Friday, June 08, 2012

Royal Space Force (1987)

Many moons ago, there was an old theater called "The Major". I used to go there in the early 90s to watch punk bands.

And, in the lobby, they had a poster for The Wings of Honneamise. Many a drunken night, I would stumble into said lobby and stare intently at that poster, trying to figure it out.

Years later, I watched one of the greatest anime I have ever seen.

I've been teased a good amount for my love of The Wings of "Honey-Mayonnaise", but it really is one of my favorite anime of all time. When I finally got a job that paid more than $6 an hour, I hauled ass and bought a copy on VHS. I watched it at least once a month. I showed it to everyone I knew.

It's an odd opening. Simple charcoal drawings show us an industrial revolution that happened on an alternate Earth. This is how we learn the level of tech for our story.

Our hero, Shirotsugh Lhadatt, is the kind of guy who is late for a funeral, sleeps in a dead man's bed (flowers and all), and generally coasts through life. It's when he meets Riquinni Nonderaiko, a religious nut, that he decides he wants to do something with his life.

Riquinni is more in this trailer than the pilot I posted above. Personally, I find her annoying and a major weakness in the plot. Although, an ex-boyfriend of mine tried to tell me she was whoring (to explain the pseudo-rape sequence that has always felt out-of-place for me). This, in no way, makes her a more interesting character. I understand that her faith is what drives Shirotsugh to push for outer-space, but I still dislike her.

For me, the film has always been about putting a man into space. We see Shirotsugh's training, the rocket being built, and the political intrigue surrounding the endeavor. The training makes up a good part of the film. Shirotsugh is a notorious goof.

In Spanish, even!

One of the slight differences in this version of our world is the two major super-powers share a border. We get some scenes of their side of the fence and--and this is purely my opinion--this is handled better in the sub than the dub. In the sub, we get to hear these strange people speak their language (it sounds a bit like Esperanto to me), while Japanese subtitles explain what they are saying. In the dub, they speak English. The mystery is gone.

Because we have two super-powers going after each other, someone tries to assassinate Shirotsugh. For the most part, he runs away. When he finally does stand his ground, we get to see a side of him that has remained hidden until now.

Wounded, determined, our hero makes a crummy little kid smile.

This is the same kid he nearly strangled in an earlier scene. No, that does not make him an awful person.

When the launch finally does happen, it does so in disputed territory. A huge battle rages around our explorers, halted by man reaching for the stars.

Now, here's what we used to do in the late 90s: we'd spend all night watching movies and, invariably, there would be one that saw us to sunrise (another good one is Mishima). This is one of the greatest "watch it 'till it's blue out" movies, and mostly because of this sequence.

Hell, I love it so much, let's see it again.

"And the monkeys watched in awe...."

I weep. I openly weep every time I watch that rocket go up. There are very few things in this world that can make me feel this way. There's a reason this movie was the subject of my very first AMV. I feel very strongly about this. I seriously love this scene like little else. I love this movie.

Now, you must be asking, "Hey, if you're watching this until dawn, you must be smoking out and hanging with the O.T.O, or something weird like that. Where's the Gainax ending?"

What? You thought that was something new? Sweeties, they were doing that as early as 1987. Behold, a terrible dub that sucks the language out of a powerful scene, and yet...

We've traveled so far, but we've hardly moved an inch.

This is a largely forgotten anime. It was never a series; it came out a long time ago. It is still, even now, one of the finest uses of the medium. Rent it, watch it, and I hope you love it.

Or, at the very least, watch this. It's not a great video, but it is a great remix.

All around us, there's nothing but fakes.
Ride with me, on the biggest fake of all.

"Pictures at an Exhibition", FTW.


Christopher Sobieniak said...

Excellent review!

Danno Baker said...

It's a wonderful science fiction film, except for a few flaws. The parts you mention. But I don't think the flaws take away from the final reel. The launch in the middle of the fightfire is still powerful and emotional. As a whole it's an inspiring film. It's one of the few animated movies that I think are must see films. This really needs to get the Criterion treatment.

Dr. Mila said...

Geeze, the sequences with Riquinni are even the weakest parts of the remix video.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

I just noticed it's up on Hulu right now, so Americans have a chance to watch it freely for now!

Netflix will apparently get it soon too.

Will said...

Ah yes, this film. And the launch scene? Every time I see that (because of your suggestions), I say the same thing.


Now I need to get it back from whomever I loaned it to.