Space has always been on the list of challenges for man, a seemingly infinite plateau of cosmic science that even the most advanced scientists are still struggling to find answers too. With the first rocket launches all the way through to the international space station, we are still light-years away from conquering this dark and secretive place.
The joy of this unknown is the wonderful curiosity we find in our imaginations to speculate the ‘what ifs’ of space that lend itself so well to fictional story telling.
Welcome To The Space Show opens with a furious yet beautiful chase between alien life forms, already wetting the palette with some amazing effects and colours, in combat over a substance know as ‘zughan’. After all the commotion disperses, we meet our little group, whom are all on their way to summer camp. Whilst searching for Amane’s pet rabbit, Pyon-kichi, which her elder cousin Natsuki has let escape, our group, lead by the eldestKiyoshi, including Noriko, a quiet but morally strong character and Koji, an enthusiastic young boy, come a cross a crop circle, uncovering a hurt little dog and decide to bring him back and nurse him to health.
The little dog the reveals himself to be called Pochi and is actually a canine-esq alien from a planet millions of miles from Earth, and has been on this planet researching the once thought extinct plant ‘zughan’. To thank his little saviours, he gives them a little trip to the moon to where this show really begins to open its imagination. The opening scenes in rural Japan really are quite beautiful, and there is a strong bow to the Studio Ghibli animators in the style and poise of the colours and characters, especially the lush backgrounds. However, the (sadly sparse) fight scenes and the tapestry of space is truly its own and create a juxtaposition between the warmth of Earth and the bizarre of space nicely.
The story on the other hand, I did find a little confusing and at points, whether it be to the lush visuals and I just wasn’t paying attention, I became very lost as to what actually was going on.
A large chunk of the story just feels like filler and this movie being a hefty 2 hours 20 mins ish, I feel isn’t truly needed, or could of been utilised a little better. There is one particular scene I found rather strange and unrealistic, where very brief engagements between aliens and our entourage are ended in a rather deep and emotion parting that I just couldn’t grasp, as there wasn’t enough time spent on building those relationships and that the director almost tried the same thing with each of the five main characters and somewhat exhausted this idea. Towards the end of the film, it just about claws back into familiar territory and we can deduce the out come and put to rest the questions left by some shady plot holes earlier on. Not that the ending really brings any sort of satisfaction.
Also, this show made me quite nervous for some reason, and I was constantly worried that each action our little friends took, would have negative consequences. That may be down to something else, but it was there nether the less.
But on its saving graces, Space Show, has rewritten the book on how to dub a movie. The dubbing is sublime and each character’s voice is their own, and having real children play children adds a beautiful realism to the show and really heightens the emotion when that character is hurt or scared. Even the foley is amazing and a great, well fitted sound track to boot gives the sound teams on this movie another great trophy in their cabinets.
Space Show isn’t going to rewrite story telling, and I think some of the plots turns weren’t properly set out or resolved, but it did promise to be and incredible beauty, and my, was it! There are colours in this anmie I didn’t know where on the chart, and the smoke and water effects baffle me. The plot issues can be just about overlooked and surely after a couple of re-watches, everything will become clear. Even if it doesn’t, it is still so worth it, just for another look at the clarity and smoothness of the animation. A truly beautiful treat.
Welcome To The Space Show is available on DVD and as a DVD/Blu-Ray combo pack now from Manga Entertainment.
– Jimi Hart