Starring Shinichiro Miki, Banjou Ginga, Hideki Ogihara, Kotono Mitsuishi, Shigeru Chiba, Takaco Kato, Yutaka Aoyama, Hisayoshi Izaki, Mahito Tsujimura
Directed by Takeshi Ui
Space Travelers was a live-action film that had nothing to do with space travel. It involved a group of loser bank robbers who tried to make themselves seem less like losers by pretending to be anime characters. Methinks there was a rather large flaw in that logic. In any case, the filmmakers decided to capitalize on the idea by also making the anime that the live-action characters were imitating, hence we got Space Travelers: The Animation.
The film is really a satire of the genre and so it is something of a deliberate B-movie. Not knowing any of this before diving in, I expected nothing more than a cheap bit of generic crap. I wasn’t disappointed either. It’s a pretty generic space adventure story that gathers a bunch of very shallow characters together for a bunch of vaguely coherent action scenes. That’s kind of selling the film short, though. It’s actually rather fun, and its sheer exuberance makes up for any of its shortcomings.
Enter the Space Travelers, a gang of smugglers who will brave the deadly hordes to deliver cargo to the beleaguered people still living on Earth. And this is where the film turns to pure fun as it introduces the team in the opening credits via a montage of epic music and action scenes showcasing each character’s unique ability to kick ass, then pauses at a perfect dramatic moment and plasters their name and a list of facts about them over the screen. Now that’s how you open a film!
This exuberance completely makes up for the lack of quality. There are plenty of gun fights and space battles, that is the whole purpose of the film after all. They aren’t done particularly well, but they’re so filled with gusto that I didn’t really care. Every fight is filled with cocky grins and laughter. Every space battle has to catalog what percentage their shields are at and how long it will take them to recharge.
It’s all a bunch of generic action, and it even has an obligatory combining sequence just for the hell of it. The film gets by on attitude alone, but that was enough for me. I maybe shouldn’t have had as much fun with Space Travelers as I did, but I guess it hit my inner ten year old just right. I had a blast with it, and it was certainly much better than I ever expected it would be.