First Look: Space Dandy

SD11

Anime Original by Bones
USA Broadcast Saturday, 11:30 p.m. EST on Cartoon Network
Simulcast on Funimation, Hulu

Premise

Dandy is a dandy. In Space. Together with his trusty robot sidekick QT, he hunts aliens.

Zigg’s Verdict: To Infinity and Beyond

I absolutely adored this. It crackles with style, energy, good humour and an obvious passion for what’s being put onscreen. As ever with Shinchiro Watanabe shows, there’s a distinctly slick, offbeat look to the show, but it’s also bursting with colour and a pop-art sensibility that makes it stand out from any other anime in years. If you’d told me this was a designer European cartoon I’d have easily believed you. There’s also some great writing work here, alternating nicely between dry, understated asides and the much more wacked out Looney Tunes-esque hijinks that conclude the episode, where Bones also pulls out some stunning (and no doubt ludicrously expensive) animation work. I’m not even that upset by the copious fanservice – it’s so campy and tongue in cheek it’s hard to be too offended.

Big credit also goes to Funimation’s dub work, which is stellar, and in my opinion makes the show a much easier watch. They appear to have taken serious liberties with the script (unfortunately in one case) but it’s in service of some cracking, witty dialogue and some very fine voice work. I suspect there’ll be some pretty major animation fall-off in the next episode, but even so I’m super excited to see where we head next.

sd16

Jel’s Verdict: Dumb Fun Is Fun That Is Dumb… In Space.

I love the classic sci-fi inspired visuals, the bumpin’ soundtrack, and the intentional disregard of any kind of “plot”. I think my favorite joke was the casual mention and subsequent ignoring of some galaxy defining war that happens to be going on while Dandy goes about his business. There’s no question the first episode oozes charisma and style, but man it was really, really dumb. I have little tolerance for the “idiot accidentally bumbles his way through life threatening situations” thing, and while it might be OK for a joke here and there I hope that’s not going to be the resolution of every episode. I might be amused if Dandy and Co. die every week with little or no explanation as to how they survive (which is what I am assuming will happen next week), but Space Dandy will need to assure me it can break free of that formula before it totally wins me over.

Iro’s Verdict: Space Pun + Dandy Pun = SPACE DANDY PUN

Apart from all the boobs and butts, I enjoyed Space Dandy a ton. It’s super dumb but in a fun way, not unlike (or quite like, for that matter) Yozakura Quartet. The second half of the episode where our wacky crew go alien hunting was one of the most incredible pieces of animation I’ve ever seen, and I could only stare in slack-jawed awe at the ridiculousness presented before me. If Space Dandy can keep up the energy and make sure its humor doesn’t become stale (or overly fanservice-oriented), then I will continue to enjoy it.

sd13

Aqua’s Verdict: It’s Space Time!

Space Dandy is a delightfully retro romp through space with colourful visuals, sweet gags, wacky shenanigans and bizarre aliens. The creative designs are a joy to watch, and I especially have to give a shout-out to the fantastic dubwork, backing a witty, snappy script up with strong performances. Alison Viktorin is a particular standout as QT, Dandy’s adorable autotuned robot companion who just can’t seem to catch a break. The animation is wonderful, the antics imaginative, the music catchy and the jokes enjoyable, but then there is the prerequisite fanservice. It is the sort of fanservice some people pass as “parody” in order to silence any and all discussion about it — think Grand Theft Auto V — but it is especially glaring in a world with no other female characters in it. At the very least it does not try to convey some sort of message about empowerment like Kill la Kill does; it just shows that our protagonist is a lecherous idiot. Honestly, this makes the need for a cool lady to slap him around even bigger. That aside, though, it is hard to find fault with Space Dandy. I could hold its intentional lack of depth against it, but for all the creativity going on in this first episode, and Honey not being as dumb as she seems, the crew behind this show at least seems to know that fun is always better when it has some brains on it.

sd17

Gee’s Verdict: Stupid Fun That’s Out of this World

If you were coming into this expecting Cowboy Bebop 2.0, leave now. You are going to be immensely disappointed. That said, if you were paying attention to any of the promotional material, you would know such expectations were frankly imbecilic. Space Dandy is a simply entertaining show, no more, no less. As a fan of the likes of JoJo and Kill la Kill, I have no problems enjoying some straightforward dumb fun shows. Somehow, Space Dandy manages to bring out both the dumb part and the fun part in spades, creating a first impression that starts off weak, but left me hyped and excited for more. As someone who tuned in for the Toonami premier, there was a lot of great elements working in Space Dandy’s favor. Excellent dubbed voice work, a great soundtrack, and some truly stellar visuals that had my jaw on the floor. Seriously, I haven’t seen anime this visually impressive since the likes of Redline. Still, it isn’t a perfect introduction. The first half of the premier was honestly cringe worthy, as Dandy’s lecherous behavior and the unfunny fanservice failed to generate much excitement. Luckily, the second half was more true to my expectations of the show as a wondeful crazy romp through a psychedelic sci-fi universe. If Space Dandy can keep emphasizing the crazy awesome space adventures, I’ll have my new favorite show to watch this Winter.

sd15

Marlin’s Verdict: A Dandy Good Time

Despite a disappointing amount of fanservice, I am all hyped up for Space Dandy after this episode. I’ve always been a fan of absurd humor, and 4th wall breaking is the right kind of absurdity that I love. Considering the narrator and the production team, I was getting a lot of Sgt. Frog vibes, and that is one of my favorite gag comedies of all time. The dub is an absolutely stellar production. Dandy captures that perfect Zap Brannigan-esque goofy machismo I was hoping for from the lead, and the two sidekicks were a lot of fun to hear as well. I particularly liked the little synth harmony they gave the robot, as it worked perfectly to accentuate his age.

You can tell Bones had been missing Full Metal Alchemist in that last half. The amount of earth breaking into squares scene would do any alchemy fight proud, and was really fun to watch. The action was amazing, and while I know they probably won’t be able to keep that quality up all season, it’s a nice tease to show what might be in store when things get interesting. As a biologist, I always get disappointed when aliens in fiction turn out to be just pallet swapped humans. While the restaurant showed there are plenty of those, it also showcased the fantastic diversity in bodies and limbs that the design team has come up with, and I can’t wait to see more.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.