Space Dandy – 13 (Fin)

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Between Data, Bender, Johnny 5, WALL-E, and any number of other shows and films featuring sentient robots, we’ve been conditioned to treat them just as we would any other characters. Matters are made easier by the fact that both QT and (Coffee) Maker have human voices, and easier still by the fact that Maker is voiced by yet another excellent Space Dandy guest seiyu: Hirano Aya in a particularly cute, pleasant, and sincere performance.

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Like Dandy in the Adele episode and Meow in his family episode, this episode was a chance to focus on QT and show us another side of him. That seems to be Space Dandy’s sweet spot, as these three “personal” episodes are three of its best. QT had always struck us as the analytical, scolding nerd to Dandy’s hapless Casanova and Meow’s slob/sloth acts; the least interesting of the trio (though not to say he wasn’t funny. We also thought for a while that “he” was a she, due to the high-pitched voice.

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But this week QT gets to fall in love, like WALL-E, to a very sweet, shapely and adorable coffee maker (who bares a slight resemblance to EVE), and we find ourselves rooting for him at every turn. QT’s progression from magical first encounter to admiring from afar to gathering the courage to talk to Maker and even take her out for a night on the town, is a familiar romantic arc, but like all of Space Dandy’s dabbles into genre, the all about the presentation and execution, which is fantastic here.

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Of course, if you haven’t watched or dislike films like WALL-E, you may not so easily warm to it, but we were invested and moved throughout, and thought this kind of story was a no-brainer and a perfect way to get us to like and care about QT more. We also like how the standard romantic story takes a turn towards the damsel-in-distress story when Maker (and her good friend and colleague Register) are taken from the cafe and sent to “Dream Island.”

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Determined to save her, QT hitches a ride to the island of misfit appliances that have gained emotions, and finds an entire Utopian society of sentient robots dancing the night away to EDM. When he discerns that Maker and Register are an item, he’s disheartened, as are we, though isn’t as if we thought Maker would be joining the crew of the Aloha Oe. When Register joins the more bitter robots’ revolution against living things, QT breaks out the heroics, going the extra mile (and benefiting from another Dr. Gel experiment gone awry) so Maker wouldn’t have to cry.

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The chase and ensuing between a gigantized QT and the giant deathbot provides one final stunning visual setpiece for the show’s first season (there will be a second come July), and the episode-long count of days without QT drinking coffee ends in typically Space Dandyesque scene of ironic comedy: as human as this episode made him, liquids will still cause him to short-circuit. Space Dandy has shown us a little bit of everything, but we have no doubt that what it has yet to show us could fill an entire second season; minus a dud or two.9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Space Dandy – 12

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Well, presumably it had to happen sometime: a genuine clunker from Space Dandy. It was still fairly entertaining, but the “alien that looks like anything” plot was somewhat lacking, that this was also the first episode that we really felt went on too long, rather than not long enough.

Now, because something can transform into a duplicate of one of our characters, repetition is part of the game, but it was a card that was overplayed and grew tiresome. What also grew tiresome is the abject lack of basic observation skills. Honestly, the BBP crew just seemed dumber than usual this week.

Despite being a subpar Dandy outing, there were bright spots: Scarlett’s constant debasement of Dandy’s alien hunting skills, QT geeking out on fishing, and his reaction faces in the “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire”-parodied Dandy Quiz. But even these things felt overstretched and undercooked. We just weren’t feeling this one.


Rating: 5 (Average)

 

Space Dandy – 11

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We open this episode with gifted scientist Dr. Gel so deep into complex, esoteric calculations, he doesn’t even hear Admiral Perry’s orders to invade the library planet Lagado. Gel’s assistant Bea, who seems like a capable chap, takes command. Meanwhile Dandy is trying to register a rare alien in a box he isn’t supposed to open for reasons he forgets. When the box is opened, sirens blare, a booklet and ticket to Lagado are revealed. While we suspect Gel’s calculations have something to do with all this, we are, for the moment, as confused and clueless as Dandy.

This episode gradually reveals its premise regarding the Great Librarian of Lagado (an alien in the form of a book) being checked-out by Admiral Perry because Dr. Gel said he needed it. The book manipulates Dandy & Co. to steal her from Perry, then manipulates them to successfully escape from the Gogol fleet and return her to Lagado. She had a desire to see the outside world with her own eyes, not merely in print. Now home safe and sound, she rewards Dandy with the box we see in the beginning, which they open again to reveal a videotape…and the cycle continues.

This episode was a showcase for Space Dandy’s uncanny ability to open an episode with a messy pile of disparate building blocks but end up with a relatively sturdy, recognizable whole by the end. The episode does so stylishly too, adopting a totally different aesthetic for the time Dandy, QT and Meow are being manipulated by the book, with most of the color being sapped out of the world, lighting becoming more dramatic and textured noir-ish. It’s a fitting depiction of the somewhat hazy, incomplete nature of memory.

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All the sci-fi mystery aside, the episode also manages to make a fairly unadorned commentary on the consumption of media. Whether it’s books, tapes, laserdiscs or floppies, mankind’s drive to record anything and everything is absolute and unrelenting. Such media provides their consumers with thoughts and ideas they didn’t have to come up with on their own, which can lead to those consumers being manipulated and their very lives directed by said media.

For us, that media is anime: we can scarcely get enough of it, and we schedule chunks of our lives to watch and review it. We’re not much different than QT sucking up punch cards of smooth yet bold-tasting data; it’s just a matter of complexity. And with the ultimate knowledge of the cosmos taken to its extreme, we witness Dr. Gel finally comprehending everything, leading to his destruction; moderation was not practiced. But hey, at least we now we know why the end credits contain all those weird calculations!

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Space Dandy – 10

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Sket Dance was a typically very goofy, loopy show where anything goes that also happened to be really good at serious episodes when it felt like doing them. Space Dandy has been the same way; whether it’s the elderly ramen alien, Adelie, it’s those deeply emotional episodes with a message—even if the message isn’t all that complicated or original—we’ve enjoyed the most.

This week Space Dandy aims to transform its lazy, dirty doofus that is Meow into a more well-rounded, sympathetic, real character by having the Aloha Oe touch down on his home planet of Betelgeuse for repairs. His small, unexceptional hometown that has seen better days, his chaotic but relatively warm family, and a snapshot of the life he left to explore space, all of it is efficiently rendered within a day.

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Then that day becomes another day, and another after that, all exactly the same, and suddenly we’re in a Space Dandy version of Groundhog Day, one of our favorite films. Obviously, that makes us a bit biased towards this story, but we love time loops in general, from TNG’s “Cause and Effect”, all the way to “Endless Eight” and Natsuiro Kiseki’s finale. Like Groundhog Day, once Meow realizes tomorow isn’t coming, he makes use of the loops to improve himself and explore the life he left behind.

When he learns his high school crush is a lesbian, he scours the internet for a fix, and it turns out the calendar itself the camera always fixes on in the beginning of each loop is the key; the source of the Moebius loop created by the energy discharge of an imploded superweapon Dr. Gel insisted wasn’t ready yet but Perry deployed anyway. The resolution is beautiful, requiring the precision metalworking skills of Meow’s blue-collar dad to free the stuck page from the calendar.

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We had been thinking it would have involved machining the part needed for the Aloha Oe, that “piece of a certain appliance” that Meow won an award in school for constructing. The last comment about the lives Meow, Dandy, and QT are returning to are usually pretty monotonous, but as QT said, there’s a huge difference between “pretty much” the same day and the exact same day over and over.

There were a ton of details in the episode we loved: the diverse range of siblings Meow had and all their little quirks; the dad’s unashamed love of boobies and routine of going to the bar after work for a couple; the Countach poster on Meow’s wall; the sheer ridiculousness of Dandy picking a fight with an inanimate wall calendar and losing. But most of all, we liked how it took Meow and really elevated him to a new level. It makes us hope origin stories for QT and Dandy are down the road.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

 

Space Dandy – 09

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The vibrant variety of Space Dandy is such that there’s a little of something for everyone. This flora-centric episode is perhaps the show’s most psychedelic outing yet, relying less on plot and characters than the pure atmosphere of the far-out planet-of-the-week, somewhat unimaginatively-named “Planet Planta.” Large swaths of the episode have no dialogue, using alien ambient sound effects and some very trippy yet catchy music during a colorful and wondrous interlude. This show does some terrific montages.

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This is another episode in which QT stays on the ship and Dandy and Meow are separated on a new planet, but rather than following nearly-identical courses, Meow stays stationary as the simpler southern plant-folk around him fatten him up like a foie gras goose. Dandy, on the other hand, scarcely ever stays still, being swept up by microbes working for the highly-evolved northern plant-folk and delivered to a somewhat daffy scientist. He, his daughter, and his staff are all plants that lack conventional “faces” to lock on to, but still come across as people, not things. We like how things seem a little perilous at first but the doc turns out to be a decent sort; and his daughter is cute as a button.

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Like Dandy, the scientist is after “Code D”; he believes to be of considerable scientific significance, while Meow learned from a magazine that it’s a valuable rare alien. So they load up the plant-caravan and head off on an epic journey vividly illustrated in that interlude we talked about, a grand tour of most of the 18 “plant republics” that make up the northern hemisphere. As they draw nearer, a former colleague and present rival of the scientist arrests them all for illegal travel, but the scientist’s friends bust them out of plant jail and the journey continues.

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The Daliesque odyssey is a lavish feast for the eyes, full of wonder and other-ness, and we particularly like how audio-visual cues are used to effectively portray the intensifying stench of their quarry. Code D turns out to be a technicolor crystalline meteorite, and when Dandy snaps its cables and tries to snatch it, he causes a chain reaction that tears all of the advanced republics’ biodomes, causing a planetary de-evolution of all of the plants back to the inert kind we and Dandy are used to. The scientist doesn’t deny that this was his plan all along: to return plants to their natural state; to their “roots.”

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Space Dandy – 08

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This week Space Dandy plays the Dying Dog Card. The DDC is a surefire way to switch on the waterworks for a good portion of the audience, provided it’s done right. The Aloha Oe lands on Machinia, a planet made of junk, quite possibly from all of the space missions in the galactic vicinity. There, as QT geeks out and collects parts and Meow samples the local cuisine, Dandy discovers a dog and coaxes her to his side. Unlike say, Guts from Kill la Kill, a pug highly stylized in design, this P.U.P. is realistically rendered, making her optimal for emotional connection.

And unlike Guts, she’s not invincible. In fact, she’s dying. She tells them this only after Dandy makes her the fourth member of his crew and plays with her all day. Dandy’s translation band even translates her barking into the voice of a frail woman who is glad she got to play one last time. Before Dandy built a rocket memorial for her, we knew the dog was probably Laika, and the narrator—even he gets teary-eyed—confirms the possibility, in a nice nod to real-life space history. It’s also comforting to think Laika may have somehow survived and lived long enough for another human to find her and tell her the humans didn’t shoot her into space because they hated her, but to advance their understanding of the universe. She was a good dog.

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Rather than switch gears entirely, the episode then deals with the consequences of contact with a dog who’s been hanging around on a dumpster planet for God knows how long: namely, fleas. The way they’re gradually revealed is very slick. When we first see the brothers, we actually had no idea the golden fields in which they were lying was in fact the dog’s coat. We should have picked up on it when they started bouncing around like, well, giant green fleas.

After dealing so many normal-sized or huge aliens, a microscopic one is a refreshing change, and they’re able to wreak plenty of havoc despite their size. In the end, though, the Aloha Oe escapes via warp from the black hole created when Machinia imploded, just as Dr. Gel and Bea warp in. Victims of horrible timing, they’re sucked in, perpetuating the trend of Gel and Dandy being two ships passing in the cosmic night.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Space Dandy – 07

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Many a great sci-fi series features a good old-fashioned Grand Prix race at some point in its run, and Space Dandy reaches into that deep cookie jar of stand-bys with its usual cheek and flair. It’s yet another great opportunity for universe-building, as the various drivers come in every size, shape and color. But the only one that matters to Dandy is the one stealing his thunder at Boobies: The Prince, voiced by Kaji Yuki.

While Dr. Gel is the antagonistic thorn that…never actually makes it into Dandy’s side, Prince is his first legitimate rival, winning hearts of the ladies through impeccable polish, politeness, boyish good looks, and by being the very best at what he does, which Dandy is decidedly not, no matter how entertaining his missions have been. Still, Dandy doesn’t hesitate to take Prince on at his own game, and enters the Magellanic Nebulae Grand Prix.

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QT and Meow are dubious of any kind of success against Prince, but when they find out that Prince is essentially a Bizarro Dandy with his own arrogant robot and (Mickey-like) rat sidekicks, they buy in at once, and the race is on, along a course that bears a close resemblance to Silverstone. (We’re also watching this episode on the day of the Daytona 500; a cool coincidence). Dandy doesn’t get off to a good start, but makes good use of his many trump cards, all of which are activated by the same yellow button.

The race itself is a gorgeous panorama of diverse environments and menagerie of funky aliens, which again just adds to the scale and intricate texture of the Space Dandy universe. The Prince is heel-and-toeing along in the lead, but Dandy keeps clawing and bearing down and showing up in the rear-view mirror until before Prince knows it, Dandy’s in the lead, and he does it His Way, which is to say by ignoring the laws of chemistry, metallurgy, physics—but none of the race rules.

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In the process of dueling with Dandy while the other competitors crash and explode (including Dr. Gel, who got so caught up in the race he briefly overtook his quarry), Prince undergoes a transformation (emotional, not physical): for the first time, he’s going all out and not leaving the competition in the dust. Dandy is pursuing him against all odds, flying in the face of the truths he had held inviolable: that nobody could beat him; that despite the love of the millions, he was alone at the front of the pack—until now.

We expected an ending in which the result of the race was disputed in some fashion or another, but with Prince and Dandy coming away more friends than enemies. But the Prince falling in love with Dandy, Dandy plowing into him from behind at the Seventh Space Velocity, Dandy achieving a higher level of existence, emerging 5 billion years later to find that he had been revered as a Buddha-like deity? Not expected. And those incessant bumper cards throughout the episode in which a chorus sang “Dandy” in various chords actually foreshadowed his apotheosis: it was a mantra.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Space Dandy – 06

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As expected, Space Dandy completely changes gears from a heartwarming friendship story to interplanetary diplomacy, as they crash land in the midst of the ongoing struggle between the two last survivors of two warring civilizations. It’s a very old sci-fi concept brought back to life by the show’s passion and knack for fresh storytelling, and unique in what differentiates the otherwise very similar factions: clothes. The Undies wear only boxers, whil the Vestians wear only vests…and n’er the twain shall meet.

Dandy and Meow reconnoitre and are both captured in quick succession by the aliens, in scenes spoofing Luke Skywalker’s capture by Tusken raiders. Ironically, the “droid” in Space Dandy, “QT” isn’t captured. That’s key, because on this particular world with these particular factions: only Dandy and Meow could have been captives…and they’re lucky enough to be captured by the side that favors their own clothing preferences. Dandy is actually most at home in his boxers, while Meow sports the far more Disney-esque vest.

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The aliens themselves are funky designs with awesome voices, and the show makes a point to cross-cut their conversations with their captives-made-allies in order to accentuate how they have far more in common than different. One reason the war’s gone on so long is that they only fight about a minute a day in fighters, and have terrible aim. But their respective causes are quickly taken up by Dandy and Meow, so when they meet, they find themselves fighting on behalf of their new alien friends. More to the point, when the clock expires, both come away with mutual respect for each other. It’s very chivalrous and both sides play fair.

It’s also key that QT stays aboard the crashed Aloha Oe; in addition to staying above the fray and making repairs, she reiterates the overarching goal of being there in the first place: registering these two aliens. That can only happen if there’s peace, so Dandy and Meow set to work (in the aliens’ oddly romantic-looking bedrooms) convincing their friends to set their conflict aside. It’s win-win: the last Undie and last Vestian would get to experience what else the universe and life have to offer; while Dandy & Co. get a payday.

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The Accords get off to a good start, with a treaty being signed, and hands shaken. But when it comes time to exchange clothing—a final gesture of differences exchanged rather than merely set aside—neither of the aliens can do it, even though the color of the star on their would-be new garb matches their skin (maybe this was done before in the past?) They take out concealed guns and empty their clips at each other, missing everything, then hurl progressively larger rocks at each other (returning to the most primal tactics of conflict) until they smush themselves to death.

With their dying breaths, each whips out the remote for their trump cards: orbital nukes that will assure mutual destruction. Unfortunately for Dandy and Meow, they’re not aboard the Aloha Oe when repairs are complete and the planet starts tearing itself apart. At this point it seemed likely QT would simply leave them behind to die, after promising to “never forget them”, a common refrain in such situations. But not this time.

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The show had very casually set up a trump card of its own in the first scene of the episode—Dandy’s rocket surfboard—and Dandy and Meow surf the “Big Wave” Dandy been waiting for: the kind that only comes when a planet is exploding. It’s a thrilling, beautiful, joyful end (set to an equally lovely, upbeat song), but it’s also a little wistful, as it demonstrates what could have been had the red and blue aliens committed to peace, waved goodbye to their ten-millennia-old battlefield, and ventured out into the universe. There were two more surfboards, after all.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Stray Observations:

  • Nice slice-of-life aboard the Aloha Oe to start us off: Dandy chilling in his very Dandyesque room with a Playboy; QT vacuuming; Meow ensconced in a hilariously Serial Experiments Lain-themed room full of computers and amazon shipping boxes.
  • This is also a way for Meow and QT to mock Dandy as a “shuubie” and poseur for never using his surfboards. Obviously they’ll come in handy later!
  • Dandy mistakes the alien’s advances as sexual. Not a bad instinct.
  • We’re sure there are a whole lot of other clever references in this episode, some we got, some we didn’t; but most omnipresent was the fact the Undies and Vestians reminded us of Dr. Seusse’s Sneetches: both in the elemental nature of their conflict, the odd shape of their bodies, and, of course, the stars!

Space Dandy – 05

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Even though he ends up mired in them almost all the time, Dandy doesn’t like complications, or things that will tie him down or threaten his transitory nature. He does what he wants and doesn’t do what he doesn’t; taking orders from no one. While he may ‘sign’ every other line with “baby”, an actual baby would be anathema to Dandy. The moment someone starts a family they cease to be the most important person in their lives, and they cease to be their own boss to boot. That’s partly why Dandy doesn’t have a family; just a robot and a layabout cat-alien for company. This week, if only this week, that formula changes with the addition of Adélie, an alien who’s been humiliating alien hunters with a huge price on her head. Turns out she’s just a little girl looking for her family, and finds a fleeting one in Dandy.

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This is almost the inverse of Michiko and Hatchin, in which a wronged mother seeks out and snatches up her daughter (we really need to get back to that show someday…): Dandy had no intention of hanging out with a little brat, and indeed, he doesn’t seem he’d be guardian material, considering all the sleazy places he hangs out at, and the dangers his vocation lends. But with the Aloha Oe impounded, the 8 million Woolongs are worth a space train ride to the registration office with said brat. But like Hatchin, Adélie proves a match for Dandy’s robust personality, which is after all so much bluster and bravado…and boobs. At first they can’t even agree on the proper condiment for eggs, but they gradually warm to each other, and have fun adventures on their journey.

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We’ve said that Space Dandy never fails to put on a hell of a show with whatever genre-of-the-week it decides to focus on, and this kind of story is no different, hitting all the right comedic and dramatic notes. Of course, its effectiveness could have suffered had too harsh or bratty a voice been selected to play Adélie. Fortunately she’s voiced by Kanazawa Hana, provides a perfect balance of cheek, angst, and vulnerability. We imagine anyone would be eager to play such a beautifully-fleshed out, believable character even for one episode (though who knows, she may be back), who just happens to have stingers that can transfer peoples’ consciousness to plushies—a power that’s always used cleverly. More than anything, this episode redeems Dandy as someone with a heart of gold, which is beautifully revealed as his emotional stake in Adelie grows along with ours.

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After checking into a motel, Dandy announces he’s going out for a night of Boobies (which we know to be his church), leaving Adélie to stew alone. Our hearts literally soared when it turned out he was feverishly investigating the whereabouts of her grandfather, her only living relative. The reunion at the station goes delightfully un-smoothly when Adélie bristles at their apparent parting; accusing Dandy of abandoning her because she’s inconvenient; being no different from the other adults. Dandy’s daring rescue of her from the scorned alien hunters—while stuck in a stuffed penguin—was truly inspired. In the end, they do have to part ways, but not after changing one another’s preconceptions. Dandy met a decent kid and got a taste of fatherhood. Adelie met a decent adult and got a taste of daughter-hood. Hell, for all we know, Dandy IS her real father…


Rating: 10 (Masterpiece)

RABUJOI World Heritage List

Space Dandy – 04

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The beauty of Space Dandy is we never have the slightest idea where it’s going to go, but we know it’s going to be good. That trend continues this week as the entire episode chronicles the systematic zombification of the entire Space Dandy universe, which you can trace back to Meow getting bitten by their latest alien captive which turns out to be a zombie.

Dandy and QT take him to the hospital where he’s pronounced dead, and he eventually infects the rest of the hospital, Dr. Gel and the mercenaries sent to capture, Dandy, and eventually QT and Dandy (Dandy’s outrage that even robots can be turned is both justified and hilarious). Previous outings would suggest a reset button would be hit and we’d be on to a new, unrelated story in the second half, but Space Dandy wasn’t done with its zombie milieu. The narrator matter-of-factly takes us through the gang’s new un-lives as zombies.

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They still communicate and show emotion; just not in a way easily perceptible to the living. Too slow to capture aliens, they “live” off Dandy’s own life insurance policy. Like living beings, they listen to their elder (the alien who first infected Meow) who tells them to eat yogurt. They make peace with their new selves, and the society of space, so huge and diverse, is very accepting of their new status. It ain’t easy to make a zombie episode fresh (no pun intended), but it’s no surprise Space Dandy pulled it off with ease.

As more zombies are made and take out their own life insurance policies, the insurance companies hire zombie hunters, but they’re turned too. As the universe becomes wholly zombified, the episode explores the benefits of a universe populated by a single species unified by its undeadness; a world without war, disease, or differences. Then the narrator himself becomes a zombie and signs, well, groans off, and the episode ends with Dandy, QT and Meow settling in for a good Romero flick.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)

Space Dandy – 03

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This episode exhibited that sometimes there’s a definite method to the madness; that the chaos is very carefully constructed. Therefore, while a multitude of stuff flies past the screen in the course of an episode, a small, innocuous detail from the beginning could pay dividends in the end. There’s a great cat’s cradle of cause-and-effect that propels Dandy, QT and Meow on their adventures, who all end up partial contributors.

Let’s unravel that cradle:

  1. Dandy is having no luck with the alien hunting, getting desperate enough to try to pass Meow off in disguise.
  2. With no money, QT has to stretch pennies to feed the other two, purchasing 365 packages of space food that’s 10,000 years past its sell-by date.
  3. With no money or edible food, Dandy must whip out his Boobies card (also an effective distraction for Meow) It has enough stamps for a free meal, But it too expires in less than three hours.
  4. With no money, edible food, or time to waste, Dandy hits the “Warp” button. Then he gets impatient, and hits it way too many times (waiting for computers to do something can be a torturous ordeal; good to see this won’t change in th distant future.)
  5. Let’s not forget Meow’s role: last week, they spent all their money chasing the Phantom Ramen, with no alien to show for it.

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All of that leads to their adventure: crash-landing on an inhospitable planet littered with skeletons. There are two life-forms there: a swarm of vicious, disgusting-looking monsters, and a blonde hottie named Mamitas, who has also crash-landed. In a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-its-cover scenario, the hottie turns out to be the more dangerous, all-devouring Deathgerian; so dangerous, in fact, that the second his men identify her, Dr. Gel turns turns his fleet around. (Her photo in his monster catalog, kneeling in a meadow, is priceless.)

Both the “ugly aliens are evil” and “the pretty lady is evil” are well-established conventions, but both so well executed here that we remained in the dark right up until Dr. Gel entered orbit, even though Mamitas just got finished saying “I’ll eat anything.” Her metamorphosis into a mammoth monster covered in boobs evoked shades of Cronenberg’s “body horror” oeuvre, both aesthetically and in the subtext of Dandy’s somewhat jejune view of women. It’s also just an awesome design in its own right, as is Dandy’s FLCL-inspired mecha “Hawaii Yankee.”

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Back to cause and effect: the fact Deathgerian wants to eat everything becomes it’s downfall, as she swallows a few boxes of the spoiled space food QT bought and gets sick. The monster turns out to be unique enough for Scarlett’s “OK” stamp and a reward of 99,000 Woolongs. All’s well that ends well…except for poor Meow.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Space Dandy – 02

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Space Dandy is the intergalactic comedy that takes its time and hangs out in bars—ramen shops. When none of Dandy’s alien quarry turns out to be rare, he ejects Meow into space, only letting him back into the ship when Meow promises he knows the location of a Phantom Ramen. A wide-ranging culinary journey ensues, with the contents of the bowls growing more bizarre and outrageous as Dandy’s bank account empties.

So what happens here is that Dandy, eager to make a buck, agrees to spend what money he does have matching noodle bowls with his unreliable new sidekick, who Dandy knows is only interested in eating and wasting time. All the while, Meow is inadvertently telling the enemy Dr. Gel exactly where they are by tweeting each restaurant they patronize. Dandy also meets the lovely (and limber) Scarlett, who takes out the first wave of Gel’s foot soldiers not to save Dandy, but as payback for spilling her bowl.

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Honey may give Space Dandy the time of day, but that’s her job. Scarlett is not the least bit seducd by Dandy’s wiles, especially when he asks for money. Still, once QT discovers Meow’s tweets and his phone is disposed of, the threat from the Gogol Empire is neutralized. It’s about this time when we started wondering how Dandy & Co. get themselves killed this week, but the episode’s final act didn’t follow that pattern; not exactly, at least. The only similarity to last week’s ending is that Dandy and Meow end up in another tense, dangerous situation, as the source of the stale but tasty Phantom Ramen turns out to be in a wormhole.

But after that mind-bending journey they emerge on the other side in a very calm, eerily gorgeous alternate dimension, and the comedy is put on hold for the surprisingly moving story of an ancient Earth-trained alien ramen master, possibly inspired by Jiro Dreams of Sushi (which we still have yet to see). The alien lives there alone for centuries, and his tears are the secret ingredient. After hearing the old alien’s tale, out of deference, Dandy lets him decide if he wants to come back with them. He declines, and in a hint of karmic justice, Meow loses his to-go bowl in the wormhole, and only Dandy gets the final taste ever.

9_superiorRating: 9 (Superior)

Space Dandy – 01

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Solaris author Stanislaw Lem wrote: “We don’t want other worlds, we want mirrors.” We long for a distant future in which we travel the stars, but the creepy unknowns that await us out in space must be tempered with the familiar trappings of life on our planet, like restaurants stocked with hot waitresses. Space Dandy dwells in that tasty world between the comforts of the familiar and the thrills of the truly alien. This is no hard science fiction; it gleefully mocks stodgier archetypes of the genre, like Gundam. This is Science Comedy; It’s a circus mirror, and it’s an absolute gas from start to finish.

While taking place in a bafflingly vast and complex universe, Space Dandy’s underlying story is blissfully simple: Space Dandy travels the cosmos with his robot pal QT, hunting for new aliens to register; wacky adventures ensue.  Oh sure, interstellar wars between huge empires are waged, but far in the background. Space Dandy has a great head of hair, passable fashion sense, and a penchant for surprisingly deep monologues, while preferring asses to boobs. At the end of the day, he’s a bit of a boob himself, surrounding himself with obsolete or substandard technology (which is still pretty cool to us) and goes wherever the tides of fate take him, which is a fancy way of saying he just goes wherever.

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There’s a lot of Star Wars influence in the sheer diversity of aliens we encounter, but packs a pulse and joie de vivre Coruscant’s streets were sorely lacking. One alien they pick up is Meow, who looks like a cat but is really from Betelgeuse, who they thought was an unknown because of the sticker on his cheek. Meow wouldn’t look out of place in a Chuck Jones cartoon, nor would the rocky landscape he and Dandy find themselves clambering around after a quick succession of decisions that send Dandy’s ship screaming in and out of normal spacetime and into the middle of a menagerie of gargantuan alien baddies.

In keeping with the episode’s cheeky attitude, in the end Dandy has QT activate an explosive device that obliterates the ship, the planet, and him, leaving us with the narrator proclaiming “No one will ever forget your gallant, appropriate actions…probably.” We like a show that’s not afraid to blow everyone and everything up in the first episode and start off fresh next week with a different observation of the human (and not-so-human) experience through the lens of a super-weird, ultra-colorful, manic universe where anything can happen and even the narrator doesn’t bother fully explaining everything. A great start to the Winter 2014 season.

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Rating: 8 
(Great)