The Wings of Honneamise is the story of the struggle to put the first man into space, set on an alternative Earth with similar but different history and technology. This classic anime was originally released in Japan in 1987 by Gainax, the Japanese studio now famous for the series Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The hero, Shirotsugh Lhadatt, decides that his purpose in life is to go into space. Even though all test flights so far have been tragic disasters – with space suits failing or rockets exploding – he volunteers to be the astronaut for the next test, and puts his heart into preparing himself mentally and physically.
Our hero meets the eccentric elderly men of the Space Travel Society, who are charged with the task of designing and building his rocket. Their ramshackle building, which is full of huge pieces of mysterious machinery and retro computer equipment, provides some of the film’s most impressive animated scenes.
Behind this action is a society full of poverty and unemployment. The Space Force’s gorgeous dress uniforms contrast with drab streets full of beggars. Corruption and secret political machinations underlie the whole space project.
As the rocket comes closer to launch, Shirotsugh becomes increasingly worried that it will be used for warfare, especially when the launch site is moved to the demilitarised zone between Honneamise and its hostile neighbour.