Title: Welcome to The SPACE SHOW
Director: Koji Masunari
Screenplay: Hideyuki Kurata
Main voice Actors (Japanese): Tomoyo Kurosawa, Honoka Ikezuka, Shoutarou Uzawa, Tamaki Matsumoto
Main voice Actors (English): Stephanie Sheh, Michaela Dean, Michael Sinterniklaas, Cassandra Lee
Music: Yoshihiro Ike
Film editor: Masahiro Goto
Production company: A-1 Pictures Inc.
Distributor: Aniplex Inc.
There is a very small elementary school in a rural area. The number of students is only five. They have a camp at the school with only children during their summer holidays. On the first day of the camp, they meet an injured animal, which looks like a dog but it can speak their language. It turns out that he is an alien from Planet One. This encounter leads them to an adventure to space. Children have various experiences and adventures throughout this journey.
Story being free from a stereotypical genre
Beauty of setting
This animation beautifully combines daily life in Japan, science fiction and fantasy adventure. It is not set in the far away future, and story does not start in an explicit fantasy world nor a Sci-Fi world. In the first 20 minutes of the film, the story goes on with beautiful country-side scenes of modern Japanese society where characters spend normal peaceful summer holidays (Trailer: AniplexUS shares the first 20 minutes of the film as a trailer specially). I think that this makes the audience feel that the characters and the story have some reality and connections to our current world.
The main characters are curious and free from stereotypes as they are still children. They are flexible enough to accept the Sci-Fi world without questioning it as the new world suddenly appears in front of them. They simply accept the world as the extension of their daily lives and naturally dive into the adventure ahead of them without losing who they are. I analysed that these things would give audience an effect to synchronise the characters’ excitement of encounter to the new world. I got similar impression when I watched films like E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (2001) . We can be excited about the advancement of technology and the exploration of a space world through the eyes of the main children characters. Story takes place by centering these children and their friendship with creatures in the outer space and we learn the importance of learning, peace and endeavour through their experiences.
A good escape from daily life
This animation can take me to the different world but not in a hard way. It almost feels like you go to Walt Disney World Resort® or Universal Orlando® Resort to immerse yourself to the different world thanks to its great visual images (Picture 1 and 2).
Good story telling techniques to attract the adult audience
This animation is wonderful as it can be enjoyed not only by children but also by teens or older audience because there is no exaggeration of characters’ conversation and action which could lead adults to feel like “oh! it’s for children”. I felt that the main child characters are mature enough to think and act based on their values from their daily lives even when they enter the adventures that are open to them. This good combination of daily life and adventure gives us closeness to the characters and prevents us from thinking that the story takes place in a totally different and unreal world and that the story is unrelated to us. We can attach to the characters because they act like us and are honest to who they are. I think that this kind of story telling technique may help us think how we can create animation work which could entertain adults as well as children without making people feel like it is too geeky, or that it is only for children. This work is full of fun and dreamlike tools and designs. I see that these points are also an attractive part that you can enjoy by watching this animation.
Attractive points for children
The main characters have opportunities to experience work among adults. Children can try to do part time jobs with adults following their own characteristics, personalities, preferences and curiosity. I believe that the scenes where children can work just like adults would give young viewers some excitement of being an adult and can give the idea of a bright future for them (Picture 3).
Brilliant 2D animation techniques and designs
I want to recommend to check some good actions made by Japanese style 2D animation. Firstly, smokes and explosion scenes in this film are brilliantly animated. There were some animators who are specialists for this kind of effect in the credits shown at the end of this film like Takashi Hashimoto, who is recognised as a genius animator for animating these action scenes. A car chase scene is also well expressed with the speed and it is adds an attractive point (Picture 4).
Designs of scenery, architecture and vehicles in various stars in the outer space is also interesting points to see. The landscape on Planet One resembles the hillside landscape in England. You have rains, strong winds and beautiful sunsets in Planet One as we see on Earth. All these description of nature and landscape succeed in making us feel close to the space world and it almost makes us feel like we are just visiting one good neighbour although we are actually visiting an alien’s house (Picture 5).
Wonderful themes and messages
Accepting diversity naturally
Main characters can get along quickly with various aliens in all sorts of shapes and colours without caring about these differences (Picture 6). They are just simply open and accept the differences and act as usual. This is enjoyable to watch.
Encounter and departure
Although it is a short term stay on the Moon, each child character could have wonderful encounters there. The departure scene to Planet One is superb as you can share the emotions of each character and their growth.
Friendship among the characters
The animation focuses on the relationship amongst characters and how they react to each other. It shows how small things could lead to miscommunications but the tolerance and forgiveness, talking honestly to each other, simply helps to unite friends.
Quotations- memorable lines I picked up-
“The reason why a hero is strong is because he/she has courage. Admitting a mistake as a mistake is a respectable courage”.
“One for all, all for one”.
This animation reminds us the importance and preciousness of having empathies and compassion to others and working together for happiness.
1: Welcome to the Space Show. (2011). Animated Film. Directed by Koji Masunari. [Blu-ray] Japan: Aniplex Inc.
2: Welcome to the Space Show official website (2015) The world of Welcome to the Space Show. [Online] Available from:<http://www.uchushow.net>. [1 October 2015].
3: AniplexUS official YouTube channel (2015) Welcome to THE SPACE SHOW -the longest movie trailer you’ve ever seen- (2010). [Online] Available from:<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pTfqcx8LMHs>. [1 October 2015].