Anime: Space Dandy (Complete Series)
Released By: Funimation
Release Date: October 24, 2017
Retail Price: $69.98
“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 bizarre new creatures both friendly and not. These are the spectacular adventures of Space Dandy and his brave space crew in space.”
The introduction alone (played in every episode of the space themed series) is enough to foreshadow at the wacky premise and over the top concept of a series that is undoubtedly unique. The series is created by Shinichiro Watanabe, the brilliant mind behind some of the greatest anime series of all time including Cowboy Bebop, Terror In Resonance, Kids On The Slope and Samurai Champloo. Watanabe is generally known for his group dynamics and efficient grasp at emotional depth, but Space Dandy helps Watanabe depart from his other series with something that is mostly a lot lighter in terms of style and narrative.
If you look back at Watanabe’s previous work (my personal favorite for example) with Cowboy Bebop, it had a gripping element entwined with a real life drama. Space Dandy on the other hand finds solace in the aloof and outlandish humor of life by catering towards a episodic comedy. If anything, it could be said that it is a retelling of the space bounty hunter series from another universe with a cartoonish ambiance opposed to a grimmer galaxy we were familiar with. Despite the comparison to a carefree humorous approach - Space Dandy does find ways to incorporate more complex thematic moments to remind us of Watanabe’s sheer talent.
Space Dandy tells the tale of dandy, an alien bounty hunter who works (hard-ish) to accumulate whatever money he can to live which mostly entails trips to a restaurant called BooBies that’s a shout-out to Hooters. The waitresses are certain to wear very little, and the patrons are sure to be noticeably ogling over the bikini clad women that bring in the business. In addition to Dandy, we have Meow who is essentially an alien cat that speaks fluent English alongside a robot named QT that takes the appearance of a friendly robot that brings a childlike persona to the peculiar space crew. We primarily follow those particular three, but that doesn’t mean the series is short of other characters - because there are plenty to love. For a majority of the episodic structure, Space Dandy introduces side characters from youthful roles to elderly ramen shop owner with a tear jerking conclusion. The series offers constant reminders that nobody can write anime characters of any genre like Watanabe - I would trust him to do virtually anything.
After watching the series in its entirety, Dandy is a surprising protagonist to a series with a lot of heart. You see him as this certain archetype initially, just throwing out off the cuff remarks about his desires towards women - but something changes as you see the compassion behind the facade. Dandy is definitely a character who acts off impulse, but that impulse sometimes provides clarity that when the chips are down, he is a powerfully written figure for the series. One story that really depicted him with more to offer than that sex-driven ego was his relationship with Scarlet and even though it was another short story I couldn’t help but feel so invested in what could come if these plots were expanded upon. If Space Dandy can evoke the emotions behind love, loss, familial bonds and one’s existence on top of generally being a “comedy” than you know you’ve succeeded in developing a worthwhile series.
At first glance, Space Dandy offers bright visuals and an otherworldly depiction but when you watch various episodes with different inspirations you can see the artistic beauty that it contains. By throwing characters into this larger than life universe, you get so much potential to create anything your heart desires as an artist. That opportunity was not lost on the creators, by making two entire seasons that avoid any issue of repetition or laziness - keeping it fresh with all the magic of a Watanabe series in every fraction of the series makeup.
Overall Score: 8.5/10
Aedan’s Final Thoughts:
- Another masterpiece by Watanabe, now we just need a Bebop follow up.
- There still needs to be this Space Dandy movie that has been discussed.
- I can’t wait to see what Watanabe does next because this just proves he still is a creative force of nature.