A tiny mountain village in a remote woodland region. Five primary school kids have come together in this idyllic spot in order to spend their summer holidays at a camp. At first the children enjoy carefree days amidst unspoiled nature far away from adult supervision. But their life changes dramatically when they come across what they believe to be a small dog, badly in need of help. The creature – known as Pochi – turns out not to be a dog at all but an alien on an important mission. It seems there is a mysterious substance on earth that is coveted throughout the universe. Pochi had almost found it but was so badly injured during a fight that he had to give up his search. Thanks to the children’s help, the alien survives – and decides to reward them generously. “Where would you most like to travel?” is the question Pochi puts to his rescuers. Their answer is prompt, if vague: “As far as possible!” Pochi suggests they try the moon first of all, and so, the alien whisks away the kids to…
Berlin Film Festival site
User Reviews: Version I saw: (subtitled) UK DVD release (projected) Actors: 6/10 Plot/script: 6/10 Photography/visual style: 7/10 Music/score: 6/10 Overall: 7/10 Welcome to the Space Show is a Japanese anime movie. Although (despite what some ignorant people will tell you) there are many such works which are targeted at an adult audience, with deep characterization, complex themes and the like, WttSS is most definitely a kids’ film. It evokes Japanese classics like My Neighbour Totoro and Galaxy Express 999, as well as American fare such as ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Wars and The Goonies. You may note that these are all from the 70s and 80s, and indeed, it does seem to represent a bygone era of innocence, when cinematic kids were not wise-cracking and genre savvy. All this was presented with a bold, colourful visual style that comes from the most modern computer graphics. I found this really rather charming.
Unfortunately, the film has problems with pacing. It moves very slowly for large chunks, which might be okay, but there are also confusing rushes of plot and exposition, as well as frenetic action scenes that seem a bit out of place. The whole finale is a big action scene that goes on FAR too long, reminding me painfully of Katsuhiro Otomo’s disappointing steampunk anime film Steamboy.
I have my doubts that kids would have much patience for this, and may end up bored and restless despite the colour, life and good characters with whom they can identify. For my part, I found it good, but it could have been so much better.