I give this adorable anime movie a 90/100!
For those of you who don't know and those who think this might be a Miyazaki movie, this movie is produced by A-1 Pictures, a company well known for series such as Big Windup, Kuroshitsuji, Valkyria Chronicles, and the three animes that aired on the Anime no Chikara timeslot (which kicked the bucket). But in mid or late 2010, they produced this anime movie, Welcome To The Space Show. I have no idea why they did this or how (and why the heck they had Susan Boyle of all people sing the ending theme for this), but they sure did a heck of a good job in making this come alive!...and I sure am glad I saw this movie!
So basically five young kids decide to spend a week or so at a self-run camp at their school, totally all by themselves in order to induce a sense of responsibility, trust, and teamwork (though this is rather hard for two kids in particular as they got in a fight regarding a lost rabbit named Pyon-Kichi). One day, one of the kids finds an injured dog and they nurse it back to health. But the dog, whose name is Pochi Rickman, is actually an alien scientist who's studying plants and searching for a species of plant long believed to be extinct. To thank them for saving him, he takes them to the moon, where they're exposed to all kinds of new sights and wonders, piquing their curiosity and overstimulating their excitement to high levels. But before they know it, the gates to Earth get closed and the kids have to get back to Earth before summer break ends or else their parents will worry. But they're not the only ones put in a bad situation.
Yeah yeah, cliche premise, kids get taken to world they never seen before and meet monsters, yada yada yada. Digimon-esque, I know. The premise isn't exactly new, but I don't think this is why the movie was made. Plus you have to admit the movie does tackle a bit too many stories at once. Kids seeing the moon, being trapped on the moon, watch the space show, aliens hunt down Pochi, etc. The end may be a bit overkill for some people, but I for one really liked it. Yeah, it's a kids anime after all so it does have the cliches that most kids movies have. But durn is it an awesomely executed one!
The animation...yeah. Just GUESS what I'm gonna say. The animation here is one of the BEST I've seen in movies for a VERY long time. Colors are lively and vibrant, characters move fluently and realistically, there's lots of facial expressions that are well animated, fight scenes are well choreographed, jeez! There has to be a limit to how much colors and brightness should be used in a movie. Sure the graphics and visuals MIGHT give people seizures (maybe to a Gankutsuou degree), but you have to admit, this movie has amazingly top-tier animation that not even Kyoto Animation can top. A-1 Pictures really seems to be getting a following. I have NO idea where the heck they get funding and budgets from, but they seem to have bottomless buckets of it (if they weren't wasted on Blue Exorcist and Fairy Tail, of course). This has to be one of the best animated things I've seen from them (RIIIIIGHT next to AnoHana). I think the animation is why this movie is made. It's striking, that's for sure!
The characters in this movie, despite being kids, are very likeable. The staff really knows that they're dealing with children in this movie, and made sure to make them look, (don't expect to see any purple haired, big boobed characters in here unless you like anthropomorphized aliens like that) act, and sound like normal, realistic children (one of my favorite child seiyuus is in the cast! Matsumoto Tamaki! YEAH!!!). Natsuki and Noriko were my favorites. Although the movie itself has a plot, it focuses more on the adventures on the moon that the children have, like getting jobs and seeing aliens and all that fun stuff! Sure the characters personalities are kinda cliche (leader, smart guy, shy girl, etc.), but they all have sides to them that really shine near the end of the movie, and boy do they shine! Plus Pochi and the other aliens were awesome too, even though I would've liked more backstory on him and his enemies.
As much as I'd like to continue glorifying this movie, as a critic, I HAVE to acknowledge the fact that it has it's flaws. One big flaw is that it does tend to tie too many plots together into one. Normally I don't have a problem with this so I'll let it slide. There isn't much character development, even in a two hour movie like this one. Like I mentioned before, I wish there was more explanation as to why Pochi and the villains hate each other. Sometimes it doesn't really make sense. But nonetheless, I enjoyed this movie immensely.
All in all, Welcome To The Space Show is a cute and colorful anime movie which you can show to anyone who's new to anime! I can't wait until it comes out on DVD! I'm definitely using this movie to convert people to the anime side!