Episode 1 – Live With the Flow, Baby
Life is full of tough questions – Did Han shoot first? What is this lump on my arm? Did I let the cat out? Why am I asking so many questions? But these are all trivial matters. Space Dandy is a series masterfully crafted to answer all the big questions that haunt humanity and it started off by bursting into sight in a fiery blaze, asking the most groundbreaking philosophical question of all… Boobs or butts?
Oh, how I have waited for this anime. Space Dandy has arrived and it is finally time for us to see if the latest diamond in Shinichiro Watanabe’s crown will glisten like the rest, or pale in comparison. What I can tell you for sure is that it is definitely something a little different. To give a little bit of synopsis to those reading this who haven’t been following the hype, Space Dandy is a sci-fi/comedy anime following the misadventures of the, “Galaxy-wide Alien Hunter,” Space Dandy. Episode 1 introduces Dandy and his adorable robot companion QT as they ‘hunt aliens’ inside a breastaurant called Boobies and meet a strange feline alien that they so aptly call Meow. One small distortion of time and space later and they find themselves on a strange planet full of huge, “harmless,” creatures that spend the next 5 minutes nearly killing them in a menagerie of different ways. That is until Dandy remembers his secret weapon and gets QT to activate it, blowing up his ship, the whole planet, and him and his crew along with it. A title card reads, “THE END,” and we are left to wonder what the hell just happened, and why we are suddenly sweating and sporting a serious extension from the waist.
Space Dandy [speɪs dandi]
A dandy… in space
Yes, that is all we are told about our valiant hero Mr S Dandy. He is simply a flamboyant guy in space that hunts unknown aliens with his magnificently overstated hairdo. Though, judging by his outdated equipment, his profits aren’t reinvested in his little business, but rather into hair gel, breastaurants, and the beautiful women that come with them. He is literally Han Solo, dumped into the Gintama world and then launched into space with nothing but his blaster, a fabulous white jump suit and a narrator that doesn’t give a care in the world for the sanctity of the fourth wall. Simply put, he is amazing.
What was nowhere near as strong, but everywhere near as crazy as the Space Dandy himself, was the setup which I felt floundered a little under the weight of the madness that the show was trying to blast into our retinas. If the objective of this show is to become Japan’s first ‘extreme slice of life’ anime then its setup was brilliant, introducing all the characters, throwing in a few laughs, and even squeezing in some space and time distortion for good measure. However, if this show actually means to tell a story, which in all honesty I wouldn’t mind if it avoided in favor of the extreme slice of life idea, then the next few episodes need to do a really good job of establishing a goal or motive because as it stands I have no idea what’s going on.
Luckily, what it lacked in plot it made up for in everything else. I found the artwork vibrant, colourful and for the most part the animation was fluid if not of varying quality. Complimenting the animation perfectly was the wonderful sound design that blew me away in a way that I haven’t felt since Cowboy Bebop. That comparison is mostly drawn from the funky jazz slap bass that thundered throughout the fight scenes. Somewhere between that music and the enormity of everything erupting on screen I was left in a state of pure ecstasy. If Kill la Kill is the ridiculously over-the-top anime of the season, then Space Dandy is its older cousin that gets inappropriately drunk at a wedding and tries to make out with the bride.
Take none of this as a bad thing though. Those who were expecting Bebop’s spiritual successor will be crying tears of blood within seconds of the title card, but any hope of this being remotely like Bebop was misplaced the second that the title was announced. I went into this anime expecting … well … a dandy in space and if there is one thing that I certainly got it was exactly that. Will this anime live up to the expectations set by its creators? Maybe. It is not ever going to be as monumental and perfect as Bebop and it won’t invoke the same kind of emotion as Sakamichi no Apollon; that much is a fact. Will it be a masterpiece in its own right though? Well, it has made a first impression that I won’t soon forget so let’s see what it can do.
If you’re looking for enjoyment and nothing more than that then this is the anime to follow this season. It has explosions, beautiful women, an idiot masculine hero, and it is so silly that the figurehead on the villain’s spaceship is literally the Statue of Liberty choking on a ballgag. It’s a young boy’s power fantasy cranked up to 11 and fronted by a man with more bravado than brains. Tacky and stupid? Maybe. Hilarious and mind-blowingly awesome? You bet your ass it is. Stay tuned!
Space Dandy is simulcasting in both subbed and dubbed formats and can be found airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami block or streaming on FUNimation in the US. UK viewers can catch it streaming on Wakanim. And also on Madman with new episodes – both subbed and dubbed – will go up on the Madman Screening Room each Monday, at 1am AEDT.
For more impressions of winter’s best and worst, head over to our Anime Impressions page.
More Space Dandy Impressions will be coming in upcoming weeks, check them out HERE.