Space Dandy 2 – 13 (Fin)

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The long-standing criticism of Space Dandy’s M.O. of hitting the reset button after every episode, thus limiting its momentum across the entire run, is fearlessly addressed (and IMO officially debunked) this week, as just about every major serial element is brought into play for one hell of a satisfying grand finale.

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First of all, the show finally, finally lets Dr. Gel get his hands on Dandy, ambushing him as he’s walking out of the courthouse (Dandy is definitely a victim of publicly-televised trials in this case.) Not wanting Dandy to die at the hands of Gogol, Honey and Scarlet join Meow and QT on a daring rescue mission.

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That’s not a bad rescue party at all. Meanwhile, Commander Johnny (now a full-time general) learns from the Jaicro expert witness just how dangerous Dandy would be in the hands of Gogol, and launches an all out assault on the Gogol homeworld. That means the Aloha Oe warps right into the middle of a stellar pandemonium.

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The battle is fantastic, and made all the better by the funky soundtrack. Then, in a stunning turn of events, Bea reveals himself as Jaicro spy, betrays Gel, then betrays Jaicro, taking Dandy’s pyonium—and the promise of universal domination—for himself.

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Bea has shown signs of competence and initiative in the past, but never villainy until now, but hey, he’s ready to be his own boss, and certainly cuts a villainous figure with his popped collar and smirk. His only mistake was not making sure Gel was dead, and that proves fatal.

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After a harrowing journey aboard Aloha Oe than surfing in Little Aloha girls, robot and cat reach Dandy and free him from his chains, only to have to see his back once more as he volunteers to take Gel’s ship and destroy the berzerk superweapon before it destroys the universe.

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That’s when things get baroque: Dandy is ejected naked from Little Aloha and seems to merge with the core of the weapon, destroying everything and everyone we know.

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He ends up in some kind of purgatory and is approached by who else but the narrator, who is essentially God. Since Dandy is the only other being able to traverse dimensions without losing his memories (as demonstrated in many episodes), God wants him to be his successor once the multiverse is reborn.

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But it’s a sore deal from Dandy’s perspective. Being infinite and eternal and beyond all matter is all well and good, but he wouldn’t be able to flirt with Scarlet at the alien registration office or hang out with Honey at Boobies. That renders God’s offer moot. Dandy refuses, the multiverse as it was collapses on itself.

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We emerge back at the first episode of the series, with Dandy discussing boobs with a disinterested QT. There’s no narration, as God is gone and wasn’t replaced, but otherwise everything seems to be back to normal yet again. Then the credits roll, accompanied by a great pan through of the entire Dandy universe, and one more new, fantastic piece of music.

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This finale wasn’t just a tying up of all the loose threads the show had generated, but a love letter to all of its fans who always wanted to see Gel bag Dandy, Scarlet and Honey team up, a big decisive battle between empries, and finally, Dandy turning down godhood. I for one loved it.

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Space Dandy 2 – 12

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Space Dandy has spoofed a great number of things, but never a courtroom drama until now. What I appreciated was just how polished and professional a courtroom drama it came up with, which still managed to include Dandy trademarks such as a plethora of strange-looking aliens, crazy plot twists, and a story that starts out about as simple as you can get but gradually expands into much more.

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The trial also served as a kind of unofficial retrospective of Dandy’s journey thus far. Despite the fact he, Meow and QT are friends, the “defendant’s affidavit” is a lot more harsh and impersonal about their relationships, while Scarlett is forced to admit from the witness chair that he’s never brought in a particularly rare alien. As the incident of the transdimensional batted ball gets more strange, we enter into the quantum and metaphysical qualities that often surround Dandy. That, and his love of Boobies.

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What made this episode so good was its dedication to telling a story in a calm and orderly fashion within the courtroom confines it established, not matter how crazy the particulars of the incident get (and they get plenty crazy). The prosecutor is big, flashy, and intimidating, yet respectful, while the defender puny and more reserved but just as tenacious in his desire to learn the truth of things. Dandy, notably, doesn’t say a word through the trial.

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Finally, it was just a gas to watch how the twisting trial wove all the individual well-spun threads of the case. A multitude of scenarios presents itself, but the story of the incident is constantly being revised as new information comes to light. Turns out a kid on a faraway planet went a little too far and batted a ball with such murderous intent that it transported the ball into the victim’s apartment and into his head.

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Despite the fact there was ample evidence and motive established to convict either Dandy or Rose (or both of them) of conspiring to kill Guy, all of that turned out to be totally peripheral to the true crime. This episode emphasizes the crucial importance of the presence of reasonable doubt. Ironically, it’s a tweeting juror who happens to be on the boy’s feed that flips the whole case upside down. Oh, and the victim wasn’t dead after all, so no harm, no foul.

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Dandy is free to go, and his buds, while mildly perturbed he described their roles in his life so callously, are glad he’s back…and then, outside the courthouse, there’s an alien army waiting for him. The episode closes with a “To Be Continued”, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the final episode of Dandy doesn’t bother picking up on this. I could just be one more reminder that the twists and turns in a story never stop, and it’s time for the next adventure.

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The super-serious end credits were pretty awesome too.

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Space Dandy 2 – 11

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That’s not a box…it’s a tesseract!

In its more bizarre yet creative outings, Space Dandy has a knack for imbuing abstract concepts with a recognizable specificity in order to tell an conventional story. Last week and this week were both conventional romances, told in completely different ways. Last week Scarlett hired Dandy to pretend to be her boyfriend, then fell for him for real. This week we see one of the “couple hundred or so pasts” Dandy’s had that he’d rather not re-live, in this case a transdimensional love triangle.

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Little bit of Aubrey Beardsley in this composition, oddly enough.

The cold open set us up to expect a standard tale of a fire going out in a relationship, but it’s good that we don’t see Catherine in this scene, because it would give away the fact that Catherine is a 4D being represented by a tesseract with a beating cartoon heart at its core, which would have killed the mood a bit, at least at first. In the normal 3D present, neither the cat or the robot get what Dandy ever saw, but Honey understands completely: love is love, and it takes all forms and, apparently, dimensions.

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The third member of the triangle is Paul (a simple name for a complex character), who has arrived in the third dimension within his 2D universe, which resembles a full level map from Nintendo Power, which turns anything it touches into 2D. It’s not Dandy who first encounters it, but Dr. Gel and Bea. The Gogol overlords treat it as an invasion, but Gel is a man of science before he’s a man of war, and relishes being transformed into 2D, because he gets to experience the unknown.

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It’s interesting then, that what is a total unknown for a venerable scientist is old news for Dandy. It’s just taken on faith that somehow, he entered into a romantic relationship with a 4D woman, without going into detail exactly how that works, because, after all, love is just as inscrutable between 3D lovers. Cathy’s 4D/2D fling with Paul is even more inexplicable, but it doesn’t matter; the dimensions may as well be different countries, and the lovers’ dimensional differences a matter of differences of perspective.

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Of course, the concept of a romance “just not working out” is a lot easier to quantify in this story: of course things “just wouldn’t work out” for beings of fundamentally different spacial dimensions! But we still see from the way Dandy treats Cathy that there’s still affection there, even if it’s more of the “just friends” kind. The fact they can still be friends and that Dandy would help Cathy out with Paul goes to show that while their past breakup was painful, it was more an act of evolution than destruction.

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Our heads thus firmly wrapped around the love story, the presentation and mechanics of the clashing dimensions is a lot of fun, as the 2D visuals are accompanied by suitably retro 8-bit sound effects. Several video games are loosely represented in the 2Dverse including Space Invaders, Civ, SimCity and Zelda, and the fact of the universe folding itself up like a newspaper, only to be punched through by the Aloha Oe’s giant scissors (an idea that came from Honey) is another crazy but clever way of the dimensions going at it. Gel and Bea’s eventual devolution into zero dimensions is also funny, if a bit chilling (though I’m sure Gel’s lovin’ every minute of it).

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Finally, while Meow and QT often just served as the skeptic and reporter this week, Honey got some nice screen time. Cathy likes how Dandy is now hanging around someone as positive and “spunky” as Honey, while Honey shows off a bit of her self-interest by accompanying the others out of the perceived possibility of scoring with Paul, who is a 2D prince. In the end though, love can’t always overcome looks, as Honey considers Paul’s simple crowned blue rectangle form a deal-breaker.

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Space Dandy 2 – 07

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I knew a rock-and-roll themed Space Dandy was inevitable. Dandy possesses all the qualities necessary to be a rock star…other than success. What we didn’t see coming was that this kind of story would involve the peripheral ongoing conflict between the Gogol and Jaicro Empires, let alone be the thing that prevents a hellish interstellar war between the two.

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But that’s simply Space Dandy’s knack for making clever connections between big and small happenings in the show. The flapping of a butterfly’s wings—or in this case, the flapping of Johnny D and Dandy’s gums—ends up saving the universe. Of course, the fact that Johnny D’s day job is Commander-in-Chief of the Jaicro Empire, and that he’d give it all up to be a gen-u-wine rock star, also played a role.

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While Dandy is looking for fame and fortune in the usual way, Johnny D already has both in his other life, but it’s not enough. Dandy humming in the men’s room, of all things leads to the two starting a band. But both Dandy’s laziness and Johnny’s already-established status lead to the two doing everything a band does…other than making actual music.

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As a parody of the rock star lifestyle influenced by other rock star lifestyles, this is pretty effective. It’s pretty funny watching the two argue with each other about all the minutiae that doesn’t actually matter until a band is established. But if you’re already an intergalactic generalissimo, or already have the lovely Honey sprawled out on your table, delusions of grandeur are inevitable.

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Lucky for Dandy and Johnny, while they debate sticker-vs.-pennant (pennant?), Meow and QT actually practice their instruments and are ready to go when it’s time to actually rock and roll. Johnny spends untold days atop a playground slide waiting for a masterpiece to “descend upon him”, and the sounds of the city eventually put a catchy Police-style riff in his head.

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Their first gig is typically pathetic first gig, and it’s pretty comical how their song is only that one-measure riff repeated ad nauseum; but “Dropkix” end up get a reputation for boisterous gigs which end with some kind of fight or explosion or both. This catches the attention of a music industry bigwig, who books them for SPACE BUDOKAN.

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Everything is better with “SPACE” attached, and their first big concert doesn’t disappoint. At first, Johnny D flakes out because his Empire’s big assault is the same day as the concert, and he puts duty before dreams. But then he arrives at the last minute, climbing out of a lion’s head embedded in his giant space mecha looming over the stadium. What an entrance!

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They finally start playing music, and the song is not bad and quite catchy, if simple in lyrics. The two start competing again, leading to a mixture of flames and water and lightning that destroy the venue and Johnny’s mecha. But while it was their first and last big show, it did avert a war, so while Dandy will be back to alien-hunting next week, the universe came out on top.

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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)