There comes a time in every person’s life when he or she unintentionally learns a closely guarded secret of how the world works. Many people share such incidents: learning that the tooth fairy, sadly, takes 30% in taxes before leaving the money under your pillow, or that Santa Claus does not, in fact, wrap the toys himself, but rather outsources to elves in the South Pole. From that point on, nothing remains the same, and life is viewed through more somber, less innocent lenses.
Something like this happened to me tonight at HIFF, where I went to view Welcome to the Space Show. It all started normally enough, or so it seemed. I waited in the line like I had for the past few HIFF films, and entered the theater when my line was called. I chose an aisle seat in the middle so that I could have a guaranteed arm rest and easy view of the theater screen. Something was not quite right. I should have seen the indicators: the admission process was running late, and the girl said that the timer would be visible because she could not get rid of it. “Huh? What time…oh, that one in the upper right corner. It’s OK, I guess, since it didn’t block much of the screen.” But yet, I ignored these signs, living in my childhood view of movie theaters. The movie started, and the laughs soon flowed as the action packed beginning made way for a comical interaction between two of the characters. I could tell I was going to enjoy this movie…but then, abruptly, out of nowhere: a black screen. Groans from the audience arose.
Before I could figure out what had happened, the screen was flooded with a familiar blue logo alongside a menu: BLU RAY. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I tried to tell myself to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain, but it was too late, the innocence was gone. I had learned that the magic of the theater was done by devices I had in my house: a remote control and a Blu ray player. The large screen was just a wall for a projector. The inner workings of theatrical wonders had been exposed to me. The magic was gone, replaced by the newfound, more mature knowledge: the theater no longer used the old fashioned film reels I long associated with a trip to the movies. Have they ever? Doubts littered my mind. Laughter from the audience hid the sad truth: a little part of me had died.
Am I being too dramatic?
Anyways, one of the viewers had alerted a staff member to our plight, and into our theater came none other than Chuck Boller, HIFF’s Executive Director, to apologize and explain to us what had happened. He said that there was a problem with the Blu Ray disc (they’re easily scratched), and that someone was going to the office next door to retrieve a backup copy which, while a DVD, would be upscaled by the player. Yay! I found the whole event humorous and waited to see how it would play out. I tried taking a video of when it initially happened, but I failed to realize I was not recording for a full minute during Chuck Boller’s explanation while the Blu Ray logo glowed behind him. Doh!
I did, however, manage to record his impromptu Q&A session that gave some intriguing insight into HIFF and completely made up for the roughly 20 minute delay.
Impromptu Q and A session
Well played, Mr. Boller. Well played.
The movie resumed when the new disc was brought in. We started from the very beginning for the third time (the second time was when they tried to start the movie again and it broke).
As a testament to the film, we laughed at the same jokes and gags again, despite having seen them just less than 20 minutes earlier. I braced myself in the chair, ready to pull out a camera again should the movie break a third time, but it rolled smoothly past the point of breakage and I relaxed, ready to enjoy the movie.
Welcome to the Space Show is an anime about a group of elementary schoolkids who are abduc…kidna…voluntarily go with an dog-like alien on a field-trip to the moon. The dark side of the moon turns out to hold some amazing Men-in-black-esque secrets, which the kids thoroughly enjoy. As if that wasn’t adventure enough, mishaps occur and the characters find themselves going deeper and deeper into space and farther and farther from home in an attempt to return to their school in time. All the while they are pursued by a trio of villains attempting to take the kids and their wasabi. They encounter many delightful space-oddities during their space odyssey, including a worm turned faster-than-light train, a planet with intensely crushing gravity, as well as the eponymous Space Show. The Space Show is a universe wide popular television show which travels from star to star. Not everything is as it seems, though, and the adventure across the universe instills the values of heroism, teamwork, and forgiveness into its participants.
The film is obviously geared towards younger audiences in the same way Pokemon or Toy Story is, but it does contain humor that can make all ages break into hysterics. I myself laughed no less than 50 times (a low estimate) during the course of this hilarious adventure.
The animation and art direction was absolutely beautiful and high quality. In some scenes you get traditionally beautiful anime backdrops and animation (no, not Pokemon. Pokemon does not count), and at other times you get stunningly trippy 3d effects splashed with vibrant colors and movement all over the screen. The scenes are all extremely pleasing to the eyes and makes space not seem so dark and lonely.
I especially liked how much of the Japanese culture you can see in the film. Some of it is extremely subtle, but I managed to notice many things that brought up good memories about my time in Japan. The breakfast scene involving the family sitting at the table really showed a side of a culture that many westerners may not find familiar. The culture, however, is presented in a pleasant way and although the subtleties may not be noticed, it is sure to be appreciated by all.
Welcome to the Spaceshow was a hilarious and enjoyable anime adventure. It’s a fantastic film that any person, regardless of his age or culture, will be sure to enjoy.