This movie ended up being a big surprise for me. Having purposefully avoided spoilers and even synopses before watching it, I expected it to be a full-blown action movie. Why? Well, because while I didn’t know anything about the plot of the movie itself, I did know that it’s held in high esteem, and I did know that it was created by the people who went on to found Gainax. At that point, I knew Hideaki Anno only for Gunbuster and Neon Genesis Evangelion, so the conclusion was easy to make, however incorrect it turned out to be.
So, indeed, I didn’t expect Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise to be a drama more than anything else. Sure, it had some action, but most of the movie revolved around the construction of a spaceship and musings on space exploration. Which was amusing to me, because after I learned that the Royal Space Force is a military force, my expectation of action grew even larger. In the end, the sci-fi setting and the struggle for a heavenly goal reminded me more of a combination of The Wind Rises and maybe Laputa than any other movie, but possibly with even less action than either of those.
Watching the movie was a strange and surprising experience, but it was by no means a bad experience. Even forgetting the visuals and the animation (which was fantastic), the themes and the presentation of the story felt really good to me. I did almost fall asleep at some points, but if I remember correctly that was because I was actually sleepy, not because the movie bored me. In fact, I found the occasional slow and quiet bits the most enjoyable, because I felt like I could actually imagine what it would be like to live in such a world during those scenes. I guess you could call it a very atmospheric movie. I loved it.