This is review number two hundred.
I have reached 20% of my goal. It only took me a year and one month to do so. This is a great accomplishment for me and it feels really satisfying. This journey of mine has a long ways to go but damn it, it’s the little things that keep me going. Anyways, I’ll be reviewing a movie. It’s called “Welcome to the Space Show” or Uchuu Show e Youkoso. I’ll put it in my alphabetical list in the “W” though so I finally have an anime under the letter. I already have a “Q” in mind. It’ll be Queens Blade. The letter X will be a wild card though because I want something recent for that letter. Here’s hoping 2013 anime have some anime beginning in X. So this movie is about a bunch of kids and a talking dog in space!!!! That’s really it. Ok, then. The personal victory is achieved and the moral one is rewarded. Let’s read on.
The anime is about five kids spending their summer vacation alone in their school. While searching for their pet rabbit, they suddenly saw a dog badly hurt in a crop circle. They took the dog in and healed him. They didn’t expect the dog to talk though. They also didn’t expect him to be an alien. He was so grateful to the kids that he wanted to do them a favor in return for saving his life. They all agreed on one thing. They wanted to go far away and had the vacation they were supposed to have. Pochi, the dog, had the perfect idea. He took them to the moon. This little side trip was supposed to end that day though but due to certain circumstances, the five kids suddenly spent their entire summer vacation in space.
Taking the Pants Off
Welcome to the Space Show claimed that it has a story bigger than Star Wars. That’s a pretty big claim for an animated movie. I think it was just baiting audiences though. Does it have a big grand story like Stars Wars? I think the idea is there because of the great space themed adventure told through anime eyes but the aim of this anime is different. It’s a family themed movie that compliments a lot of anime’s great achievements, in my opinion. It has a dash of Hayao Miyazaki, a sprinkle of Osamu Tezuka and a bucket full of colorful and vivid imagination showered over the top. This movie is amazing. I honestly wasn’t expecting a lot from this show. The anime had kids and nature so my expectations were along the lines of the kids imagining they were in space. Who would’ve expected that they actually travelled space and got in some grand adventures along the way? This anime has a nice story to tell that is very complex yet expertly delivered while also giving you a lot of wonderful space scenes that captures the imagination in a delightful way. It had a childish whimsy while also staying true to its space theme that, I guess, was heavily inspired by Star Wars. The big thing setting this anime apart though is that it had this anime element called moe in it. It’s a space themed anime with moe. Need I say more?
This anime started out innocently enough. I’ve seen a few movies as TPAB so I kinda knew how these anime movies about nature would go down. They would have a slow start obviously introducing the characters and the status quo. The actual story begins at the thirty minute mark but you’ll be enthralled by the visuals in the meantime. The movie had a nice laidback vibe to it that I certainly appreciate. The first ten minutes of the anime featured the five kids getting ready for their summer vacation. They live in small town and they have a local school. It’s empty by that time and it appears that it’s their tradition to go to school during summer break. They stay there without any supervision. It’s pretty basic progression by then. It took a big right turn though when they met Pochi, the talking dog. There were different things that could’ve happened that I can honestly predict like a coming of age story with a talking dog or a Lilo and Stich kind of scenario. I never would’ve expected the five kids to travel to space though. One of them said that they wanted to travel far away and Pochi decided that they’ll travel to the moon. At the back of the moon that the Earth cannot see, there is a huge busy metropolis full of aliens and new things the kids cannot wait to experience and take it all in.
The story of this anime is really complex but it is pretty easy to understand. The pacing is a bit abrupt though in the beginning. The story isn’t really that amazing but I’ll get to that later. It is pretty deeply layered though. In Wikipedia, it states that the kids had “four” adventures and that’s really the reason why the pacing was a bit inconsistent. It had four different stories. I’ll call them chapters though but to be honest, I only counted three. Maybe you can figure out the fourth one. For the purpose of this review though, this anime had three different chapters. They all share some important details but they also had different small stories to focus on. The first chapter is when the kids travelled to the moon. I’ll try not to spoil a lot of details but it’s the typical story of the kids discovering the wonders of space and different alien beings. It’s pretty amazing and the kids really enjoyed their stay in the moon. Something terrible happened though and they were unable to get back to Earth. They all tried different ways to get back home while also discovering some new friends along the way. Keep in mind that this is pretty family friendly so nothing overly serious happen. The kids didn’t have that much worry over their current situation and pretty much just enjoyed their time in the moon. They learned of how to travel space, the currency of the moon and the different kinds of creatures inhabiting it. The kids also had their own little subplots explored during this time.
The second chapter is about the kids trying to go back to Earth by taking the super express line. The kids are now traveling the universe at this point. The viewers are treated to a wonderful display of the universe and the way the super express line darts through it. The experience really reminds me of Galaxy Railways minus the Space Opera. The kids are once again experiencing new things as they travel from planet to planet while they enjoy the view. They also meet some interesting people along the way as well but trouble sadly follow the group of friends as their journey gets interrupted by some people trying to steal their possessions. I personally love this chapter because of how colorful the universe was portrayed and certain scientific things that would’ve flown over my head were given amazing detail that really wakes up the child inside you. This rarely happen for me and, admittedly, only Hayao Miyazaki’s great style does that to me. Welcome to the Space Opera does that to me as well but without the Japanese mythological pretense. It’s replaced by intergalactic elements featured in colorful designs that’ll make a child want to hug it.
The third chapter is the build up to the climax and the introduction of the “Space Show”. In the previous chapters, it was just mentioned and the kids now experience the grand show up close. Space Show is like a super popular TV show shown all over the universe and, surprise, the kids is the main attractions. I love this chapter because all the dots are connected. All the things mentioned in the first two chapters and all the great characters they meet all come together in one big climax. Even the slightest things that you thought doesn’t matter are being reintroduced in the final chapter as it tries to give the anime a majestic ending it greatly deserves. I also admire how the overarching story of the anime, that feels impossible to feature in just two hours, was nicely capped off in the final chapter. I’ve seen movies with the same big story as this one that just fizzle over towards the end and leaving us disappointed. This show tried to overcome that challenge and succeed in a great way. It isn’t perfect though. Certain things lacked proper build up in the final chapter. Even though the dots were connected, certain things that were supposed to be explained got ignored so we’re seeing an epic showdown that didn’t have a proper build up. It was introduced in bits and pieces but never heavily focused by the anime. They’re just minor details though related to this chapter. You can just take the child approach to it and just be hypnotized by the bright colors rather than overthink the minor details though. It’s all good.
While the movie had three chapters, it does have an overall story that ties it all together. It had two plot points featured in the chapters and given a decent build up as the movie progresses. The first one is simply about the five kids travelling space. The main focus was the great abundance of awesome Sci Fi looking yet cute things you can see in space. It was overly leaning to the child centered ideal but that’s OK. Throughout the movie and all over the chapters, the kids were seeing space in a fun way and enjoying some great bonding moments as well.
The second plot point is about Pochi and his mission. He went to Earth to search for an already extinct plant that supposedly grows on Earth. He got attacked by some evil baddies while gathering information and then he met the kids. Throughout the movie, the evil baddies are after the kids because the special plant, that is highly valued in space, is coincidentally in the packed lunches of one of the group. They get involve in a lot of danger as they try to keep the special plant from falling into the wrong hands. As the anime progresses, the bad guys gets more daring and the ultimate mastermind is slowly revealed. This plot point gave the show the needed action but it was also a bit mishandled, in my opinion. The whole story leading up to the bad guys lacked the needed details to properly enjoy the events afterwards. Like I said, the awesome showdown didn’t really mean much but the bright colors can be hypnotizing.
The characters are pretty decent. Some of them nicely stood out while others who should’ve gotten a major role just stayed in the sidelines. Among the five groups of friends, I do believe they were given a decent focus and some fleshing out but everything really felt force. The focus wasn’t on them in the first place. It isn’t a story about the kids having a coming of age story sort of angle while they travel in space. They just travelled in space. While there are some subplots given to them to give them a decent role, it still isn’t enough because the main characters are really bland. I did enjoy the subplots to a degree though. If the main appeal of the anime was a child-like view of space full of wonderful imagination then you don’t really need great characters. Having great and impressionable main characters are what makes a movie complete though so this was a huge minus for the anime. Anyways, the characters are really defined by their subplot. There are the two sisters that got into an argument because of the pet rabbit. The problem was brought up a couple of times and the resolution to the conflict gave strength to the climactic ending. There is also this kid with glasses that enjoy reading about space. He befriends some aliens on his journey through space and this bond was pivotal to the final chapter of the anime. There is also the supposed leader of the pack that wants to be a doctor and the girl that wanted to become an idol. They have no subplot and I don’t really remember their names. The group vary in age and that’s all that I remember.
I do admire the child-like wonder of the cast. They aren’t fazed by most things because they are in blissful state as they travel in space. It helps a lot to really get into the movie. At some point, the story doesn’t really mean much because you’re ear to ear smiling at the visuals the anime keeps dropping at you. In fact, I was so involve in the space travelling that I saved a lot of screenshots of this movie without realizing it. As you watch, you really see the world through the eyes of the kids and I think that was a great aspect of the anime. A part of me wished the movie had some strong lead like maybe Chihiro from Spirited Away. Considering the complexity of the anime, I’m not surprised it has weak characters though.
The side characters don’t really mean much. They’re just there to be adorable or awesome looking. The other main character is Pochi though. He had potential to be a great character but it was mishandled. For the most part, he was a cute talking dog but he had moments of being a serious superhero thing and the combination of those personalities are so disjointed. He really just flowed with the story and it’s a shame considering how incredible his role was. He was the cool guy that had bad guys chasing him while hanging out with some innocent kids. The rest of the cast doesn’t mean much. They don’t stand out and they really just filled the roles that were needed in the anime. It needed some bad guys, alien friends and such. Their personality starts and ends there.
The anime certainly had some downsides but they’re so insignificant compared to the great strengths of the anime. The overall story is pretty good and the way it was handled was really incredible. I was honestly expecting it to fail but it didn’t. It was able to be entertaining through and through. I learned a long time ago that movies are supposed to give you a great cinematic experience. The story may be weak at times and the characters bland but if it can give you an awesome anime experience then it has done its job. I feel that Welcome to the Space Show nicely accomplished that. Now it’s time for me to go crazy describing the visuals of the anime.
Sight and Sound
The visuals are outstanding. I have to point this out first because it’s the one element of the movie that immediately grabs your attention. Actually, it’s the rather laidback visuals of the anime that catches your attention at first. It has a great Studio Ghibli style to it where the beauty of nature really emanates from every single scene of the anime. The great details and the way it was digitally rendered are really incredible. It has great simplicity while having the characters move around it freely. Things got intensely crazy though when the kids suddenly travelled to space. The whole scenery of the anime at this point really becomes unbelievable. There is great detail at almost every scene. The great mix of Sci Fi and some Cyberpunk without the depressing colors really made the visuals stand out. Instead of the depressing normal colors of black or grey, the scenery is covered with bright colors that pops and attracts your eyes. It’s not long before you see yourself slowly immersed in the world of the anime. The show really tries to impress at almost every scenic place it can feature. You can see the talented eye of the creators as they give life to the different places in the movie. The amount of featured places really does challenge the idea of Star Wars but it had a more kid friendly design for the most part. I love it though. Like I said before, it feels like Hayao Miyazaki and Osamu Tezuka got together and created this anime. From simple scenes to grand futuristic ones, the anime doesn’t disappoint on the visuals department.
Character design is pretty normal. The kids lean more to the cute side but they all stand out visually. They have a generic look to them but it’s still great for the movie. Aside from their outfits, the kids really just look simple though. They also mostly have simple drawn limbs and skin color but thankfully the animation does give them justice. Pochi was pretty great. He looked like a dog but when he stands on two legs, you can see he have this rugged feature to him and the thick brows were a nice touch. The aliens though are the ones that had the most details. The creatures in space are really imaginative. They share the non-threatening and kid friendly appeal of the anime. The aliens are either talking animals or they are some sort of cute monster. They can also be robot but they mostly look heavily influenced by Disney and Studio Ghibli characters but with really colorful designs. I personally like it because the aim of the movie was to awaken the child inside you, the characters does that. From humungous adorable talking cats to big rounded baby aliens to jellyfish like monsters with little hands, the anime really lets your imagination run wild and it does that pretty amazingly. These characters may look cute but I also love how they don’t have a kid friendly mascot-like personality. They mostly function to the flow of the story and they just happen to be super cute.
The animation is outstanding. The frame rate is pretty high and movements are really smooth. There are very specific details given to how characters move. From how they walk in zero gravity to how they reposition themselves while sleeping, the animation is very precise. The most standout moment, for me, was the Space Show scene where it had an awesome show down with two characters in complete armor beating each other senseless. I am also a fan of the water gun shooting scene. The great detail given to the space creatures of the movie was also a nice touch. I am a big fan of the space train they rode. It moves as if it is dancing in the sky and I just love how the creators were able to really hit hard in terms of animation.
The anime had no OP. The ED song is “Who I Was Born to Be” by Susan Boyle. Yup, Susan Boyle. You can tell the anime was meant for a more western audience if they give the tag line “grander than Star Wars” and then have Susan Boyle sing the theme song. This woman is really amazing. If you listened to her, you can just feel a great calm going through you. It’s incredible. The song is in English and it tells about a journey to being a better person. I think that was almost a theme of the anime. Susan Boyle’s voice is amazing though. I cannot believe I’ll be describing her voice in this blog. The accompanying instrumentals were also a nice touch but it was her strong powerful voice that really gave the song its great personality.
8/10 “It’s an amazing movie for the family that really captures your imagination and sends it to a colorful journey through space.”
This is a great anime that nicely captures the appeal of Studio Ghibli films but with a more aggressive style. The approach of combining the child-like wonders with a futuristic space story really has an endless possibility as greatly expressed by this anime. It’s an anime for all ages. If you enjoy family-themed movie then you’ll enjoy this one. If you love Studio Ghibli films then you should definitely try this one out. It’s not really a shameless rip off but one that really feels like it belongs there. I highly recommend it.