Space Dandy Episode 26

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Recap

Dandy is finally captured by the Gogol Empire, triggering the universe’s most insane rescue attempt and a chance to come face-to-face with God.

Zigg’s Thoughts

This was pretty much the perfect finale for Space Dandy. That is to say, it’s utterly chaotic, totally fails to pay off any number of major plot points, jammed with more ideas than it has room for, and is just generally sort of weird. It was also wonderful to look at, incredibly funny, jammed with more ideas than it has room for and is just generally sort of weird. It’s less coherent than I was expecting, but also way more amusing, so that’s a win in my book.

I think my major fear here was that there would be an overt attempt to tie together all of the disparate continuities we’ve seen into one overarching whole. That doesn’t really happen, despite some sort of token effort to justify the constant resets. The stuff about Dandy carrying pyonium (which is basically just an excuse for random anime bullshit to happen) and existing in many universes at once is a sort of nod towards the idea, but really there’s no concrete effort to make things we’ve seen ‘canon’. It’s basically just a way to acknowledge the things that have happened in the show without having to provide a real reason for the constant genre and story hopping. As I said, I’m completely fine with that.

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With all that out of the way, it basically gives BONES and the scriptwriters an excuse to go utterly crazy on the rest of the episode. So we FINALLY get the massive showdown between the two empires that’s been teased constantly throughout the show, complete with more visual pyrotechnics than you can shake a stick at. For the most part Dandy‘s superior artistic qualities have come from great design rather than killer animation, but here we get both and it’s glorious to look at. There’s a frantic, manic energy to the whole affair which meshes perfectly with the big battle feeling. The result is like something out of classic mech anime, but spiced up with a modern off-the-wall sensibility. The level of detail in some of the shots is remarkable, and if at other times they sacrifice that detail for movement, it’s absolutely a tradeoff worth making. Some of the visual imagination on show rivals anything we’ve seen in previous episodes, and is damn funny to boot. How can you not love giant robot bondage Lady Liberty fighting space energy dragons? How can I not love the fact I get to write that sentence?

I suspect a major complaint about this episode will be the number of seemingly major plot points it raises and then discards without a second thought. I on the other hand actually love this, because it feels like the creators treating the episode like a big blow-out bash where they can do whatever they want with their characters, because we aren’t going to be seeing them again. The Dandy cast have always been something of a comedia dell’arte troupe anyway, morphing personalities and characteristics to fit the necessities of the weeks plot, so sending the entire affair slightly off the rails here isn’t exactly disturbing any previously established character traits. Indeed, it’s terrific comedy to see the trodden-upon Bea morph into a madly evil double-agent, to see Inferno Cop Admiral Perry revealed as an old man in a suit or, best of all, to see our ever wry narrator announce that he’s actually literally God.

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The ending is of course a mind screw in the very best tradition of anime endings, and there’s some aspects of it I like and some I don’t like. I’m not sure a ‘back to where it all began’ beginning really suits Space Dandy especially since that’s basically what we’ve been seeing all along, and the idea of a Dandy not obsessed with the booty is practically sacrilegious.  On the other hand, his off-the-cuff rejection of the chance to become all-powerful is incredibly funny and very much in keeping with the spirit of the show. As always with this endings too there’s a certain sense of satisfaction from coming full circle, and the blow of all of our continuity being wiped away is assuaged by the fact that…well, it wasn’t there to begin with. Space Dandy ends very much as it lived – a little messy, a little rough around the edges, but overflowing with so much art, craft, love, talent, and humour, it’s impossible to feel anything but awe for what was accomplished.

Random Observations

  • The one thing I will admit is sort of odd is Dandy goes to destroy the machine because it’s going to destroy the universe, but then it destroys the universe anyway. I guess the implication is Bea or Admiral Perry would have remade the universe in their own image, whereas Dandy just allowed nature to take its course. It’s still sort of odd though.
  • The fact that Dandy is given fighting spirit by thong-clad buttocks is very much something I can believe.
  • In all seriousness, Bea being a double-agent would have been an incredible twist in a more narrative-led show, and the double-twist that he’s playing both sides is even more entertaining.
  • Johnny’s lionhead laser blast was genuinely one of the best punch-the-air moments of the year.
  • Let’s have one last shoutout for the incredible soundtrack too.
  • There a bunch of hilariously unsubtle Evangelion references, but the giant face ala End of Evangelion at the end of the credits is just too good not to mention.
  • The credits are a laundry list of cameos from previous episodes, some of which are barely onscreen for a second (keep an eye out for the killer baseball).
  • ‘May be continued?’ might be the most frustrating end of credits message of all time.

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Marlin’s Thoughts

I may be alone on this, but I didn’t like this finale. Sure, when it was silly it worked, but far too much of this was played straight for my liking. Ostensibly we get a bit more time with all the characters now that everything is coming together, but instead of active involvement in the plot it just seems like cameos for the most part. I’m not saying you can’t have some callbacks in your finale, but when you put in every single callback it just gets kinda obtuse and takes time away from actual plot development. The only thing I really liked was Bea going evil out of nowhere and Dr. Gel suddenly Gamagooriing in order to stop him.

I was also disappointed that Meow and QT were still kept relatively to the sidelines even in the scenes they were a part of. Meow just said some permutation of “I’m scared!” while QT updated their location. While I suppose it plays to their personalities, it’s not exactly what I would call riveting performances. Instead it’s Honey and Scarlet that get to do most of the action. I’m sure lots of people may like Honey, but to me she has definitely felt like the most secondary of all the secondary characters in this show. I’ve never liked how they use her for constant fanservice, and she’s always had very small roles in previous episodes, yet suddenly she really cares about Dandy out of nowhere.

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From a pure story standpoint the ending is also incredibly bewildering. Dandy goes up to stop the machine to save everyone right? Yet he just punches it and everything gets destroyed anyway. I know that universe destruction isn’t unknown to the Dandy format at this point, but it just felt like a weird way to come to that climax. There was all that build up getting everyone to save Dandy, and then getting Dandy out to save everyone, and in the end it was all for nothing. I’ll admit the following scene with the reveal of why our trusty narrator is so omniscient was fun, but it would have been better if Dandy had made some funny mistake when he destroyed the universe than having him magically run at it like this is Redline. I’m sure I’ll be mostly alone on this. I get that Dandy wanted to go out with a bang, I’m just afraid it caused a mess.

Random Observations

  • It was nice to see BONES work their ass off again like they did episode one.
  • I’m actually kinda disappointed that Admiral Perry wasn’t actually Giant Space Inferno Cop.
  • New Dandy is right: it’s all about the legs.

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Zigg’s note – A show that spanned all of space and time deserves an equally epic Final Thoughts post, so look for that to come in a separate blog later this week!

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