Those of you who are familiar with Joseph Lai's body of work, this is Thunder Prince IN SPACE!. A very, very bad Humongous Mecha pseudo-anime released in 1991 about three children (or three teams with three children each depending on how you interpret it) that can pilot giant robots trying to defeat the Big Bad and his army: the Dark Empire. There are also some Space Opera elements thrown in with advanced space stations and dogfights going on in space.
This decidedly weird animated film is a result of Joseph Lai buying South Korean cartoons on the cheap and editing them to make "new" features. The result is a benchmark case of Cut-and-Paste Translation after putting all the different shows together. Lai made many films like this, but Space Thunder Kids stands out as arguably the strangest and most incomprehensible of his infamous works.
This "film" was edited with footage from Savior of the Earth, Defenders of Space - Phoenix-bot Phoenix King, King Robot, Protectors of Universe - Super Express Mazinger 7, Solar Adventure, Space Transformers - Micro-Commando Diatron-5, Super Mazinger 3 and Iron Man Trio. All of the aforementioned movies are also ripoffs of other anime like Mazinger Z (and all but the last were separately dubbed by Joseph Lai as well).
This film provides examples of:
- Aborted Arc: A lot of these. Or are there? Thanks to the constant art shifts, it is hard to tell what is and what isn't supposed to be there.
- All There in the Manual: It's a good thing the back of the cover describes the entire movie from start to finish, because otherwise we'd never know what we were watching. Apparently somewhere during the hour-and-a-half of tanks and explosions is the plot about saving a scientist.
- Captain Ersatz: as Spoony and Bennet the Sage noted in their review of the "movie" one character resembles Sloth from The Goonies, though said character has nothing else in common
- Child Soldiers: The main characters. (Now, if only we could tell who the main characters are...)
- Covers Always Lie: None of the characters on the cover are actually in the movie. Unless they look completely different in the film proper, of course...which isn't much of a stretch, really.
- Cut-and-Paste Translation: Definitely a lot of these. The same characters change their appearance completely from scene to scene.
- Decoy Protagonist: Who the hell are the space thunder kids? There's a random focus on at least three different space travelling groups, but none of them do anything of importance, and none of them ever last longer than a scene or two. Eventually it becomes impossible to discern who are supposed to be the bad guys and who are the heroes, because all the ships look the same.
- Detail-Hogging Cover: If only the movie looked that good...
- The Empire: The forces of Earth are supposedly fighting one.
- Epic Flail: Some of the giant robots of the Dark Emperor fight with these in space, Newton's laws be damned.
- Filler: Hey, check out this animation cycle of rolling tanks we have! Isn't it great? Let's loop it for 5 minutes straight!
- Galactic Conqueror: The Dark Emperor.
- HeelFace Turn: The general (who is North Korean communist dictator Kim Il Sung) at the end.
- Hong Kong Dub
- Inexplicably Identical Individuals: The lines of civilians running away from the buildings being leveled by Neon Light Godzilla.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Perhaps unintentionally, as a result of this film being an attempt to mash several films together. The Dark Emperor has a lot of lieutenants.
- Never Trust a Trailer: Inverted; the "trailer" found online? The repeated exclamations of SPACE THUNDER KIDS? That's in the actual film.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Kim Il Sung, as the evil general working with the aliens.
- Public Domain Animation: This movie fell under this early for unknown reasons, leaving some viewers to joke that the movie was too awful for the producers to wanna claim ownership of it.
- Random Events Plot: Due to the film being somewhat haphazardly cobbled together from a bunch of other films, there is a lot of jumping between several completely unrelated plot points with only token attempts at telling some sort of overarching story with them.
- Recycled Animation: Taken to a whole new level with this film.
- Recycled IN SPACE!: Around the same time, Lai had produced movies entitled "Thunder Ninja Kids". Presumably this work's title is referencing that. It's fitting: given the subpar Cut-and-Paste Translation treatment, it could almost be the Godfrey Ho Ninja Movies ANIMATED! IN SPACE!
- Shoddy Knockoff Product: The film itself, even more so than the already knocked-off films it was based on.
- Space Friction
- Space Is an Ocean: Inverted, Averted, Subverted, Played Straight, Zigzagged, and Hung Out To Dry. The movies can't decide whether or not this trope is in play. Some points even have spaceships that are totally absolutely not Space Battleship Yamato, and at one point, speeds are called out in knots. Not even hundreds or thousands of knots, as would be the case for spaceships if they didn't just use MpH/KpH to begin with, but tens of knots, as if they were going at nautical speeds. Other parts have (by this movie's exceedingly lax standards) passingly realistic space motion.
- Space Is Noisy
- Strong Family Resemblance: Subverted doesn't even begin to describe it. Apparently the seven foot tall one eyed blonde space pirate badass vixen has a sister who is... a one foot tall robot... pig... thing... named Sandy.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- The space station that was attacked by the meteors at the beginning were never seen again. Either that or the space station was drawn differently from there on out. Who knows?
- The tanks.