In yet another hare-brained get-rich-quick scheme, Dandy embarks on a fishing expedition to catch the legendary Munagi
Space Dandy has been on a run of high-concept episodes recently, so while what we get here is a little bit less ambitious than what’s come before, it’s difficult to begrudge that too much. Indeed, it’s actually rather relaxing. What gets served up this week is a delightfully throwaway romp, but one which uses the show’s endless palette of new planets and new civilizations to daub a simple story in interesting colours.
It’s interesting too that the show once again takes pains to sideline Meow and QT for the most part, leaving this as another heavily Dandy-centric episode. It’s probably pretty obvious at this point, but Dandy himself actually isn’t much of a character – he’s got a few recurring traits (lechery, incompetence, self-inflation) – but he’s otherwise pretty malleable, with his disposition, attitude and even his basic objectives tending to swing all over the shop. Thing is though, that’s almost certainly a deliberate strategy rather than poor writing. Many of the show’s best episodes have made hay by making Dandy an everyman, an outsider looking in on a weird thing he’s somehow become a part of. That’s the same dynamic he adopts here, and the writing responds by rounding off his rough edges and making him a more down to earth, recognisably human figure. Sure, he’s still pissed off by the cranky old man, but the patient, diligent fisherman who’s good with kids is a world a way from the flashy sexist razzmatazz he was last week, despite the fact they share some traits. It’s another example of how BONES and the production team are effectively shaping all factors of the story on an-episode-by episode basis.
What (mostly) eliminating Meow and QT, and toning down Dandy, does is give the episode a much more quaint, relaxed feel. While watching we noted the similarities to works by Studio Ghibli, as well as some of the later era Legend of Zelda games. The rustic, pre-industrial society, the quirky tribal decor and the relaxed pacing and low stakes (essentially the only thing on the line is a fish, pun not intended) mean that this is a very small scale episode of Dandy, one which emphasises different strengths than usual. The rapport between Dandy and Erssime is delightful in its innocent simplicity and his eventual reconciliation with L’Delise might be predictable, but it’s warm and friendly sort of predictable. All in all, Space Dandy finds a lot to like in coming back to earth for a little while.
- Of course, no writing can entirely stop weirdness from permeating Space Dandy. The comet migration is a nice little twist to round off the story, but my favourite piece of random weirdness in this episode is undoubtedly Meow and QT’s completely bizarre Swan pedalo.
- QT was really into fishing once before, but naturally there’s no continuity callback.
- Though it’s less artistically ambitious than other episodes, there are still some unique flourishes, most notably in the final storm sequence when the sea goes all flat and almost sumi-e. There are also some terrific watercolour backgrounds.
- Though we see Dandy in a fundoshi in this episode, no jokes are cracked about it, which is a pretty good indication of the more gentle tone the story takes.