The universe is a mysterious and strange place, full of even stranger and more mysterious aliens. Dandy's job is to hunt down unclassified aliens and register them for a reward. It sounds easy enough, but something weird always seems to happen along the way, like chance meetings with zombies, mystical ramen chefs, and adorable orphans. Hunting down aliens may not be easy, but it's definitely never boring.
With the help of his sidekicks, the adorable robot vacuum QT and cat-like alien Meow, and his slightly-used ship the Aloha Oe, Dandy roams the galaxy searching for new alien species. What he usually finds, however, is adventure, danger, and romance, and no two journeys (or universes) are ever the same. This is Space☆Dandy, baby!
Space☆Dandy reunites a number of lead production staff members from Cowboy Bebop, including producer Masahiko Minami and director Shinichiro Watanabe. Its production involved as many as 70 animation creators and 20 musical artists as collaborators, with Watanabe insisting that artists could only use pre-1984 musical styles. Although character designer Yoshiyuki Itou is credited as an animation director, his designs were not standardized across the series, allowing for individual animators to express their style.
You don’t understand how badly I want to like Space Dandy. The fantastic visuals, Dandy as a character, some of the great ideas that go into the episodes…there’s so much going on that could make for great entertainment…
But instead, Space Dandy has one good episode and is mired by tons of flat humor, a whole load of boring to bad episodes, and overusing Boobies as a humor device.
1.) Great Animation and Soundtrack- Seriously, Space Dandy looks sexy as hell. From the retro character designs to the whacky aliens to the trippy worlds, Space Dandy is a great acid trip. Many episodes have a unique
style from the others. The plant episode and the library episode did a good job of providing a unique enough experience to be memorable as far as the animation is concerned, though flat lined in every other department. The soundtrack is also brilliant, with tons of the flair and flavor we can expect from the people who brought us Bebop and Samurai Champloo.
2.) Some Good Ideas- Some of the episodes contained good ideas that weren’t capitalized on, or would have been awesome if they were fleshed out. Space Dandy is definitely smart somewhere, but the execution is so poor and the episodes so devoid of any of the humor or entertainment that it is supposed to provide. The references to classic sci-fi tropes and movies are great nods to the classics Dandy attempts to emulate, and those occasionally provide humor, but, for the most part, episodes as a whole fall apart.
3.) That One Good Episode- The only good episode in the series is the one that makes fun of Disney’s copyright laws and also has one of the best space races I’ve ever seen. This is episode seven; an episode that I will think of anytime anyone mentions Space Dandy. It’s a fantastic episode. Watch it and avoid the rest. The rest sucks.
1.) Uninteresting and Unfunny Characters- The first episode Dandy is a pretty cool character and you think, “Damn, they’re gonna do some awesome things with him”. But they never do. His character is as stagnant as the rest of the series and he’s never particularly funny. Most of the jokes surrounding him are way too juvenile and overused to elicit even a chuckle. Boobies was funny the first time, but by the twelfth episode, it’s downright annoying. And this lack of comedy can be found in QT, whose autotuned voice makes sense, but isn’t a great design choice in the long run. Meow is also uninteresting as a character.
And then there’s a bad guy, Commodore Perry, who chases them around for some reason or other. The character’s just don’t provide anything worth mentioning to the table.
2.) Decent Enough Plot to Work With, Uninteresting Execution- You see me use the word “uninteresting” a lot because that about sums up Space Dandy. The setup, Dandy is searching for never before seen aliens in order to obtain a bounty, is pretty cool. But the execution is so boring. He goes to a planet where two aliens fight over the ultimate clothing. He returns a lost library book. There’s an alien that shape shifts, there’s a plant planet. The animation and style for every one of these episodes is fantastic and the still shots are goddam beautiful but I can’t watch a comedy anime for its formalism. And maybe if this anime were not a comedy I would rate it higher, but that’s what it wants to be, and that’s what I’ll treat it as.
3.) So Much Wasted Potential, Baby- What I ultimately hate this anime for is wasting so much potential. I can’t emphasize enough the amount of good ideas that went into Space Dandy that are wasted by poor writing, directing, and characters. I can see where this could be funny, and it does provide the occasional chuckle, but it’s so much better taken as abstract sci-fi than a comedy. Maybe if you were high this show would work, but as it stands, Space Dandy is just poor.
Sigh. Space Dandy, Space Dandy, Space Dandy. Wasted potential central. It feels so much like Kids on the Slope, another anime made by director Shinichiro Watanabe. It is set up so well, but fails in every way except animation and music. After Cowboy Bebop, I think Watanabe decided to go style over substance, which tends not to work for me, especially in a comedy series. As I said, if this had been a formalistic sci-fi anime (with occasional comedy elements), it would have worked better. But as a comedy, it fails miserably. It’s unfunny, has terrible characters, and is begging for a better team to handle it.
For all the uninspired rubbish that each season seems to be permeated by, Space Dandy represents a glimmer of hope. It may not have a great story or well-developed characters, and while the excessive fanservice can feel a bit immature, it is one of very few anime that dare to be different from the usual harem or action series. It also happens to be a whole load of fun... provided you don't mind seeing T&A every sixty seconds.
Space Dandy is perhaps most recognisable for being Shinichiro Watanabe's most recent project. There is a noticeable Cowboy Bebop influence here, but at the same time it
feels like the antithesis of what Bebop represents. Space Dandy is all sorts silly and zany. There never seems to be a moment where the show takes itself seriously, and even when it appears to, there is usually some joke waiting at the end. There are no deep messages to be extracted from the episodes. It never aims to be anything more than simple fun-- and it works for that very reason.
The story follows the adventures of space greaser Dandy, a cat-like creature named... 'Meow', and the ship's cleaning robot, QT. The three spend their days lazing about while occasionally hunting for rare aliens to fetch them a nice price on market. They are incredibly inept at their job, lacking in any form of intelligence, and everything, always, goes terribly wrong in some way or another.
Space Dandy follows an episodic format, although I don't believe the term is entirely appropriate as 'episodic' implies continuity in some form. There is absolutely no continuity in Space Dandy. Zero. The main characters might die at the end of an episode and then it will casually roll the credits before showing them alive and healthy in the next episode. The character development is essentially nil as a result. Dandy and the rest aren't characters that you will ever find yourself emotionally attached to, but that's actually okay. Focusing solely on the comedy is what allows it to work. Drama would never be able to exist in the bizarre world of Space Dandy- at least not without seeming entirely out-of-place. Even deus ex machina (and they are aplenty) are intentionally used for comedic purposes. The show just doesn't give a damn about being taken seriously.
Everything about Space Dandy oozes charm. The setting is reminiscent of a 1950's vision of the future, with ray guns, greaser slang and antiquated technology. The episodes themselves deal with every prominent sci-fi trope (time loops, wormholes, zombies, sentient AI) in a fun manner. There is always something different each episode, though some are certainly much weaker than others. A few of them are honestly dull enough to put the viewer to sleep, while others, like the episode involving Meow's family, are nothing short of greatness. There's unfortunately no consistency to the quality of the episodes- an issue that seems to be common in episodic comedies.
The shameless fanservice is the show's one major flaw. There's nothing wrong with an adult character having an interest in women (or more specifically, boobs), but Dandy's obsession verges from perversion to outright debauchery. An equivalent to Hooters, named "Boobies" in the show (really!) is frequently present. Boobies this, Boobies that. Dandy's entire reason for existence is to go to Boobies and ogle all the big-breasted blondes that walk about. Every time he visits, there are close-up cleavage or ass-shots of the girls. When he is not there, he hits on every female in sight; human or alien, it doesn't matter to him. There is no problem with shows that are mature enough to embrace sexuality as a normal part of human nature, but this maturity is nowhere to be seen in Space Dandy. Its obsession with women resembles a starving 12-year-old who just reached puberty rather than something of a grown adult. The fanservice has its place, but there is no reason for it to exist to this extent. It's just uncomfortable.
Space Dandy has some of the best art seen in a television anime for years. The first episode looks absolutely stellar, on-par with big-budget series such as Shingeki no Kyojin and not too far behind films such as Redline. The animation does take a dip in the later episodes but its quality always remains well above the average anime. Space Dandy gives a great deal of attention to its action scenes by animating them in full. Most anime studios decide to take the shortcut approach with panning shots (or just plain bad animation), which makes Space Dandy's visuals all the more commendable. The animators could have taken the lazy way out, but they did not.
The sound is average; nothing noteworthy. Most scenes are accompanied by ambient sounds in order to convey a distinct sci-fi atmosphere. A few scenes, like the battle between QT and a giant robot, and Dandy taking care of an alien child, have more noticeable music, but these moments are all too rare. The opening track is much more interesting, performed by what I would describe as "Japanese Bloc Party". It encapsulates the quirky charm of the series.
If you have ever found yourself bored by the homogeneity of the anime industry, or simply want to watch something fun and silly, Space Dandy is an anime definitely deserving of your time. There's an undeniable sense of childishness to the fanservice, and sure, not every episode is a massive joy to watch, but there is rarely a moment that makes you wish you were watching something else instead. It dared to be different and it succeeded. If only more anime took from Space Dandy's example.
Space Dandy has been described as a sort of testing ground for directors - a large number of different directors, most of whom are accomplished, have been called in to create their own episodes utilizing the flexible setting of the show, resulting in Space Dandy being the most creative show I have seen at its peaks. Unfourtunately, in every experiment there is bound to be a few failures, and this is undoubtedly not a very consistent series.
Being a very experimental anime, each episode (this is an episodic anime in case you weren't clear) is unique and quirky, but each and every one of them have
a common factor - they are amazing fun. Comedy is the main point of Space Dandy, and it has been handled exteremely well throughout the series. This might not seem to be the case at first (the show opens with boob jokes), but some of the jokes here are really unique, and the delivery is often top notch. I will not go into much detail in order to avoid spoilers, but in my opinion the first few episodes really aren't that good and in my opinion the weakest point of the series, so if you find yourself not liking the show much I urge you to continue to give it a chance - it is definitely worth it.
A very common complain with the show is its lack of an overall plot. I personally don't find any problem with this, and think that some of the greatest shows have been like that. (Mushishi being my best example) Whilst there have been hints that there is something bigger at play, whether it will evolve into something is not certain. So if you are one of those who doesn't like shows which don't have a strong overall plot, this might not be the show for you.
The characters are, simply put, outstanding. Whilst Dandy might seem annoying at first with all of his boob jokes and stuff like that, he is undoubtedly a character that will simply win you over throughout the course of the series with his over the top, contagious stupidity and antics. There is also sufficient development in the series despite it simply being episodic, and it weaves the backstories of the characters very well into its episodes. Meow's (episode 10) was done particularly well in my opinion. And QT is simply hilarious.
The visuals pretty good, and certain episodes do take on certain different (wierd) art styles. I think that they are used pretty well and I love how they are used to tell the story. Episode 11 springs to mind as one which used a very interesting art style to tell a even more interesting story, and I think the show is capable of utilizing creative visuals at times to help reinforce the plot.
Amazing OP and ED, fitting use of music in scenes. I have little experience in music so I won't comment much on it, but I felt that the overall usage of sound was very effective in my viewing of the anime. Loved the voice acting (note that I am watching the jap version of the show so I don't know how the dub sounds) and feel that it fits perfectly to every character.
Overall, Space Dandy is hilarious, amazing, and overall a great pleasure to watch. It does start off with some weak episodes, but when it gets going, the stories are simply some of the best. Looking forward to when it returns after the break (its split cour!), and hopefully it continues to pump out these amazing episodes, and maybe even connect the dots and reveal that an overall plot (Not really neccessary, but I think it would be cool!) Highly recommended by me, with an overall score of 9/10.
I remember when I reached the end of the 3rd episode of Space Dandy. I was fairly pleased with the show. It was the kind of enjoyable humor that you can sit back, watch and turn your brain off for a half hour as you watch the antics of Space Dandy and his brave space crew...in space.
Once I watched the 4th episode "Sometime you can't live with dying, baby" that I knew I was in for something different. A majority of the episode was about the crew after they became zombies and the story was progressed via narration. While it wasn't the same goofy humor
that I had loved about the first 3 episodes it was still pretty funny, but what I really appreciated was how the creators were willing to try something different.
The desire to challenge the status quo set the standard for the following nine episodes. Not content to just throw out something we had seen before, Space Dandy challenged the anime comedy genre with solid characters, a fun soundtrack, fantastic art direction, and a vast array of episodes that ranged from hilariously nonsensical (A Race in Space Is Dangerous, Baby and Nobody Knows the Chameleon Alien, Baby) to character dramas reminiscent of director Shinichiro Watanabe's earlier show Cowboy Bebop (A Merry Companion Is a Wagon in Space, Baby and Even Vacuum Cleaners Fall in Love, Baby) to beautifully artistic (Plants Are Living Things, Too, Baby and I'm Never Remembering You, Baby).
I was always excited to watch the next episode to see what new and exciting thing the creators would attempt to do in the show. Granted, there were several episodes that ended up being rather lackluster, but you certainly can't fault the creators for trying. However, the low points are few and far between when compared to the high quality of the rest of the series. All in all I would highly recommend Space Dandy to any anime fan.
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