A tiny mountain village in a remote woodland region. Five primary school kids have come together in this idyllic spot in order to spend their summer holidays at a camp. At first the children enjoy carefree days amidst unspoiled nature far away from adult supervision. But their life changes dramatically when they come across what they believe to be a small dog, badly in need of help. The creature – known as Pochi – turns out not to be a dog at all but an alien on an important mission.
It seems there is a mysterious substance on earth that is coveted throughout the universe. Pochi had almost found it but was so badly injured during a fight that he had to give up his search. Thanks to the children's help, the alien survives – and decides to reward them generously. “Where would you most like to travel?” is the question Pochi puts to his rescuers. Their answer is prompt, if vague:
“As far as possible!” Pochi suggests they try the moon first of all, and so, the alien whisks away the kids to the satellite next door. This marks the beginning of an absolutely amazing adventure.
During the course of their travels they discover that the substance coveted throughout the universe is in fact also integral to Japanese cuisine – and it just so happens that one of the kids has some of this mysterious substance in his pocket.
Leave any child unattended for a length of time and they will undoubtedly find themselves in some sort of mischief, even if they weren't looking to get into trouble, and all world weary parents, teachers and carers will attest to this as truth. The main reason for it is because kids are naturally curious individuals (when you're young the universe tends to be a fascinating place), and are more willing to accept as fact things that many adults would find preposterous, ridiculous, or just plain crazy.
The irony is that while the "mature" population of the world will often scoff or smile condescendingly at children's tales of visits to strange worlds, encounters with weird creatures, travels on spaceships, fights with monsters, and other such flights of fancy, that doesn't stop adults from creating stories about children in exactly those situations.
Uchuu Show e Youkoso (Welcome To The Space Show), is simply the latest in the long tradition of adults stealing ideas off kids.
The movie follows the adventures of a group of children from a rural Japanese village who are attending an unsupervised week long summer camp in the local school building. During the first day they decide to search for a missing pet rabbit, but what they find are crop circles and an injured dog ...
Cue the madness.
The storyline is a rather interesting take on the whole idea of alien encounters, but there is a degree of predictability to proceedings due to the rather simplistic nature of the plot. That said, given that the movie is billed as family entertainment, it's nice to see that efforts have been made to make the whole thing more appealing to adults and children alike. Part of this is reflected in the visuals and audio, but the lion's share of focus undoubtedly falls on the story itself, so it's unfortunate that this is also the area where matters become somewhat ... confusing.
Too much effort can sometimes be a bad thing, and that seems to be the main problem with Welcome To The Space Show as it simply tries too hard to be everything to everyone. Unfortunately this is very much at odds with the simplicity of the plot, and the result is a tale that lacks the finesse of rival features. In addition to this there are a number of themes "borrowed" from other stories, and while plagiarism may be the first form of flattery, moderation is the word that director Masunari Koji and screenplay writer Kurata Hideyuki seem to have forgotten.
Now many people will automatically draw comparisons between Welcome To The Space Show and certain other anime movies, in particular Spirited Away, Galaxy Express 999 , My Neighbour Totoro (they find a strange friendly creature in the forest), and Oblivion Island, Production I.G.s 3D feature from 2009, and that's just from the East. There are also themes taken from the novel Five Children & It by Edith Nesbit (which was adapted into a live action movie in 2004), The Chronicles of Narnia, and the 1985 movie The Explorers. This rather dizzying array of influences initially looks like a disaster waiting to happen, so it's surprising that this narrative cacophony is not only understandable, but also entertaining.
When it comes to the looks though, this movie seems to shift into a higher gear.
Welcome To The Space Show is a creatively visual feast that, like Oblivion Island, easily surpasses Spirited Away when it comes to imaginative design. The opening sequence is simply a taste of things to come, and A-1 Pictures have put a great deal of thought into bringing home the idea that the children really have gone to another world. This is partly achieved through the use of bright, vivid, and sometimes clashing colour schemes that impart a slightly unearthly quality to a good portion of the movie. When this is coupled with some very creative character and feature designs the sense of not being in Kansas anymore really does come to the fore. The scenery is especially noteworthy for its detail and quality, and viewers may find themselves simply admiring the picturesque vistas from time to time. There's also a nice combination of static and layered backgrounds that add a degree of depth and character to certain scenes.
Unfortunately it's not all sweetness and light. Although Ishihama Masashi's designs are highly imaginative, consistency seems to be the problem as the quality of the visuals tends to drop from time to time, and there are occasions where the characters look more like animated cave paintings rather than defined figures. There are also a few scenes that the film could have done without as they serve no real purpose, as well as a few issues with the animation itself. While the majority of the movie features crisp, fluid movements and sequences, the drops in the quality of the visuals tend to be accompanied by actions that are almost stop motion.
Which, strangely enough, leads me on to Susan Boyle.
It's a very strange world that we live in, and one of the things that many people would probably rank as highly unlikely (if not nigh on impossible), is for a song by the "star" of Britain's Got Talent to be used as a theme tune to an anime. Truth is always stranger than fiction though, and thus her song Who I Was Born To Be is the featured track for Welcome To The Space Show. That said, she's actually no stranger to Japanese movies as the song that shot her to fame, I Dreamed A Dream from the hit musical Les Miserables, has also been used as the theme tune for the third Eagle Talon film (an animated flash movie that's the brainchild of Asahi TV's late night host, Frogman).
As for the rest of the noise, there are a variety of tracks on offer that range from dramatic classical pieces to ditties played on a banjo, as well as some very good audio effects that are often very crisp and clean. Unfortunately, Welcome To The Space Show suffers from a problem that plagues many other anime out there, and that is its choreography, or more specifically, its timing. The majority of the movie is actually very good in this department, but there are several occasions where something happens on screen a split second before the viewer hears it.
The most surprising thing about this film is Aniplex's decision to cast a group of relatively unknown 11 to 14 year olds in each of the child roles, and while the idea isn't new in anime (Ghibli have done it before), it's a gamble that pays off as only children can really act like children. The rest of the cast is made up of experienced seiyuu who play their parts quite well, but this movie is about kids having an adventure, and they really do steal the show thanks to some clever scripting and a sense that their characters really are inquisitive, curious, and pretty much everything one would expect a child to be.
Now given that this is a family movie there is bound to be some drama that forces the characters to learn and grow. The only problem is that rather than having one or two occurrences of these events, Welcome To The Space Show tries to throw too much into the mix. The movie can basically be broken up into four parts, and in each section the children are put in situations where they must learn certain lessons in order to carry on (the importance of work, looking out for one another, etc). The development verges on the formulaic for the most part, and any possible natural progression is hampered by the fact that the main theme for that section of the story never really reaches a conclusion. Instead it simply gets smothered by the next plot thread, or simply peters out, and this can leave the viewer trying to work out how the children got from A to B.
That said, the visuals do detract from the stolid, check box approach to character development, and while the storyline may contain far too many different influences and events, the obvious enthusiasm with which the child seiyuu approach the script offers some genuinely fun moments.
Welcome To The Space Show is a flawed creation that attempts to take on the might of Ghibli, and while there are areas where it clearly falls flat on its face, there are also parts that really are brilliant. The movie is slightly more tongue in cheek than one might expect, but at the same time possesses an edge to it that sets it apart from the somewhat saccharine nature of family entertainment. All of the flaws in the film can be forgiven on the basis of one fact - it's one of the more imaginative and creative anime movies to appear in the last few years. Yes, it "borrows" heavily from numerous influences, and yes, there are issues in almost every department, but it also takes the viewer on an adventure to strange and fascinating new worlds, and this aspect is probably the most understated thing in the movie.
After all, one should never underestimate the power of a good adventure story, and it's actually pretty easy to disregard the problems with Welcome To The Space Show. While an examination of the individual characteristics will highlight quite a few issues, this is one of those rare occasions where the whole really is greater than the sum of its parts. The movie may not be as slick a production as Summer Wars, Oblivion Island, or any of the Ghibli affairs, but even with that handicap it manages to convey a sense of discovery and wonderment, and when all the plusses are added together it's pretty easy to see why I enjoyed this film.
And before you ask, no, the movie isn't a glorified advert for wasabi.read more
Space: the final frontier. Not many get to experience being in space or even know much about it, but many people dream. For these 5 kids, it's a real adventure. Uchuu Show e Youkoso, or Welcome to the Space Show in English, is one big adventure in space, trying to get back home. We see how much the kids are willing to do and learn to get back home in time.
The story starts in rural Japan, during summer vacation where 5 kids go to camp for a week... with no adult supervision of any kind? Okay. Everything is normal until they find an injured "dog" whom they healed, but it turns out he's an alien and takes them on an adventure which involves a space show (duh), drugs (kinda) and an evil plot. I'll keep it at that to try an be as spoiler free as possible. The story's okay and quite simple. Right for kids. I like science-fiction and out-of-this-world things, but some stuff don't make sense, like why is everyone on Earth an idiot by not realizing that there's a huge city on the moon? They did mention that Earth isn't part of the Space Federation, so they probably kept it a secret. But why didn't Earth join the federation then? I know it's just a kid's movie so they keep it simple, but it would have been nice to know. About the simplicity, they keep every name simple. Space Federation, Space show, space this, space that, etc. It's like the entirety of the universe is all connected and earth, for some reason, is out of this, which makes me more curious about this. One last major complaint I have about this is that the ending is very anti-climactic. I'm not going to spoil anything, but it was very boring compared to the rest of the action in the movie. The story is simple, great for kids, but adults feel wanting more, you know, story. It relied to much on visuals and pretty colors.
Art: I loved the art, which is probably the movie's strongest point. The animation, like in most movies, is very nice through out. The art in this movie reminds me a lot of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (for the Village scenes) and Summer Wars (for the Space scenes). The village has a very calm feel to it, like it should, but it's the space scenes that are extremely nice. Many different colors and designs to keep any kid's attention. Space itself looked great as well. My one qualm with this is that some of the designs feel generic. I wanted to be more wowed by weird designs of the ships, buildings, etc. but it disappointed. Still, the art is very good nonetheless.
Sound: The sound and music is great as well. The music fits nicely and they know when to use silence as well. There wasn't a song that stuck out to me as amazing, but that doesn't matter. The voice acting does it's job well. Thta's about all I have to say.
Characters: This is probably the movies biggest downfall. The characters are boring paper cutouts. We have the strong heroine, the little sister, the perfect helpful guy, the nerdy guy, and the helpless girl. It's a real shame because I liked a lot of the supporting characters. I liked Boga, Kool-aid Tony, Ink, and even Neppo. I would have really liked to see more of the bad guys and learn about their backgrounds, which is never really clearly explained. The robot at the end gets barely anytime at all and comes out of no where. Oh well.
All in all, this movie isn't really that bad. It's a very nice adventure through space, learning about what really goes on out there. This is more of a visual/auditory experience because of the simplistic characters and story. "Welcome to the Space Show" is a very accurate title.read more
Don't you just love modern day cinema? I'm starting to think after just 4-6 months of honest, studious, observation towards recent made movies really only do nothing more than illustrate the effectiveness that preexisting movies have.
Something like this movie appears to be (from an average American fan) just to be another high-grade, beautifully drawn movie... and that is it.
The greatest compliment I can give to this movie is that if you're trying to take your tasting developing into your own hands, you'll trust yourself more when you can readily see Welcome to the Space Show nothing more than my previous description.
And not just nothing more, but also something less!
The movie starts with characters that don't moe-ify the hell right outta them; at least it has the integrity to acknowledge that it IS a movie for kids.
It even pulls the usual stops:
1. Lays out a cast of stereotypes; an earnest do-gooder, a not-so-prissy, a not-so-in-your-face nerd, a somewhat mature toddler, and a stupid older girl.
2. Makes things convenient by keeping parents outta the picture... well outta the story.
3. Makes the story seem pretty obvious about it's intentions when it creates conflict BEFORE the tale takes place.
4. Sets up a cosmological galactic system that both makes their guiding alien seem more honest and naturally kind, and allows room for this alien to show some spirit.
And these are only the things that are established within it's first quarter.
Many might assume that by getting a lot of baggage out of the way earlier, that the film will show that it aspires more than just being a "space show".
But no; these characters have no real life about them. I can't even remember anyone's name. That's bad on numerous levels in of itself since this is a movie... that's an unusual 2.15 hours long!
I guess you could find the "stupid older girl" and her friendship with the "mature toddler" to be the only breath in this slow, airless, vacuum, but the movie stretches this with the following:
1. Their guiding alien's place with the world (and this is done with mere noddings to frequently seen [but not much else more involved] characters)
2. An EXTREMELY retarded overall plotting having to do with... wasabi (more on this later...)
3. The main character's (and the audience's) frolicking with their surroundings.
On these three notes, only #3 makes you wince with accepting it's passing efforts.
Gearing this lengthy movie would be the "why are you still around?" studio, A1 Pictures.
This single movie shows more of their knack of superior background art/animation than any other of their achievements; second only to their own Night Raid production.
Their handlings of character animation/rendering must be a cockroach of a bug to be as invested into their productions that ranges from Birdy the Mighty all the way to Fractale.
But, if you wanted a ride through space, there's something always happening with this straightforward peaceful intergalactic civilization. A mall-like candy store, an interestingly conceived parade, some friendly looking aliens based on animals that children might see commonly (although dogs might be the favorite in this writer's opinion...).
They don't show much mechanical designing that rivals the BG visuals, but when the movie doesn't dazzle it just feels "meh"; want interesting science designs that move and amaze? Watch anything that has Shoji Kawamori in the head.
This movie does offer kids some things that you don't get to witness too easily like supernovas, rocket assembly, and how to care for foreign creatures.
Musical wise, they picked someone whose topical, demographic talents range from Sonic X, to Ergo Proxy.
When it comes to hammy scores-something that might be necessary when trying to enrich a group of tweens traveling to places NO other people will see-the most we get out are a couple of tenseless, harmless tunes invoking further proof that the age rating of this movie is lower than any character within it... except this one alien that the nerd kid befriends; this movie looks like it'd blow the socks (or whatever it used...) off.
But that's it right there: there's so much effort trying to make this movie as harmless as possible, that all that remains are colors. Lotsa colors.
I'm quite curious as how Tiger and Bunny is with someone as laid back as this guy literally pulling the strings.
The idea to have a science-fiction story revolve around a human simplicity like this one, generally do it because they want to scale the worth of that problem into perspective; either to show how large it compares... or how totally stupid it is.
However, this movie lazily fuses its story about how aliens perceive wasabi (and even then, they keep its effects to the public vague... for "obvious" reasons!) and rarely considers the involvement of anyone or how they might alter everything.
They manage to connect some dots by including their alien guardian into the whole wasabi plot, but what's really more important to the target audience?! What happens to kids that are like them, or weird creatures fighting over a spice the target audience probably doesn't like?!
Many might take this otherworldly journey and use it to help explore these tiny children, or their parents' sentiments might have a larger play into the actions the children do; that'd be more believable than aliens thinking of wasabi as "another item that looks like a 'weed"!
Two words to compile everything here: Too. Simplistic.
But is this excuse for a movie fun? No, not really... because why should we care???
If I wanted pretty colors, I'd watch something that used colors to add to a "sum greater than it's parts"; Space Show's visuals alone are better than the movie altogether...
Perhaps they should've researched more into achieving individuality while still borrowing like Despicable Me or Rango. The nerd kid mentioning the similarity to Close Encounters of the Third Kind might be enough for the 3+ watchers (who might not understand or even have WATCHED the film!) but it won't be for those watching...
I review this movie simply because I lack the ability to review a movie that truly deserves recognition and criticism, Summer Days with Coo.
Welcome to the Space Show demonstrates the anime industry having more problems than just letting moe fanatics rule; they still need to get back to the basics of Storytelling 101.
If only having prettiness worked for everything... even children's movies...
+ ...you couldn't imagine a kids movie about a colorful journey through peaceful outer space...
- ...being as boring, unimaginative, meaningless, and stupid as this...read more
I loved this movie. It reminded me of a Miyazaki Film.
The story is really fun. It's enjoyable for all ages. mostly comedic with action and emotional times stirred in. It makes for a great ride.
The characters are your basic mix for an adventure story. You have the older responsible one, bookworm, cute kid, girly girl, and engergetic character. Even though we've all seen these character types before they each have their own unique feel to them as the develop.
Art is Great hands down, only complaint any one could have is when they fly over the moon.
As i said i abosolutly loved this film, it should get picked up in theaters. It just might be a little long for younger kids at 2 1/2 hours roughlyread more