Dandy wakes up on the shores of Limbo, and begins a journey through the land of the dead.
As I’ve made clear in previous posts, I absolutely love it when Space Dandy goes into super-crazy arthouse mode, and this may have been the purest expression of that yet. The idea of a journey through the land of the dead is literally ancient, dating back to Egyptian and Greek myths, but it’s the perfect hallucinatory setting to unleash more wonderfully bizarre monster designs upon us. There’s a pretty profound tone shift here from some of the stuff we’ve seen before though. Unlike Episode 9’s dreamy haze or Episode 16’s knowing surrealism, there’s definitely a more detached melancholy this week. I’d hesitate to call it dark, because it’s still definitely not taking itself too seriously, but there’s absolutely an air of bizarre stillness and emptiness to this one. That plays perfectly into the more distant, fatalistic tone the episode takes, and there’s even tinges of genuine sadness as Limbo describes the war which wrecked the planet beyond repair. For all the silly designs, this is essentially an episode about being unable to move on, and as ever the show shows surprising maturity for something which can be so dumb and crass.
As it has in similar episodes before, the bulk of the storytelling falls on the visuals, and they deliver with aplomb. The artistic ambition of the show is on display, and excels, at every level. It’s a triumph of both visual design and excellent technical execution, and at its best moments feels like a cinema quality experience. The depth and breadth of the imagination offered up to us is truly staggering, and it’s complemented wonderfully by the excellent soundtrack (by the equally excellently named OGRE YOU ASSHOLE), which does so much to establish a mood and ambiance befitting of what we see on screen. The combination of visuals, audio and an (admirably minimalist) writing and acting effort combines to create simply one of the most atmospheric episodes of anime ever put on TV. It’s the darkest, oddest and saddest Space Dandy has ever been, and it might also be the best.
- There’s some splendid visual storytelling on show in this episode, like the repeated motif of Dandy being carried in a longboat, in classic Viking funeral style.
- Though I get why it was done, I’d almost have preferred no cuts back to the Aloha’Oe at all, simply to deepen the sense of immersion.
- Take note – this episode proves it’s totally possible to integrate CG into your visual style in a natural and subtle way.
- The ending seems deliberately extremely open to interpretation, but my take is Dandy rejected his resurrection to come back and live among the dead willingly.
- Some people have advocated the idea this episode explains how Dandy keeps coming back from the dead from episode to episode. Personally, I think that’s searching hard for a solution where there is none. The show has been pretty open about it’s willing lack of continuity for some time now, and they aren’t going to stop that now.
I usually don’t feel the need to talk about Space Dandy, it’s a solid show and Zigg covers enough that I might as well just be repeating him. But this week, oh man. Animation is something I’m wildly passionate about and the art of movement is something very dear to me. The reason I came to love the medium is because of the wild and fantastic things you can do with it that can’t be imitated by any other medium. And that’s exactly what this week’s Space Dandy proved. It was an amazing mix of beautiful and incomprehensible. While I’m not sold on every arthouse style episode, this was one that really knocked it out of the park. The animation and art direction in this episode were on a whole other level, and you can tell the people who worked on it really cared. Between the jaw dropping visuals, the excellent musical score, and the satisfying narrative direction, this was about as perfect as Space Dandy can get for me. It’s weird, funny, and at its best, full of heart. Even as the last living inhabitant of a dead world confesses her love and uses all of her power to send Dandy on his way, the show never stops living up to the wonderful and weird standards it’s set throughout its run. It’s episodes like these that make me so glad I watch anime. And with it nearing the end, it’s going to be ones like these that’ll make me miss Space Dandy when it’s gone.
For the most part, I am into Space Dandy solely for the jokes. I haven’t been super impressed when it has tried to go deep so far, as I feel it just takes away from some of the show’s great strengths. However, this episode goes so intently into its topic that Dandy’s total obliviousness to it really works out well for it. It’s so beautifully made that all of us, usually watching it together to add to the comedy with our own commentary, were stunned silent. This is the magic of the Dandy formula, that you can go from having a rock concert that prevented galactic war to an introspective look into the nature of life and death.
For all its strength, I did find the end a little rushed. It did that inexplicably common japanese trope where characters purport to fall in love after only a few hours of interaction. I guess maybe since the realm is one beyond life, we don’t know how long Dandy was interacting with the people, and thus the manifestation of the planet itself, but it just seemed really sudden when she goes “Oh btw I totally love you Dandy.” The ending was sweet in its own goofy way, and was the perfect cap to this surreal experience.