A group of school kids camping out for a week find a wounded dog and rescue it. It turns out that the dog is actually an alien studying earth plants. As a reward he takes the kids to the far side of the moon. Every kids dream, right? It’s a gorgeous film, one that you hope would get licensed and released stateside on Blu-ray so you can admire all of its bright candy-colored creatures. We get a bunch of dogs, a giant cat thing that reminds me of Totoro, a striped tomato, a fish bowl, and a female Terriermon. You would think this is a studio Ghibli flick just based off imagination alone. Even the children are written and animated the way children should be – curious, energetic, and individualistic.
Every shot offers something new. If this had a better story – better thought out and a bit more maturity, like a Pixar film or a Miyazaki film – this really could have been a classic for the ages. But nope, this isn’t Pixar, and the team behind this just doesn’t have the complete magic touch I had hoped a film of this caliber would have. At its very heart, you must remember that it really is a children’s movie that is aimed at a younger audience, so don’t expect any wild plot twists or overly-complex themes. And yes, the length also kinda works against the movie. It’s a heavy 136 minutes long, so there is no excuse why the characters couldn’t have been expanded upon. Even the human characters lean a bit on the stereotypical side: you’ve got the leader, the nerd, the shy girl who aspires to be a singer, and so on. This film really flew under the radar as it sold fewer than 7000 copies in Japan, and whilst I don’t think anyone can really defend it’s length, it’s still a better movie than it deserves to be based on exposure.
This film has some of the most incredible vistas and production design I’ve ever seen in any film, animated or live action. Unfortunately, the plot has all the problems people have said, and the overall tone is very much that of a kids movie. Certain scenes that arise throughout the series lose some of their power, since the time that went to preparing for that event went to another issue that had to be covered, and usually for the sake of developing the setting. 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.
To summarize, the animation and art direction was absolutely beautiful and high quality. However, it is a kids movie so please be prepared for that before viewing. It takes a messy turn for the worse towards the last half of the film, but I was so entranced by the brilliant visuals and action that I stopped trying to make sense of anything. However, the main problem that I had with the cast was that it felt too big. Trim down the runtime and the cast and you would have had a really tight, compelling film. Still, it is worth your time!