- Titles: Space☆Dandy
- Genre: Comedy, science fiction, action, comedy again!
- Episodes: 13 + 13
- Studio: bones
Space Dandy is a Dandy guy…in Space. That joke made me laugh every single time so you can imagine what type of review you are in for. Or can you???
Space Dandy is a “fearless” “intrepid” alien hunter who tracks down rare unregistered species with the help of his “trusted” crew. The “technological wonder” QB and the “marvellous” Betelgeusian Mew. Or at least he tries to. Turns out rare unregistered aliens can be a bit hard to track down for some reason. But that would never stop “daring” adventurers such as the crew of the Aloha Oy and you should join them!
I wonder if this is a long enough synopsis. I’m not going to know until I format my post. It has to at least span the height of the key visual. I guess if it isn’t long enough I can always just blabber on for another paragraph. I just have to remember to take this part out.
For those of you who have not watched Space Dandy, the show might prove to be a bit of a challenge to describe. Both on the production side and on the story side. Space Dandy is a very episodic series where each episode has little in common with the next one, except for the characters. And that actually extends to animation and art styles. A very exciting feature for me.
Honestly, Space Dandy is a very well-made anime and just deeply interesting on the production side. There are episodes that I remember just staring at mesmerized. Looking through the series is a rollercoaster of images and colours and a little bit of a walk down memory lane for animation buffs. It’s worth a look just on that level. I’m going to try to give you an idea through the screencaps but you really need to see it for yourself to understand.
I would say the second season is more creative on the production side. Maybe they had a better budget the second time around.
But don’t think that sound design wasn’t carefully thought out as well. It was. It’s not as striking ink my opinion but it also had some great moments. And the voice cast is great in both languages actually. I tend to enjoy Japanese voice casts a bit more by default but I will say one thing for the English version, I thought the obvious auto-tune on QT’s voice was brilliant. It’s such a great way to simulate a robot voice. Your mileage may vary on this, a lot of fans seem to have hated it but it made me happy each time I heard it.
Story & Characters
Like I just mentioned, Space Dandy is a completely episodic anime. In fact, one episode regularly ends in a way that would completely change the course of the season but then everything is back to normal without explanation as soon as the next episode starts. There’s a very loose canon through the series and you can’t take anything at face value or too seriously.
However, there is still connective tissue between the episodes. For one, the three main characters are always true to themselves. They are all variations of comedic relief characters but they have strong personalities which help give the show a sense of identity. There are even a few recurring characters that we get to know along the way.
Moreover, Space Dandy is a comedy. A very silly one. And another thing that ties everything together is the humour. There’s a lot of half-thought-out blue humour, Dandy talking about women’s assets overly seriously, that sort of thing but when you scratch beneath the tawdry surface you see that the core of it is actually absurdist and fairly bleak humour that is way more common in British series than Japanese animations. There’s a bit of a bit to it. For me, it didn’t always land.
You see, the completely episodic nature of the show is a bit of a double-edged sword. It allowed the series to explore elements both in storytelling and production that would not have been possible with a stricter adhesion to continuity but it also made the end product both unpredictable and to me, uneven. There were episodes that I thought were brilliant, in both seasons. I really enjoyed the first time Dandy met a little alien girl that could put people’s consciousness in dolls, or when we met Mew’s family, both were heartwarming and surprisingly subtle. I loved the high school musical episode, the one where they kept meeting alternate versions of themselves from other universes, the one with the shapeshifting alien, the zombies baby! And when Dandy has to be a pretend boyfriend to Scarlet. I think Dandy looks great in a pink shirt! But there were also a ton of episodes that hardly made an impression on me or that I only liked one aspect of.
There’s an episode where Dandy is trying to fish up a legendary alien fish. The episode looks gorgeous. One of my favourites on the production side. And it’s not bad as far as the story goes but I probably would have forgotten it if it wasn’t for the glorious images. There’s this episode with a race of sentient books who comb the universe for knowledge and experience. I love the idea of it but the episode itself kinda bored me. I just couldn’t get into it. And then there’s a ton of episodes that were fine and just sort of meld together in my memory.
The way I see it, there are two ways it can go from here. With time, I will either slowly forget the more middle-of-the-road episodes and remember the series as a whole on the strength of those outstanding ones making it a great anime in my mind or the lustre of the great episode will fade and the entire show will settle as an ok series in my memories. Considering I’m already starting to think back on it more positively, I think the former is more likely. I’m an optimist at heart!
I can’t tell for sure but I’m almost positive that binging the series like I did was a great disservice to the show. Because of how dissonant the episodes are, I think each is likely best enjoyed in isolation and I found that diminishing returns were very likely if I watched more than a couple of episodes in a row. It’s not like you need to wait a week between episodes but I would try to watch an entire season in one sitting. I don’t think that’s how the show was conceived to be enjoyed. It really is more fun to discover each new adventure as its own thing.
This said, I also think that there is a lot to like in Space Dandy. For my more sensitive readers, those that have a tough time with crass humour and low-hanging fruit, it might be a bit difficult to get into. But for everyone else, there’s something to be enjoyed about Space Dandy.
You might like this anime if:
You enjoy classic goofball comedies and dandy guys…in Space!
My favourite character:
This is actually very difficult. I really like QT and Scarlet. I also have a special place for Freckles, the girls from the musical
- Every time there’s a 4th wall break – take a sip
- Every time Dandy tries to turn in an unknown alien – take a sip
- Every time boobs – just boobs
- Every time we see robot abuse – oh no!
- Every time we see the Aloha Oe decal – take a sip
- Every time everything goes back to normal with no explanation – phewww
- Every time Dandy does something decent – make sure you saw that right
- Every time the Aloha Oe needs repairs – take a sip
- Every time Dandy doesn’t sweat the small stuff – relax
- Every time anyone uses a wrist translator – take a sip
- Every time we see Dr. Gel – get nervous
- Every time you spot a reference to another anime – congratulations!
- Every time Dandy surfs – take a sip
- Every time a planet gets destroyed – oh my!
- Every time there’s a fish – get a snack!
I save all my screencaps on my Pinterest and you can find more there if you are interested. But I still like to show you a few in the post. If you’re like me, screencaps are something that really helps you decide to watch an anime or not.