atomic_fungus (atomic_fungus) wrote,

#2064: Finally got around to watching Wings of Honneamise again.

Damn it, I forgot how good that movie is. (I abbreviate the title WoH. Just so you know.) There are spoilers in here, but c'mon: the movie was released in the US 16 years ago.

I don't know how many times that makes, now, that I've seen it. I bought the dub on VHS one fine Saturday morning in either 1994 or 1995, for the princely sum of $20, and it turned out to be one of the wisest anime investments I've ever made.

(Of course I watched a DVD tonight. I'm no fool.)

I have never watched the sub, ever. I watched a little bit of the show sub tonight, but except for a couple of minor points the dub is perfect.

Problem one: re-use of voices. Melody Lee did Mizu Mishtal in El Hazard so I instantly recognize her voice whenever it shows up anywhere, and besides doing Riquinni's voice she did at least two incidental voices. It kind of breaks my concentration.

Two: there are a few phrases the script writers for dubs use to pad lines out, so that the speech of the character matches the movement of his lips, or "flaps". Some writers use it to excess. For the most part, this movie doesn't suffer from that kind of thing, but there is one line where it's really bad: Shiro is standing on the vehicle support structure trying to memorize his speech, and one of his friends from the Space Force is talking about how the launch site is atop a "cave man's garbage heap". He wonders what people in the future will find when they dig up the launch site?

"I've got an idea. How about this?" Shiro says.'s all "flourish". It took longer to say the rest, "They find two skeletons who don't have any answers," in Japanese, I'd wager, and there wasn't anything else they could have him say.

(Another good example of this comes from Tenchi Muyo! OVA 3: Sasami is chiding Ayeka for being antisocial, and says, "The father may be out, but I can tell you this: Tenchi is at home!")

"Flourishes" pad the line to the correct length without changing the content of the line, and in fact they're the best possible compromise, but they still make me cringe.

The dub of WoH is uncommonly good, though, even for 1994.

The world itself is incredibly complex and thoroughly different from ours. Gainax spent an amazing amount of time developing alternative designs for every basic technology we take for granted. The alternatives are just as technologically valid and obey the laws of physics, but they look different.

Example: Matti's motorcycle uses a suspension design we wouldn't use on a motorcycle. Where we use straight shock absorbers with springs, they use a sort of folding design. It looks cool as hell, but it would be fantastically expensive for someone to build a motorcycle that way in our world, because our motorcycle industry is built around using straight coil-over shocks instead. If our motorcycle industry had gone a different way, we might build them the way they build motorcycles in the world of WoH.

Heck, the MGB sitting in my garage has lever-type shock absorbers, which aren't that far removed from the suspension system of Matti's motorcycle.

All the aircraft use rear-wing with canard control surfaces. The enemy jets have drop tanks mounted atop the wings, and when released, aerodynamic forces pull them up and away from the plane. The prop planes have two contra-rotating propellors (we've built a few planes that way ourselves) mounted in a pusher configuration.

...the only thing I take issue with there is the design of the propellors. I'm not sure the props are "reasonable" from a physics and engineering point of view. For one thing, the way they curve would make it impossible to implement a constant-speed propellor design; and for high-performance aircraft such a propellor is desirable for a variety of reasons.

Still: everything is recognizable; there's no weirdness for the sake of being weird. Form still follows function; it's just that the form is different in one way or another.

The rocket engines look exactly like ones we build, mainly because their designs are dictated by the laws of physics.

The music was done by Ryuichi Sakamoto, and he was given license to make it different. It took me several repeats of the main theme to figure out what was going on with the clapping ("clap-clap; clap; clap clap clap clap clap clap clap clap" outside the basic percussion of the song though in time; and it alternates sides to make it even more confusing) and none of the instruments sound like ones from our world. It's not what we'd call "melodious" but it's neither atonal nor arrhythmic, and some of it is really good.

After seeing WoH, a friend of mine likened the ending of the movie to the end of 2001. I like it, though.

The attempted rape scene: it was the most jarring moment in the movie, by design. The director said we're supposed to understand what Shiro is thinking all the time, but that scene is the hardest one to understand. So here's my go at explaining it:

Shiro has had his eyes opened to the plight of the poor. His contacts with Requinni have shown him that people are suffering; and when a rich reporter asks him about the money being spent on the space program, he leaves the interview hall, scatters all his money in front of some beggars, and walks away. He ends up helping Requinni distribute her flyers, and spends the night on her floor (alone). He's unhappy with the injustice of the world.

The next evening she comes home from work, and as she's getting out of her soaked shoes, money spills from one of them as she takes it off--a not-inconsiderable amount, considering that she's living in a storage shed and wearing clothes that were given to her.

The money--I ended up stealing the design of the money for a story of mine (and I barely even filed off the serial numbers). They're rods, made of copper, silver and gold. Different lengths make different denominations. (And if I'm right, some of the money Requinni had was gold. But it might have been the lighting.)

Shiro realizes that Requinni--who is very religious and whom he took to be virtuous--is herself flawed; she's a freakin' miser! He concludes that even if the most decent person he ever met is that way--refuses to spend her own money on necessities, instead living on the charity of others--why should he try to behave himself? Why not just take what he wants?

...before he's even gotten to the point of undoing his pants he realizes, "WTF am I doing?" and she clocks him with some kind of candelabra or something, which knocks him cold.

It's my best guess; but it makes sense to me given the information that I have, and as I said the director said that Shiro's motivations are always supposed to be obvious.

The movie won several awards, and it deserved every one of them; it's really worth the time and effort to watch it.

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