The Concept of Honneamise and Film Production Diary

These two articles appeared in the pamphlet book sold at Japanese theatrical showings of Royal Space Force: Wings of Honneamise in March, 1987.

If you’re interested in reading more about the production and concept behind Royal Space Force read The Secret History of Gainax, then do yourself a favor and purchase Carl Horn’s fantastic Royal Space Force 25th Anniversary Fanzine.

The Concept of Honneamise
by Hiroyuki Yamaga [Screenplay, Director]

Although the work Honneamise is set in a fictitious world, it’s an alternate universe that’s meant to be a mirror that reflects reality. When you get down to it, the people that are living there are meant to be actually real. It’s not meant to be an alternate universe that’s a complete pipe dream. So then, why go out of the way to set it in an alternate universe? That’s because if it were set in the real world then too much effort would be spent portraying the “realness” of it. That is not what we wanted to do, we wanted to draw humans.

The image for the city of Honneamise was conceived of with Niigata as a basis. For a real sense of vastness to be provided, what a single person can understand to be city is a provincial city around the scale of a population of 500,000 to 1,000,000. Nerima and Musashino in Tokyo don’t count as provincial cities. Shinjuku, Ginza, Asakusa fit all the conditions, and they’re all small cities. We wanted to give the impression of a place where if you took a taxi for thirty minutes out from the downtown areas, you’d start to see countryside scenery.

In any case, the stage is an alternate universe, so it was necessary to have something that made it seem real. One thing we used to provide that was how we shaded things. We made sure there was a clear contrast. It didn’t matter if the dark parts were too dark or the light parts were too light. Another thing was the way that the sky was drawn. We really wanted to bring out the textures of the clouds. When they are seen from far away they look like they have shape, but up close they become misty vapor. We thought that if we could give a sense of how high we were above the ground, then when we got into outer space, that sense of height would come out even stronger.

Royal Space Force Production Diary

We set it in an alternate universe so that we could draw humans.

It was five years ago that the seed for this project was first planted inside the director, Yamaga Hiroyuki, when he was still a student at the Osaka University of Art.

Then, around a year after that, Daicon IV Opening Animation was made, and Yamaga and the producer, Toshio Okada, felt that it would be a waste to just disband the talented group that they had assembled for it like that. They began to think about their next work, not as an amateur undertaking, but as a commercial project. It was then that the story that took place in an alternate universe, which had previously just been a blip in his head, began to take hold, and between the two of them, the idea for it would be refined.

By the year after that, planning was taking shape, and the main points of the story had reached a point where they were pretty much unchanged from the final product. Now began the process of selling the project. The details of that process were quite long, so the abridged version is that Bandai took on the project.

However, this was to be on a trial basis, and they wanted a pilot film to be made first, so production began. It was then that the main production body, Gainax, was established, and a temporary studio was opened in Takadanobaba. This pilot film, which was abount 5 minutes in length, began production at the end of ‘84, and was finished in the spring of 85.

Bandai was satisfied with what was in it and formally gave the project the go-ahead. In the summer of that year, the main staff went to America to gather material, and luckily were even able to observe a space shuttle launch. After that they spent much of the year set-building in order to create the alternate universe. In the fall the screenplay was finished, and work on the storyboards for what would be on-screen began.


At the beginning of 1986 the work began on the key animation. To match the expansion of staff, the studio was moved to a location with a space of about 300 square meters in Kichijoji. In-betweening and finalizing, which was taking place at the same time, increased, and by June, filming was added to the hectic workload.

One long yet short year passed, and at the end of ‘86 the film was finished. The music production for the film, which had started in the fall of that year, also finished around the same time. After-recording was finished at the end of November, at the Abako Studio in Takadanobaba, and it was finally time for dubbing.

At the end of January, with a certain amount of retakes still left, there was a preliminary preview. And then on February 4th, with the retakes complete, it was formally previewed.

The work for the English version which had began at the start of the year was finished, and the first overseas premier for a preview in Japanese film history occurred and was met with great success.

And now it’s finally March. Watch out for Wings of Honneamise at a theater near you.

Translation by LAIKA.