THEM Anime Reviews
Home Reviews Extras Forums
AKA: Uchuu Kazoku Carlvinson
Genre: Sci-fi comedy
Length: OAV, 45 minutes
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America.
Content Rating: 3+ (slapstick violence, explosions, undetailed character deaths)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: My Neighbor Totoro, Usagi Drop, (non-anime) Lilo and Stitch
Notes: Based on the 1985 manga by Yoshito Asari run in Shonen Captain, which was in turn very loosely inspired (ultimately) by the German-language novel The Swiss Family Robinson (Der Schweizerische Robinson) by Johann David Wyss. "Carlvinson" is a punning reference on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Carl Vinson (CVN-70) which was operating in the western Pacific during this period, and Space Family (uchuu kazoku) is in turn a pun on the common SF trope of Space Pirates (uchuu kaizoku).
Rating: Four StarsFour StarsFour StarsFour Stars

Space Family Carlvinson

Synopsis

An alien theater troupe is involved in a near-collision with a spaceship which subsequently crash-lands. They find only survivor - an infant human girl named Corona whose parents had died trying to save her. Taking Corona as their own "child" of sorts until such time as they can find her closest living relatives, the troupe learns about human child-rearing ... and about the universal emotions of belonging and family.


Review

Space Family Carlvinson is so obscure it doesn't have an English-language Wikipedia article at the time of review. However, it was actually one of the very first anime I'd ever heard of, as a fansub of this (well-regarded back then) was floating around THEM circles back in the late 90s. I never got a chance to view it then, so no review was forthcoming until technology finally caught up to the land of ancient, obscure Japan-only features and this little gem finally shone its light into my home.

This is the kind of show that is perennially underrated and overlooked in modern anime fan circles. It isn't very flashy (apart from Corona's pink hair) and by modern standards it's not particularly well-animated (though it looks pretty clean even today); there's no fanservice to speak of, as it seems intended for a younger audience. This isn't the kind of show you would see made today.

And, well, that's kind of a shame, because Space Family Carlvinson, for all its forty-five minutes, is adorable, heartwarming, and sweet. The characters of the theater troupe each have distinctive personalities to go along with their designs (refreshingly, only one of them even resembles a modified human - Jason Huff over at The Anime Review describes Corona's adoptive mom as a "giant purple tribble" which is spot-on) and there's a ton of physical humor which, though not normally my thing, is well-executed, without really a hint of anything inappropriate. Yeah, there's a few explosions and some slapstick, all played for laughs, and no one ever really gets hurt. In other words, this is probably one of the safest anime you could show your younger relatives, and yet not once did I feel talked down to or patronized - there's nothing "dumbed down" about this show. And really, there's something a bit gratifying and comforting about watching space aliens go through the process of raising a human child.

It's rare to see that sort of "family viewing", especially not these days, without some self-aware commentary or snarkiness or some mawkishly moralizing message, but Space Family Carlvinson eschews all of that, simply and unironically telling us a tale about Corona and her adopted intergalactic family. And don't be fooled by their alien appearances: the theater troupe is absolutely her family and that is what we take away from this charming little feature: after all it's right there in the title! No, I am not a parent, nor should you need to be a parent to enjoy this.

This isn't a paradigm shift in 80s anime, and doesn't need to be: Space Family Carlvinson is quite simply an adorable nugget of anime past that deserves to be applauded and enjoyed.

An sweet-hearted, underrated gem that, unlike so many other anime, is fine family viewing.Carlos Ross

Recommended Audience: There are character deaths early on (the parents) that are treated frankly and with the proper degree of concern and emotion. Otherwise, mild slapstick violence and explosion that wouldn't even scare most toddlers. Fine for just about anyone except people too "hardcore" for a family film.



Version(s) Viewed: Untranslated digital release
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Space Family Carlvinson © 1988 Yoshito Asari / Kodansha
 
© 1998-2014 THEM Anime Reviews. All rights reserved.