Welcome to the Space Show is about a group of children who meet an alien dog while at summer camp and travel across the universe, smuggling wasabi to fund their travels.
If that sounds silly, it’s because it is: still, the movie comes together surprisingly well. It’s action-packed and doesn’t leave time to be bored. There’s something for everyone: action scenes, some light comedy, creative new worlds and some drama. This movie is targeted for families and children, so it’s not my usual cup of tea, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.
The movie’s strongest points are its fantastic setting and gorgeous animation. The setting here is very creative: there’s a huge variety of interesting kinds of aliens. Many of these only show up in the background, and it looks like the creators put effort even into them. The children travel to multiple planets, and each has its own idiosyncrasies. They have to go through customs and acquire a passport to travel in space. They travel on a faster than light caterpillar train where furniture grows out of the walls. In general, there’s just a tremendous attention to detail in the setting.
And this attention to detail is brought out by the animation. The backgrounds are beautiful, drawn in tremendous detail, whether they’re showing Earth, another planet, the inside of a ship or the dark side of the moon. But the strongest point is that there’s a fluidity to the animation: everything is in motion. Exotic aliens walk past in the background, lights flash, vehicles drive by. There’s just so much going on in every scene, that the world feels full and chaotic. It isn’t just the main characters out there. I wasn’t surprised to discover that the production team was also responsible for Kamichu, and this is the movie budget version of that same style, which was great even in a TV show.
Welcome to the Space Show’s biggest weakness is its villains. Their motivations never make much sense. At the end (spoiler alert) their goal turns out to be to acquire the wasabi as fuel for the “Pet King” to combine the little sister and the bunny rabbit into a new artificial being. But this is wrong because only the strong should survive. I’m not sure this is the best message to be teaching kids.
On a side note, this movie motivated me to look up wasabi on wikipedia. I didn’t know this, but apparently it’s really hard to grow, so much so that in the West what we call wasabi is usually a mixture of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring. I love the fake wasabi, so now I really want to try the actual thing. I guess the difficulty of growing wasabi is why it became extinct in the rest of the universe.
- Plot / Script – 8 / 10 – A fun adventure story, with an excellent setting.
- Characters – 8 / 10 – The main characters are solid, but the villains are weak.
- Production – 10 / 10 – Great visuals and attention to detail.
- Overall – B
Recommendations – Kamichu, Summer Wars, Spirited Away