Review: Welcome to the Space Show

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<em>Welcome to the Space Show </em>is a film by A-1 Pictures released in 2010, and by far one of the oddest, yet heart-warming, science fiction anime I have seen in a while. It reunites the staff of <em>Read or Die TV</em> for a full-length feature film with nefarious villains, a mysterious extinct plant, and a lost planet. Primary school children &mdash; Natsuki, Amane, Kiyoshi, Noriko, Koji &mdash; are on summer vacation, and find an injured dog in the woods. After treating it&rsquo;s wounds, the dog reveals himself to be an alien(!) professor named Pochi researching an extinct plant. As a way to show his gratitude, he offers to take them on a trip to the furthest place that humans have been to, which in this case, is the moon. What is revealed is that there is a giant city on the other side of the moon that can&rsquo;t be seen from Earth. A series of events leads to Earth being closed off from space travel, and the gang has to work together to take a longer, less direct route to make it back in time before the parents notice.</p>

While the introduction of the story starts out in the countryside, the story soon turns completely weird in terms of character designs, though all of the alien characters are well-written and are entertaining. One of the main themes of the movie is friendship, as members of the group, while not necessarily bonded together by blood, have a well-balanced relationship with one another. Some of the earlier conflicts, especially between the cousins Amane and Natsuki, are dealt with organically in the narrative through their adventures to defeat an alien threat and find a way home. They could almost be mistaken for a family, as they have a very interesting dynamic between them with their distinctive personalities. Between all of them, the kids change over the course of the film, whether it’s figuring out what career path they might take, how to properly apologize for a past mistake, or just being a little bit more confident.

One of the sequences I enjoyed was the final fight between Pochi and Neppo, where both don suits that enable them to be stronger and faster. The dialogue never quite feels like it’s hanging. After all, the finale even takes place on a galactic television show called The Space Show.

Welcome to the Space Show is a movie about bonds and is just plain fun. The weird factor is digestible if you can handle the alien architecture and creature designs. There isn’t a moment that felt boring in the series, and all of the flaws and differences in how different actions play out are very apparent and clear cut. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like this; even if some of the narrative aspects feel familiar, they’re formatted with a fresh take — a kind of mellow, yet enchanting and energetic, adventure for kids and adults alike to enjoy.