It is not every day that a dog begins having a conversation with you. It is not every day that aliens come to Earth and end up in the Japanese countryside where children find them wounded in a field, either. What do you do when that happens to you? Take the alien back to the school building and nurse it back to health during summer camp, of course. So begins Welcome to the Space Show.
As a reward for helping him, Pochi—the alien dog— rewards the five children with a trip to the moon, where they are promptly stranded due (inadvertently) to Pochi’s report of his time on Earth. In order to get back to Earth, the children must travel with Pochi to his home planet. Along the way, they are pursued by mysterious aliens after a rare substance called Zughaan.
I have not seen a film this colorful—meaning a lot of bright colors—since the online world of Summer Wars. While the Japan depicted in Welcome to the Space Show is very accurate, especially for rural areas, the alien worlds and locations are kaleidoscopes of colors and shapes and dazzling otherness. Totally trippy in many cases, if you catch my drift.
The Earthlings are not helpless fish out of water, however. After being stranded on the Moon, they get part-time jobs to earn passage to Pochi’s home planet. All through the film, the children rise to the occasion and do what needs to be done, even in the face of incredible (and sometimes scary) odds. All of it is done with a touch (or more) of humor, when needed, and some very serious moments, as well. I thought this was an excellent choice on the part of the director and screenwriters.
The music, by Yoshihiro Ike, worked seamlessly with the visuals to immerse the viewer in the story. There were majestic pieces, and fun, pop music that helped to move the story along and transition from scene to scene. It simply felt like a natural part of Welcome to the Space Show, and I love it when that happens. One surprising note (which isn’t a spoiler, per se, just surprising) is the ending theme song sung by Susan Boyle. This is not her best song ever, but it works well with the film.
The story started off a little slowly, though that is a little understandable since the beginning of the story had the children at their elementary school summer camp (basically five days at the school during the summer vacation, without direct adult supervision). Once they head to the moon, the story picks up the pace, pausing only for a short and idyllic stay at Pochi’s parents’ house.
I really enjoyed Welcome to the Space Show. Even though all the main human characters were elementary school kids, their personalities and interactions with each other and the aliens drew me into the story. Even with the pacing issues at the beginning, the story is surprisingly deep if you take the time to enjoy it. I plan to do so again many times in the future.
Release Date: June 26, 2010 (Japan)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Original Title: 宇宙ショーへようこそ (Uchū Shō he Yōkoso)
Alcohol/Drugs: 0 (unless you count zughaan)
Nudity: 0 (though they do show Pochi’s behind)
Sexuality: 0 (very slight innuendo)
Violence: 0 (aliens fighting, some intense fighting, intense situations)