The Other Side of Animation 216: Secret Magic Control Agency Review


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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

A studio I haven’t talked about outside of one review is Wizart Animation. This famed Moscow animation studio has made a name for themselves for high-quality animated features from their country. Well, high-quality animation from the country of origin. A lot of countries seem to be stepping up their animation game by putting more time and effort into higher quality CGI fare. If this studio sounds familiar to any animation fans, it’s because they are behind the Ice Queen and Wolves & Sheep films. I only reviewed the first Ice Queen film, and to be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the studio. Not that I don’t see the effort and talent put into their films, and to give them kudos, I respect the outside film-making elements that they do, like founding an animation school to help revive what was a fruitful animation scene. I might not like many of their films, but I’m glad they are around. So, how have some of their newest projects turned out for them? Well, let’s find out with their newest film Hansel & Gretel aka Secret Magic Control Agency

Directed by Alexy Tsitsilin, this CGI feature is the newest film to start a possible new franchise of films. This film specifically was released in Russia on March 18th, 2021, and got a recent release on Netflix. So, how does this fantastical take on the Brothers Grimm story unfold? Well, you better read the review, or else you will never find out. 

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So, our story revolves around Agent Gretel, voiced by Sylvana Opeis. She is one of the top agents at the Secret Magic Control Agency, an organization that keeps track of all of the magicians and magic users in the world. She is brought in to help find a captured king, voiced by Marc Thompson. The king was captured by a sorceress who uses a lot of food magic named Ilvira, voiced by Erica Schroeder. However, Gretel is tasked with teaming up with her notorious brother Hansel, voiced by Nicholas Corda, an illusionist/con-artist. Things go topsy-turvy when on the mission, Hansel and Gretel end up getting turned into kids with Hansel being voiced by Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, and Gretel being voiced by Courtney Shaw. Can our child-like duo find a way to work together and save the day before Ilvira uses her delicious ways to take over the kingdom? 

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When you see this film’s trailer, you assume it’s going to be like a Shrek-style film where it’s a parody/comedy on fantasy and fairy tales. Well, it’s not that kind of movie. I know everyone wants to lump in every fantasy comedy with references to fairy tales as a Shrek-rip off, but you have to look into what makes a Shrek-style clone. Anyway, this is more of a fantasy action film with some mild fun with references to other fairy tale stories like Aladdin‘s lamp and Pandora’s Box. So, what is this film’s main theme? From what I gathered, the real theme is about family with a heavy emphasis on the theme of trust. While these are admirable and good themes and morals to have, the rest of the film still needs to be interesting and or at the very least, executed in a way where this premise and setting feels unique. It sounds like a cool idea to have a M.I.B or Kingsman-style organization keeping magic in order, but they don’t do a whole lot with it, nor does it have anything that stands out about it. The film doesn’t do much with its magic setting outside of the food witch, but even then, I always felt like they could have pushed the envelope a little more. The characters are also very typical, and why is it in these types of stories, the sister of the two siblings is always considered the uptight workaholic? Why not the guy? Their arc is a little more interesting when they are kids, but why not start them as kids or just keep them as adults? It would just be more interesting with them as kid agents or fully adult. Not every animated film needs to just have kid protagonists. If you do make them the leads, then make them interesting. I tend to like Hansel a little more than Gretel, but they are still pretty bland. The side characters are also fairly forgettable, and I only find some of them interesting because of who their voice actors are. Seriously, I loved spotting Mike Pollock as the Prime Minister. While I’m not fond of the villain being yet another evil sorceress/witch or whatever, at least I found her creativity and design more interesting with the food magic. I admire the ambition of how grand and creative the story wanted to be, but the problem with making a film for everyone is that if you don’t have the proper execution, then you are going to be a film for no one. It’s 2021, we have almost 30 years of CGI animation and it’s been 20 years since the first Shrek film happened. You need to do a little more than just the bare minimum. I want to see Wizart be the best kind of studio they can be, but when other studios are stepping up their animation game with not only great visuals but also great stories, well, ya need to play ball on the same level. Not to say this film didn’t have any touching moments or moments of endearment, but it’s a mostly forgettable experience. 

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Animation-wise, it looks solid! It’s still not up to par with most animated features from this or the previous decade, but you can tell from their first film to their most recent that Wizart is getting better at their craft. I do think something is up with how characters in this world run because it reminds me of how humans in Shrek would run or how they make characters move in Vanguard Animation films. It’s not quite there, but I think they are getting better. It just needs a little more polish or a little more thought put into how you want the characters to move. The voice cast is solid. I found the lip-syncing to be better than previous efforts, and some of them put in some pretty good performances. They help elevate what is otherwise a fairly forgettable script. Doesn’t hurt to have some pretty talented voice actors. What about the music? Well, the soundtrack composed by Gabriel Hays and Brad Breeck is once again not bad, but I don’t remember any of the tunes or the more distracting pop and rock songs. It all meshed together. 

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Secret Magic Control Agency is one of the better films I have seen from Wizart Animation, but it still doesn’t get better than just, okay. It’s on Netflix so you won’t have a hard time debating if you want to pay the rental fee or not to watch it, but even then, there are better features that just happen to be animated coming out in April for Netflix that makes this one less of a priority. Still, you can find much worse on Netflix than this film. Oh well. Next time, we will be back with another screener, but that won’t be for a week or so. Sorry for all of the blind previews. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Rent it! 


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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

A studio I haven’t talked about outside of one review is Wizart Animation. This famed Moscow animation studio has made a name for themselves for high-quality animated features from their country. Well, high-quality animation from the country of origin. A lot of countries seem to be stepping up their animation game by putting more time and effort into higher quality CGI fare. If this studio sounds familiar to any animation fans, it’s because they are behind the Ice Queen and Wolves & Sheep films. I only reviewed the first Ice Queen film, and to be honest, I wouldn’t call myself a fan of the studio. Not that I don’t see the effort and talent put into their films, and to give them kudos, I respect the outside film-making elements that they do, like founding an animation school to help revive what was a fruitful animation scene. I might not like many of their films, but I’m glad they are around. So, how have some of their newest projects turned out for them? Well, let’s find out with their newest film Hansel & Gretel aka Secret Magic Control Agency

Directed by Alexy Tsitsilin, this CGI feature is the newest film to start a possible new franchise of films. This film specifically was released in Russia on March 18th, 2021, and got a recent release on Netflix. So, how does this fantastical take on the Brothers Grimm story unfold? Well, you better read the review, or else you will never find out. 

imageedit_3_2706745357.jpg

So, our story revolves around Agent Gretel, voiced by Sylvana Opeis. She is one of the top agents at the Secret Magic Control Agency, an organization that keeps track of all of the magicians and magic users in the world. She is brought in to help find a captured king, voiced by Marc Thompson. The king was captured by a sorceress who uses a lot of food magic named Ilvira, voiced by Erica Schroeder. However, Gretel is tasked with teaming up with her notorious brother Hansel, voiced by Nicholas Corda, an illusionist/con-artist. Things go topsy-turvy when on the mission, Hansel and Gretel end up getting turned into kids with Hansel being voiced by Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, and Gretel being voiced by Courtney Shaw. Can our child-like duo find a way to work together and save the day before Ilvira uses her delicious ways to take over the kingdom? 

imageedit_5_2970690064.jpg

When you see this film’s trailer, you assume it’s going to be like a Shrek-style film where it’s a parody/comedy on fantasy and fairy tales. Well, it’s not that kind of movie. I know everyone wants to lump in every fantasy comedy with references to fairy tales as a Shrek-rip off, but you have to look into what makes a Shrek-style clone. Anyway, this is more of a fantasy action film with some mild fun with references to other fairy tale stories like Aladdin‘s lamp and Pandora’s Box. So, what is this film’s main theme? From what I gathered, the real theme is about family with a heavy emphasis on the theme of trust. While these are admirable and good themes and morals to have, the rest of the film still needs to be interesting and or at the very least, executed in a way where this premise and setting feels unique. It sounds like a cool idea to have a M.I.B or Kingsman-style organization keeping magic in order, but they don’t do a whole lot with it, nor does it have anything that stands out about it. The film doesn’t do much with its magic setting outside of the food witch, but even then, I always felt like they could have pushed the envelope a little more. The characters are also very typical, and why is it in these types of stories, the sister of the two siblings is always considered the uptight workaholic? Why not the guy? Their arc is a little more interesting when they are kids, but why not start them as kids or just keep them as adults? It would just be more interesting with them as kid agents or fully adult. Not every animated film needs to just have kid protagonists. If you do make them the leads, then make them interesting. I tend to like Hansel a little more than Gretel, but they are still pretty bland. The side characters are also fairly forgettable, and I only find some of them interesting because of who their voice actors are. Seriously, I loved spotting Mike Pollock as the Prime Minister. While I’m not fond of the villain being yet another evil sorceress/witch or whatever, at least I found her creativity and design more interesting with the food magic. I admire the ambition of how grand and creative the story wanted to be, but the problem with making a film for everyone is that if you don’t have the proper execution, then you are going to be a film for no one. It’s 2021, we have almost 30 years of CGI animation and it’s been 20 years since the first Shrek film happened. You need to do a little more than just the bare minimum. I want to see Wizart be the best kind of studio they can be, but when other studios are stepping up their animation game with not only great visuals but also great stories, well, ya need to play ball on the same level. Not to say this film didn’t have any touching moments or moments of endearment, but it’s a mostly forgettable experience. 

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Animation-wise, it looks solid! It’s still not up to par with most animated features from this or the previous decade, but you can tell from their first film to their most recent that Wizart is getting better at their craft. I do think something is up with how characters in this world run because it reminds me of how humans in Shrek would run or how they make characters move in Vanguard Animation films. It’s not quite there, but I think they are getting better. It just needs a little more polish or a little more thought put into how you want the characters to move. The voice cast is solid. I found the lip-syncing to be better than previous efforts, and some of them put in some pretty good performances. They help elevate what is otherwise a fairly forgettable script. Doesn’t hurt to have some pretty talented voice actors. What about the music? Well, the soundtrack composed by Gabriel Hays and Brad Breeck is once again not bad, but I don’t remember any of the tunes or the more distracting pop and rock songs. It all meshed together. 

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Secret Magic Control Agency is one of the better films I have seen from Wizart Animation, but it still doesn’t get better than just, okay. It’s on Netflix so you won’t have a hard time debating if you want to pay the rental fee or not to watch it, but even then, there are better features that just happen to be animated coming out in April for Netflix that makes this one less of a priority. Still, you can find much worse on Netflix than this film. Oh well. Next time, we will be back with another screener, but that won’t be for a week or so. Sorry for all of the blind previews. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Rent it! 

The Other Side of Animation 199: Weathering With You Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

Content Warning/Heads Up: I will be talking about the film’s ending because it needs to be discussed, so if you have yet to watch this film, do so right now. 

Well, I was going to review Hayop Ka!, the adult animated film from the Philippines that hit Netflix. Sadly, there is a problem with that, it’s not available on US Netflix. I know I could pay for a VPN and use a different region’s Netflix, but consider me lazy, I don’t feel like doing such a thing until the film gets an official US release. The fact that it’s available everywhere else on Netflix but my country is so weird. Well, that’s life for ya. Sometimes, a wrench is thrown into my original plans, and for the first time out of almost 200 reviews, I have to talk about a different film than what I promised from my previous review. Oh well, one out of 198 reviews is pretty great, huh? Luckily, I wanted to review this replacement film for a while, because it’s one of the biggest films of 2020 in the indie scene, and one of the biggest hits for GKIDS and Makoto Shinkai, Weathering With You

Directed by Makoto Shinkai, this was the famed director’s follow-up to the monumental hit Your Name. It played at the Annecy 2019 film festival in the work-in-progress section, and was the first film shown at the Animation is Film Festival 2019 Edition. It may not have been the second coming of Your Name, but it still racked up awards all over the place in both nominations and wins. If Japan took the film and made it their submission for the Best Foreign Feature award at the Oscars, then that’s saying something. Personally, while I think Your Name is a great movie, and my opinion of it has changed somewhat since I reviewed it, I prefer Weathering With You. Why? Well, you have to read the review. 

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Our story revolves around Hodoka Morishima, dubbed by Brandon Engman. He leaves his town and goes to Tokyo to chase after a sensation he saw in his home in Kozu-shima. As he gets there, he is poor, quickly running out of money, not finding a job, and in dire need of a home. He decides to take up a small gig at a small-time magazine company run by a man who saved him on the boat, Keisuke Suga, dubbed by Lee Pace. After doing a couple of weeks working with the small company, Hodoka encounters a girl he ran into when he arrived in Tokyo, a teenager named Hina Amano, dubbed by Ashley Boettcher. As the two teens bond, Hodoka finds out that Hina can control the weather by making the sun shine and the rain vanish that has been heavily pouring down in Japan. So, how will this result in the pair’s relationship? Can they brighten your day and or find happiness, and where they are going in life? 

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So, one thing I notice in a lot of Makoto Shinkai films, is that he loves to have two things, teen romance and love over long-distance being used in their relationships. What shocked me is that Shinkai pretty much ditched the long-distance part as this is one film from him that I can think of where the teen couple is with one another for a mass majority of the film. I think that helps, because I like the relationship between the two kids. I know a lot of romance stories dealing with tragedy love to kill one of the love interests early on, and well, it’s nice to see films like Weathering With You and Ride Your Wave show the characters in relationships. It carries with itself a lot of the energy of teens feeling like they are lost in life, and they need to find their way and what they are looking for. Of course, this film has other bits of commentary, like environmentalism. The actions of the sunshine girl will have consequences, due to how the film has a reoccurring theme of finding your happiness and joy in what you have going on in your life right now, and trying not to worry about what will happen in the future. I like how the main cast is handled. Many times with Shinkai films, the side cast isn’t all that memorable, due to how much emphasis is put on the two leads. Here they feel more robust with how they work off of the two teens and how their stories are woven into the overarching plot. 

So, one thing that has stuck out to people who have seen this film is the highly controversial ending. If you have yet to see this film, then please know that this is where I’ll be talking about it. If you have yet to see the film, then please watch it before reading this review. Otherwise, it’s your darn fault if you read this part. Let’s get to it! 

From what I have gathered, you either love the ending, or you hate it due to the actions of the lead character. He caused Japan to flood because he wanted to be with the one he loved. It makes him a reckless protagonist. At least, that’s one side of the argument. The other side of the overall conversation is the environmentalism angle it’s going for. Honestly, it’s a mix of both and some more emotional core elements. For example, the sunshine girl’s deeds are great, but there is a fairly selfish side to what happens in the film. All of these people get to have good days due to her actions, but the day she vanishes, everyone is like “it’s for the greater good”, and that’s messed up that a human sacrifice was a good thing in the long run. This is, of course, taking into consideration that due to what is going on with our abuse of the ecosystem, ocean-side cities, countries, and what have you will sadly end up underwater if we don’t do something about it. Yes, the male lead did cause Japan to flood due to his selfishness that he would rather be with her than have all of the sunshine in the world. I mean, yeah, it looks bad, but due to how the environment is responding to us and the recklessness of teenage love, I get why he made those actions. I understand why people love and hate it, but in the end, the film’s core seems to be that things are rough, so enjoy what you have right now, and while things are going to be tough, we will be alright. However, simply put, that is my takeaway from this, and if you agree, that’s cool! If you don’t agree, then that’s fine as well! 

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Animation-wise, I mean, it’s Makoto Shinkai. It’s a gorgeous movie with some of the studio’s best animation and visuals yet. It combines everything you would love from the rain in The Garden of Words to the amazing skylines of Your Name, and while you may not see anything unique about the character designs, they still look like characters from a Shinkai film. In terms of the dub cast, I know not everyone is always on board with celebrities doing voice casts, but from my experience, they are pretty good, and that’s no different here. It helps that it’s a mix of voice actors and big names, but the big names aren’t distracting. The cast includes Brandon Engman, Ashley Boettcher, Lee Pace, Alison Brie, Riz Ahmed, Barbara Goodson, Lexie Foley, Mike Pollock, Barbara Rosenblat, Wayne Grayson, Emeka Guindo, and if you know your Shinkai filmography, you will notice two actors from Your Name show up as their characters. They bring in strong performances, and of course, the Japanese cast is also great. Everyone feels very natural, so you can’t go wrong with watching one or the other. The overall soundtrack composed by the band RADWIMPS is quite stellar as well. It’s fun to see Shinkai have what could be his go-to-in-house music team with RADWIMPS, since this is their second time collaborating since 2016’s Your Name. I love a lot of the songs on the soundtrack. I listened to We’ll Be Alright ever since I saw the film back in October 2019. 

Now, do I have any criticisms? I think this is better than Your Name, so that means it’s a better film overall, right? Well, that’s not true. As much as I don’t mind the ending, and I get where he was coming from with how he handled it, I wish it was executed better. I know I spent a chunk of my review defending the ending, but it’s not like I don’t flip-flop from time to time when I think about this film’s ending. 

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Other than that, I think Weathering With You is a fantastic film from Shinkai and his team at CoMix Wave Films, and while I know many people will prefer Your Name, I love Weathering With You overall. Still, both movies are great, so they are like comparing one great milkshake to another great milkshake. You don’t lose in that situation. Still, I think it’s impressive that Weathering With You is still one of the most successful indie films of the year, but knowing how this year turned out, it’s a blessing and a curse. If you have yet to watch this film, please do so. Rent it, buy the normal version, the steelbook version, or the collector’s edition. You will not be disappointed. Well, we are now at 199 film reviews. Let’s then move onto something special for the 200th review. It should be something special, and you will just have to wait and see what it is. 

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time! 

Rating: Criterion/Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 165: Promare Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

When celebrating my 4th year of reviewing animated films, I wanted to pick something that would be special. It’s an exceptional review, and a yearly special should be about an interesting film. Well, what did I pick for this year? I chose Studio Trigger’s first feature film, Promare. Directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, Promare is an accumulation of what you get when you give a Japanese studio known for high-octane action, a feature film budget, and total unapologetic passion. It’s the right kind of project that most passion projects could only dream of becoming. Let’s dive right in!

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The film takes place in a world where one day, people started gaining the ability to manipulate fire! They were labeled the Burnish. After almost wiping out all of the earth, 30 years pass, and we come to the beginning of the film where the major Burnish threat was taken care of. A Burnish fire breaks out, and a team of specialized firefighters called Burning Rescue is sent to take out the Burnish threat and save the innocent lives. Our main hero is Galos Thymos, dubbed by Billy Kametz. He’s the rookie member of Burning Rescue that ends up encountering the leader of a terrorist group called Mad Burnish. The leader of this terrorist group is named Lio Fotia, dubbed by Johnny Yong Bosch. After Galos captures Lio and his two grunts, things unfold into chaos as maybe the Burnish are not the bad guys, and something might be up with the governor of the city, Kray Foresight, dubbed by Crispin Freeman.

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I want to start gushing about the film, and there is nothing any of you can do to stop me! Anyway, the animation is downright gorgeous. Sure, it might be a mix of 2D and CGI animation, but, and I mean this with all sincerity, Promare might be the best Japanese-animated film that combines the two. The color choices are so perfect. All of the colors, even the darker ones are bright. The blues, the reds, the whites, the blacks, the neon pinks, the yellows, and you get the idea. Even with such a bright color palette and cartoony designs and movements, there are some beautiful shots and serious moments that never feel out of place. This film’s visual direction is on point.

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Now, in terms of action, it’s Studio Trigger. They open up with one of the most exciting sequences that you will see in 2019, and the action ramps up from there in true Studio Trigger fashion. It’s well-choreographed, exciting, never too busy to miss out on what’s going on, and it’s so earnest and aware of how absurd the fighting is. The dialogue during the animation is so aware of its epic nature, that it constantly calls itself out.

Even though the film is advertised as this epic action film, Promare does take time to let the story breathe, tackle themes about discrimination and nature, and let the characters flesh themselves out more. I found myself rooting for the good guys and the Burnish in their ideals and reasons for doing what they do. It might be loud dumb fun, but it has a heart, and that’s what keeps it from being a style-over-substance problem that we see in many passion projects. It knows when to push the pedal to the metal, and it knows when to chill for a moment.

In terms of the dub, I adored the cast they hired. You have some veteran voice actors like the always awesome Johnny Yong Bosch, Kari Wahlgren, Neil Kaplan, Crispin Freeman, and my man Steve Blum, but everyone was well-cast and put in five-star performances. Everyone was on the same page, and I didn’t see one actor who was left out. While anime voice acting can have its challenges, I bet everyone had a fun time getting to be boisterous, loud, and entertaining. Seriously, Billy Kametz, Erica Lindbeck, Matthew Mercer, Melissa Fahn, Mike Pollock, Alyson Leigh Rosenfeld, and Yuri Lowenthal were all fantastic. The music as well was perfect. It was grand in scale, epic, and it kept me and the audience excited throughout the entire film. Composer Hiroyuki Sawano put in a soundtrack that I could hear myself listening to anytime I’m about to go to work or getting ready for a physical workout. It’s just so beautiful, and I got pumped up and was ready for the next scene.

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Now, I could talk about how maybe some of the absurdity was a little much, or how the majority of Burning Rescue characters don’t get much screen time or development, but you know what? That doesn’t matter for this film. It’s meant to be this big fun movie, and that’s what I got. It had great animation, exciting action sequences, likable characters, awesome music, and was a blast from beginning to end. If you can find a theater that will be playing the dub or sub version of this film, go and watch it! For now, I think it’s time to look at one more Japanese feature before we watch DreamWorks Abominable. How about we make a return visit with our favorite anime thief, and check out Lupin the 3rd: Goemon’s Blood Spray?

Thanks for reading my review! I hope you enjoyed it. Make sure to like and share it! If you would like to support my work, you can become a patron at patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Criterion/Essentials

The Other Side of Animation 83: Japanese Animation Month 2 Part 1: Welcome to the Space Show Review

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(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this review!)

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While I do like when a film that is set in space treats me like an individual with brain cells, I do miss when having a film set in space could mean fun and creative adventures. It’s not that I don’t like being challenged intellectually, but it seems like that is all we are getting with films like Interstellar, and while I enjoy that movie, I had a lot more fun watching something like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, where it’s all about the creativity, action, and adventure with something as big as space. That is why I was intrigued by Welcome to the Space Show. This 2010 Japanese-animated film was produced by A1 Pictures, the studio behind Fairy Tail and Black Butler. The film was directed by Koji Masunari and returning name from a previous review, Masaaki Yuasa, the man behind Mindgame. It was brought over to the states by GKids back in 2014, and has gone under the radar since then. Since I’m talking about it, this must be some pretty entertaining stuff. Well, you would be right. Let’s dive into this space romp.

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The story revolves around a group of kids who are staying in a school building for a week or so during summer vacation. These kids include Natsuki, voiced by Stephanie Sheh, her cousin Amane, voiced by Michaela Dean, Kiyoshi, voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas, Noriko, voiced by Cassandra Lee, and Koji, voiced by Michael Jacob Wayne. One day as they are searching for a lost rabbit, they come across an actual crop circle, and decide to investigate. Upon the investigation, they find an injured dog. After recovering, the dog turns out to be an alien dog named Pochi, voiced by Marc Diraison. Pochi thanks the kids by taking them through an adventure in space. They get wrapped up in a sinister plan set in motion by an alien named Neppo, voiced by Mike Pollock, who wants to become a God and rule the universe with a special weapon. Can Pochi and the kids save the universe before they get back home?

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So, what do I like about this movie? Well, I might use this term a lot, but it honestly fits this film, it feels like a 80s adventure film aimed at a general family-friendly audience. It might have kids as the lead, but you can tell a lot of the time was put into how fantastical the space world around them is. Since this is by one of the directors of Mindgame, you will be seeing many different aliens of all shapes and sizes. It’s hard to explain unless you actually see some of the screen shots from the film. It reminds me of the anime series, Space Dandy. Everything is so wildly imaginative and creative, from the vehicles used to travel to the planets to out-of-this-world alien designs. It looks like someone took a bunch of children’s drawings, mixed them with some LCD, a dash of Yellow Submarine, a hefty helping of Carnevale, and brought them to life, since there are very few designs that look alike that weren’t the lead or secondary characters. Everything is so colorful and vibrant. Sure, it has its moments to have darker or more sinister sequences, but for about 95% of the time, the colors are lush and diverse. Even with how bonkers the entire universe is that they explore, they do keep it grounded to a degree, and let the story and atmosphere take some time to envelop you into it. It’s nice that a film as crazy and vibrant as Welcome to the Space Show does slow down, since viewers need time to decompress and not feel like they are in constant state of movement. Sometimes that state of mind is great, but it can also be tiring.

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Due to the less-detailed designs, the animation is able to be faster and more fluid than some other films with more detailed animation. It makes many of the expressions on the aliens great, and the action fun. The first chase sequence and the final battle come to mind, where this kind of style and animation works great with battles that feel like every hit has weight behind it. Sure, I know some people could argue that due to the designs and animation, everyone looks a bit sloppy, but it does add personality to the film. At the very least, it’s not Samurai 7 where only the action scenes and the occasional emotional/character moment look great, and everything else can look like utter chicken scratch. While it doesn’t have that fluidity that Ghibli films or Hosoda films have, it’s still a pretty well-animated film. I also enjoyed the voice cast. I felt like, for the most part, everyone that they hired did a good job. It’s fun to see Michael Sinterniklaas and Mike Pollock in the cast, since I don’t’ always think of them in Japanese animation. I almost forgot that Michael Sinterniklaas was in this film, since he sounds so much like Yuri Lowenthal. Mike Pollock was a lot of fun as the villain, because he is pretty much bringing that entertaining energy that he uses for Dr. Eggman/Robotnik from Sonic the Hedgehog into his performance as Welcome to the Space Show’s lead villain.

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With all that said, I do have some complaints. In terms of the overall length of the film, it does tend to drag a bit. It has a touch too much filler going on, and by the third act, I was still enjoying it, but was hoping it would end soon. There are also a few scenes/things that kind of bothered me, and I don’t know if they ever thought about it before keeping these moments in the film. The first moment that bugged me was when the second oldest female lead was heading off to meet up with the others. You see her younger brother on top of a cow, but with no pants. Yeah, no offense or anything, but I do not want to see little kids naked. Another plot point that I find creepy is Pochi’s relationship with the youngest girl. It’s obvious that he has a crush on her, and, yeah, I find that a tad disturbing. I guess it’s trying to be comedic, but it’s once again fairly creepy. I also found the two youngest characters in the film to not have the best voice work.

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Even with the pacing problems and some questionable elements to the overall experience, Welcome to the Space Show is fun. It has good animation, great visuals, fun action, a solid voice cast, and is a fun adventure. It might not be in my top 10 in terms of GKids-released animated films, but it’s one space adventure I will never forgot. Well then, next up on the animation chopping block, let’s go topsy-turvey and review Patema Inverted. Thanks for reading. I will see you all next time!

Rating: Go See It!