In the year 4001 a troupe of alien actors are traveling on their spaceship, when suddenly another vessel warps in front of them and crashes on a nearby planet. They go to the rescue, but the only survivor on board is an infant human; despite knowing nothing about humans, they decide to adopt the baby and name her Corona. In the meantime they are constantly sending a signal into outer space, hoping that her nearest living relatives can come and pick her up; until then, they will raise her as her human parents would. Hilarity and cuteness ensue.
Space Family Carlvinson is a 1988 Sci-fi/comedy/Slice of Life OAV based on the manga by Yoshitoo Asari serialized in Shonen Captain from 1985 to 1997. It was Dogakobo's earliest work (they didn't make anything else until 2005) and it never led to a proper series or another adaptation of the original manga. A quite obscure work that was never released outside Japan, it can nevertheless be found on YouTube with fan-made subtitles.
This OAV provides examples of:
- Aliens Speaking English: Everyone speaks Japanese, and it doesn't seem to be Translation Convention, since all written words are in Japanese too.
- Big Creepy-Crawlies: Creatures that look like 3-meter long dragonflies, Corona thought they were regular dragonflies while looking for insects to catch with her net in a swamp. Her family soon comes to the rescue.
- Butt-Monkey: Tak-kun the brain creature is subjected to all kinds of slapstick comedic mishaps.
- Cyber Cyclops: Andy the robot (android?) is basically a couple of humanoid legs topped by an oblong "box" with a big eyeball in the middle.
- Extreme Omnivore: Father is seen eating anything from playing cards to bento boxes (the actual box in addition to the food inside). Sure, he's a robot, but still...
- Fake-Out Opening: A gross Brain Monster is attacking a girl on a spaceship! Except, not really: they're friends and part of an acting troupe, the girl is an alien too, they are just playing cards, and the "monster" is the goofball comic relief character.
- Fauxshadow: Corona, Mother and Beruka are stuck in a swamp. Beruka then starts to awaken some powers that turn her more monstrous (with fangs and glowing eyes) to get them out of the mud. However, Tak-kun tries to get them out and falls himself into the swamp and over Beruka, making her return to normal. Her transformation is never explained and never comes up at another point in the story.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Beruka, another member of the troupe, has pointy ears and some vaguely cat-like features, but she looks mostly human for the rest. Though she's implied to have another form, but nothing really comes of it.
- Human Aliens: The unnamed teacher the family hires so that Corona can live the real kindergarten experience, like all children of her age, looks and acts like a completely normal human. But there's no hint that there are any actual humans in that part of the universe, and in the beginning our heroes don't even know what humans are.
- Imagine Spot: A hilarious one when Corona's family want her to go to kindergarten like all normal human kids. Some of the aliens ask what kindergarten is, and they get told that it is a place where "you have to wear an uniform" and "people go to do fun activities together"... so they imagine it as a seedy night club full of waitresses wearing Playboy Bunny uniforms.
- Intelligent Gerbil: A secondary character is pretty much just a big realistic talking mouse, who always holds a shovel for some reason.
- Meta Mecha: Near the end Father becomes a giant robot by plugging himself into the cockpit of a much larger mech.
- No Antagonist: There are no actual bad guys in this story: Corona's human parents die in an accident, the giant dragonflies are just animals acting on instinct, and the strange octopoid alien that comes to pick up Corona in the end had seemingly no ill intentions and only acted out of loneliness and the desire to have a child of its own. All part of the OAV's relaxed, good-natured feel.
- No Mouth: Mother can talk and eat but has no visible mouth. Other characters have no mouths as well.
- Non-Indicative Title: The title is just a pun (see below), nobody is named Carlvinson in the story, and it has absolutely nothing to do with either the real Carl Vinson or the aircraft carrier named after him.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything:
- Beruka is stated to have become the sheriff of the small village the story is set in, and she has the star emblem to show for it, but she's never seen performing any duties, besides helping the others search for Corona when she's missing.
- Our heroes are a traveling theater troupe, but seem to have been playing the part of Corona's family all the time for five years. Mother is doing housewife duties and Father is lazing around. So how do they earn a living?
- Pun-Based Title: Space Family Carlvinson is a pun on The Swiss Family Robinson; additionally, in Japanese "Space Family" (uchuu kazoku) sounds very similar to "Space Pirates" (uchuu kaizoku).
- The Runaway: Corona runs off after being scolded by Mother, and gets lost in a dark and scary forest.
- Running Gag: Father transforming himself into increasingly bigger robot bodies, until the end when he reaches Super Robot proportions.
- Schizo Tech: All part of the OAV's understated, gentle comedy. There's spaceships, robots, warp drive, but the messages are being picked up by an old-timey radio and Beruka rides a 1980s motorbike, also the setting looks like a rural Japanese village. It's probably all a part of making Corona feel as much as a normal human child as possible.
- Shout-Out: To popular Western science fiction films.
- Special Person, Normal Name: There are aliens and robots with names like Andy, John and Ken.
- Unnamed Parent: Corona's surrogate parents are only referred to as Mother and Father. Probably their real names can't be pronounced by humans, or they just are that into their role-playing.
- Women Are Wiser: Corona's parents may be a rotund furball with some mouse-like features and a transformable robot, but they are playing the part of the typical sitcom parents: the sweet but serious and level-headed (if a bit over-protective) Mother and the dimwitted doofus Father who only cares about eating.