Riquinni.
- Shout-Out/Homage: The rocket used to launch Shiro is plainly an R-7. However, aspects of the launch sequence, such as the slow-motion footage of the hold-down clamps being released and flecks of ice falling away from the rocket (all those in the foreground being individually hand-animated!) are clearly inspired by NASA footage from the Apollo program.
- The Siege: The battle waged at the end to keep the launch site of the rocket from being captured.
- Springtime for Hitler: The Space Force was ordered to assemble the rocket near a border area, hoping to cause a military incident. In addition, the nobles sponsoring the operation needed a way to cancel the space program without losing face, and intentionally set the launch site in the demilitarized zone in the hopes enemy forces would destroy the both the rocket and the Space Force itself.
- The World Is Just Awesome: Naturally, Shirotsugh has one of these moments when he becomes the first human ever to leave the planet's atmosphere.
- Wild Mass Guessing: Several seconds after volunteering for the mission, Shirotsugh narrowly dodges a flying chair to the face from one of his commanding officers. Was his superior just trying to terrorize the fresh meat. . .or test Shirotsugh's spatial acuity, an essential skill for a pilot operating in the fully three-dimensional environment of space?