Episode **: I Can’t Write a Review with Stale Words, Baby
Instead of talking about just the 2nd half or rather Season 2 I thought it’d be better to discuss this in its entirety: Episodes 1 through 26, we are finally at the end [for now] one that has been a stupendous ride. Now this is an anime that takes risks, one that says screw it with conventions; it is a series that takes a concept only to reintroduce it in an entirely obscure way! This sci-fi adventure comedy is absolutely perfect, and if I had to nitpick something it would be that we did not get enough scenes of the Boobies restaurants or even more of Admiral Perry. Aside from that, Space Dandy has a been monumental anime series in the genre of space opera.
Wacky, fun, weird, and downright hilarious narratives that Dandy is thrown into with tales of an alien hunter and his companions. This series very much could have ended on episode 14 as it returned the world to a somewhat rightful place but there was a catch– an entirely different kind of Dandy and crew! A show that always seems to create loose ends yet explain them in future episodes.
Space Dandy is a visual feast and the stories were so eclectic– Dandy decides to become a racer, catch a big fish, sing in a high-school built on musicals, gets captured by giant talking plants, meets aliens that have no reflection only to fall in love with a woman who is the essence of a planet, joins a rock group with the leader of the Jaicro Empire, travels through a 2-dimensional world and fought off a giant omnivorous booby monster. It took on tons of challenges by being varied, where its content was boundless in the people on screen, and animation designs it took ideas and ran with them with just about every episode delivering amazing results!
Shinichiro Watanabe [General Director] oversees the project with various animators, episode directors, scenario writers and musical artists: what a clever idea! So many influences that tackle each story in creating an overwhelming universal science fiction comedy series. There were a ton of big names in the industry working on this huge project that Watanabe wanted to tell.
Masaaki Yuasa one of my favorite directors in the business helmed Episode 16 that tells the story of a talking carp and his hardships to get back home with the help of Dandy and his misfit companions! This was one of the most unusual tales of Dandy that we had as it shifted the world that Shingo Natsume [Director] and Watanabe built up with a dose of Yuasa’s perspective and storytelling. As hilarious as these episodes have been, one that definitely stands out is the rock and roll adventure that Dandy experiences with his galactic buddy Johnny. Every idea of starting a rock band would’ve have been thrown in, and Sayo Yamamoto wrote a powerful piece about how much music can sway human emotions even!
One of the more surprising directors of the 2nd half had to be Yasuhiro Nakura: this is where Dandy experiences an other-worldy dimension caught up between life and death and needs to get out of the planet Limbo! Nakura is not only a director but an animator as well, as he was the one who drew the characters for Osamu Tezuka’s Metropolis. A fantastic cyberpunk drama film about self-discovery and corruption and with an episode of Space Dandy about the contemplation of death it was nice to have a long-time director of this caliber put to good use in this. We also had some extremely talented animators on this episode as well– Kazumi Inadome of UN-GO’s character designs and Chikashi Kubota of Shikabane Hime on top of the original character designer of the show Yoshiyuki Ito. Incredible stuff! These were just a few of the staff members behind the production of Space Dandy, but one aspect I’ve neglected to mention more notably in my previous posts are the composers that bring these tales to life!
After reading quite a few staff interviews and anime panel discussions Watanabe and his team sought out a lot of people for this project that some even turned down: one of them being Hideaki Anno [director of Neon Genesis Evangelion]. It’s a shame really, because he could have given us a wildly produced philosophical turn to the many worlds of Dandy.
Without ado I want to talk about the style of music that the creators chose for this. KenKen and Mountain Mocha Kilimanjaro provided a lot of the jazz scores incorporated into Space Dandy, I can definitely see an influence by Yoko Kanno as she has worked with Watanabe on numerous works including Zankyou no Terror and Sakamichi no Apollon. Mabanua wrote some pieces to Sakamichi no Apollon and there is one track especially that I can hear sounds reminiscent of the late Nujabes [musical composer of Samurai Champloo] with their musical style!
LUVRAW&BTB provided one of the best songs out of the entire season with I’m Losing You [featured in Episode 23]. Without the use of these amazing artists and many more I felt that Space Dandy would not have been as energetically meaningful as it was: episodes that immersed you into the varied inhabitants of oddly designed planets that tied together in developing fantastic space adventures.
There are a few other shows I can think of that had a similar effect on me: Mushishi, Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Trigun and Master Keaton. Obviously, as you can tell some of the works listed here are Watanabe projects as he has this creative vision at delivering such entertaining series that push the limits outside of the box. Take the traditional anime of today, shows like Ben-To, Highschool DxD, Nisekoi, heck even Free! might look really good in terms of animation but lack substance. Fan-service that most of the time will overwhelm a story with struggling characters that are often change emotionally for the sake of the plot resulting in sometimes weak endings. I’m actually rather disappointed in the state of the anime industry, but every season we get a few gems and Space Dandy is one of them.
I would highly recommend a first-time watcher of Japanese anime to this series, that is if you can handle the occasional perverse tongue in cheek humor. Space Dandy has single-handedly toppled all of Watanabe’s previous works! [even Zankyou no Terror] Week after week this anime series just worked flawlessly– it made me laugh, cry, and rooting for Dandy and his friends whether their decisions were in the right or not!
It ranks as my #1 best anime series of all time beating Cowboy Bebop by a hair. A spiritual successor to a very fundamental show that generated a success in gathering new fans worldwide. This has been a wonderful sci-fi series that includes many Bebop homages from Dr. Gel looking like Jet, the bird in the final episode, the fridge that has shown up numerous times, Dandy’s line in the Lovers are Trendy episode where he says bang. I’m sure there are some that I’ve missed out on as there had been tons of other references as well including: Eureka Seven, Hagane no Renkinjitsushi, Google, Chuck Norris, and the reveal of Admiral Perry.
Dandy acquires a large amount of pionium and episode after episode they seem to foreshadow the fact that he’s split himself up into different universes and timelines. Never would have thought that this show would have utilized the multiverse theory in such detail like it did in subtle fashion adding elements of the real heart of this story inside of all these random episodes where Dandy turns into a zombie, dies numerous times either from getting blown up, being replaced by another version of himself, dancing until the world explodes, and turning down god for boobies.
Which moves to my next point as to why this show is so clever it has unbelievable dialogue. It’s great that many viewers have been given the chance to see this show [that is the first of its kind I might add] to premiere a show in English prior to its Japanese airing. There are quite a few lines throughout that remain subtitled in English, as they are kept intact in a native tongue in order to express the level of realism that this show has captured with its diverse worlds and creative aliens. Nonetheless, one part of this show that is much more humorous than the Japanese is how well the English is came through in Dandy and the large cast he encountered on his various adventures. Having learned from the downfall that Cowboy Bebop had in its initial broadcast run back in 1997, it feels as though Shinichiro Watanabe devoted this animated work to the Western fans of anime.
With a wide range of voice actors, episode directors and animators Space Dandy was able to pay homage to many science fiction films and novels of the past. Without a doubt this was the best anime of the year and one series that should not be missed, that is to say that this is as Dandy as any show can get!
OVERALL IMPRESSION: 99/100
If you like this you might also enjoy:
– Cowboy Bebop
– Outlaw Star
– Space Adventure Cobra