Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Welcome to the Space Show

Ucho sho e yokoso; animated science-fiction, Japan, 2010; D: Koji Masunari, S: Tomoyo Kurosawa, Honoka Ikezuka

During a summer vacation, five children - Natsuki, Amane, Kiyoshi, Noriko and Koji - find an injured white dog on a corn field, Pochi, who turns out to be a talking alien from planet Wan. As a reward, he takes them to the moon and then to another, alien planet for a vacation. However, the conditions for entering Earth have been aggravated, so Pochi has to circumvent it by bringing them on a journey through the galaxy to Wan, and then back. One of them, Amane, is kidnapped by Neppo, a host of the popular "Space Show", because he hopes to use her wasabi root to rule the Universe. Pochi stops him and returns the kids back to Earth.

"Galaxy Express 999" meets "Spirited Away" - Koji Masunari's weird anime science-fiction comedy adventure collected critical acclaim and is a moderately fun film that is rich with opulent colors and special effects, even though its story - especially chaotic towards the end - cannot follow the high level achieved on the field of animation. "Welcome to the Space Show" offers a good entertainment, but, as with several modern animes, its characters lack that immediate seal of uniqueness which makes some of them less distinguishable (for instance, Noriko seems more like a bland extra than a fully recognizable personality) and thus one cannot engage in their adventures to the fullest, whereas some of the designs of aliens is truly a bizarre patchwork (giant pink rodent, for instance). Considering that the story is more leaned towards a harmless, naive fun, it is a original space travel flick that seizes attention due to its style, whereas it also gives a small messages about everyone having to learn for themselves instead of someone giving everything to them.



Christopher Sobieniak said...

I recall hearing a podcast review of this film a year or so ago where the guys felt the film took a little too long setting itself up and didn't quite deliver fully what it was bound to, though I hope the studio behind this film learn from it and go on to more interesting projects in the future.

Marin Mandir said...

It was good enough, I just felt it went more into fantasy than science-fiction. Also, at least three out of five main characters were not that well developed. Maybe they deliberately wanted to make them shy and unobtrusive, but that's just the impression I am stuck with.

Anyway, I am interested in what the director is going to do next. He also directed R.O.D. and Azumanga Daoih.

Christopher Sobieniak said...

This was the podcast I was talking about BTW. (funny I can still recall these things)

They pretty sighted more should've been done with Kiyoshi and Noriko in the film since both pretty much had zero time for any development (Kiyoshi in particular since he could pass off as a titular protagonist in most anime).