“Space Dandy! He’s a dandy guy…in space. He combs the galaxy like his pompadour on the hunt for aliens. Planet after planet he searches, discovering new creatures both friendly and not. These are the spectacular adventures of Space Dandy and his brave space crew. In space.”
An opening narration can tell a lot about a show. While Star Trek’s intro clued the audience into the serious tone of the show, Space Dandy is nothing at all like the popular franchise. It fact, the description tells the audience that they’re in for a wild and wacky space adventure.
However, is that really what Space Dandy is about? Let’s talk about it, shall we?
Space Dandy is an anime series directed by Shinichiro Watanabe and Shingo Natsume and produced by Bones.
The story follows the titular, Space Dandy (Junichi Suwabe/Ian Sinclair) as he travels through space looking for new aliens that he can capture and register for money.
Dandy isn’t alone in this goal as he’s followed by two crew members; Meow (Hiroyuki Yoshino/Joel McDonald) a slacker cat-like alien and QT (Uki Satake/Alison Vikorin) the two’s robot data base/vacuum cleaner.
The three travel across the universe in their ship the Aloha Oe moving from one adventure to another.
The majority of the series revolves around the three hunting for new aliens on different planets while being chases by a number of enemies including the Gogol Empire.
The Empire is lead by Admiral Perry (Banjo Ginga/Kent Williams) who commands his two best soldiers Dr. Gel (Unsho Ishizuka/J. Michael Taturn) and Bea (Kosuke Hatakeyama/Micah Solusod) to find and capture the ship to gain Dandy’s secrets.
What secrets are they after? It’s never really explained.
In fact much of the show goes from one story to another with little explanation given to the audience. When the tidbits of knowledge are needed their delivered by the narrator (Masaaki Yajima/R. Bruce Elliott).
When the three aren’t being harassed by the Gogol Empire or chasing after the undiscovered aliens they can be found a Boobies, a restaurant chain in the world of Space Dandy.
As you might have guess Space Dandy is a show that likes to keep its tongue in its cheek. The three characters end up being placed in situations that range in varying amounts of ridiculousness.
Over the course of the thirteen episode first season the crew search for the Phantom Space Ramen, engage in a large scale space race, reunite a young alien with her family, fight a war over clothing, get stuck in a time loop and become zombies. While some of these episodes are crazy in nature they don’t come close to the three’s brush with a giant boob monster…yes you read that right.
Unlike other Watanabe titles like Cowboy Bebop or Macross Plus, Dandy features little in the way of serious stories as they all focus on over the top Sci Fi ideas.
In fact, each episode seems to be it’s own story with no story elements carrying over from episode to episode. This is made clear at the end of the first episode when the crew all die in an explosion.
Despite the show’s goofy tone there are a number of moments that will leave you believing that the series has a heart, most notably in episode five: A Merry Companion Is A Wagon in Space, Baby.
That being said the majority of the shows humour can be a little one note. Making things worse is that the note just happens to be boobs.
With the characters spending a large chunk of their time in a restaurant that’s not only named after a female body part but designed like one, you can imagine that show is a bit obsessed with breasts.
While these reproductive organs are nice to admire, after a while jokes about them get old and after the fourth episode the jokes end up feeling like their were written by someone in junior high rather than a grown adult.
Despite this, when the show is able to separate itself from the teat (both literally and figuratively) the show finds it’s comedy playing with Sci Fi troupes.
At times Dandy is able to poke fun of many aspects of the anime and other Sci Fi titles with the use of its dim-witted cast of characters.
The constant attacks from the Gogol Empire are lifted from many a title and work well for the show once you figure out that they’re just as incompetent as our main characters are.
At other points the show even branches into Groundhog Day like humour when the crew have to repeat the same day over and over again. The main joke being that they don’t notice. From there Dandy and his crew must fight their strongest enemy to date, a calendar (trust me it makes sense if you watch it).
The show features a lot of these moments and anime fans will probably get a kick or two out of the ridiculous concepts pushed in the later episodes.
For music, the show continues the trend of impressive Watanabe soundtracks. This time the music is done by the Space Dandy band led by a number of people including Watanabe’s frequent collaborator Yoko KANNO.
Where Bebop used Jazz and Blues to help tell its story, Dandy dives straight into Funk music. The use of funky basslines coupled with 70s synths that give the show a retro Science Fiction feel.
Additionally the show’s opening theme. Viva Namida by Yasuyuki Okamura follows the basic idea. The track features a catchy melody and feels a bit like a Japanese version of a Justin Timberlake song. Several other episodes feature original tracks, all of which on par with the opening track.
Animation wise the show tries it’s best to back up the dialogue and music but falls short at times.
The majority of the show features good animation with interesting character and alien designs. That being said during the later episodes the animation can get messy.
During the episode 9 the show’s animation looks choppy almost as if the team who put the episode together had to rush to finish the episode a week before it’s broadcast.
This is continued in episode 11 when the show loses it’s colour. Early in the episode the show sifts to a dull looking grayscale like style. This ends up making the show look lifeless, even more lifeless than the episode about zombies. Making the problem worse are the backgrounds and ships which lack any detail and look more like shapes than anything.
That being said this lack of production could have been done to focus on the final episode of the season. This episode features a fight scene that trumps most of the animation seen during the show before it. Couple that with the push towards a second season and I’m sure Bones ran out of resources quickly.
Overall Space Dandy can be a bit polarizing. Sure the show can be funny, very funny in fact, but not in the way it hopes to be (BOOBIES…get it? It’s the joke).
Dandy seemingly wants to hit the same joke over and over again and have it be funny, however for a most people boobs stop being funny after a while (boobs are serious business, Mister).
Once the show moves away from ogling the female form then it ends up being quite enjoyable. Here’s hoping the next season moves in that direction.
Space Dandy was produced by Bones. The title is licensed by Funimtaion Entertainment (North America) Madman Entertainment (Australasia) and Anime Limited (United Kingdom). A second season is scheduled to start in July.