Space Dandy 2 – 10

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Yet again, Space Dandy demonstrates that it can handle a conventional human love story as deftly as the most tripped-out existential alien fantasy adventure. Of course, even the alien tales are based on elements of the human condition, but sometimes it’s nice for Dandy to have another actual human to relate to in a universe full of non-humans.

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The only two recurring human characters are Honey, with whom Dandy has a more playful, less personal relationship, while Scarlett has been teased before as a more serious, mature potential mate for the Dandy, and despite the fact she looks down on him, it’s clear she’s simply doesn’t have that many other choices out there. Space is so big, the saying “Not even if you were the only man in the galaxy” is a claim that can be legitimately tested.

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That’s exactly what happens when Scarlett asks Dandy to enter into a contract whereby he pretends to be her boyfriend, a plot line normally reserved for high school romantic comedies, but which can be an endless font of said comedy in the right hands, and Space Dandy’s are almost always the right hands. But because this is also a sci-fi show, Dandy can also blend elements of that genre; specifically, Gundam.

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In a bit of a masterstroke, Scarlett’s ex Dolph is a Gundam pilot who utilizes its capabilities to stalk her incessantly. It’s a hilarious look at the possible downsides of putting emotionally weak or stunted young men in such powerful machines. The close-up of the mecha’s red-glowing eyes being repurposed from igniting fighting spirit a to creepy obsessiveness.

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Going to Planet Trendy, which has any possible date setting trendy young couples crave, allows for lots of different environments in which Dandy and Scarlett carry out their week of fake romance in hopes Dolph will get the picture and go away. He doesn’t, but sticking him in the corner of every idyllic romantic setting makes for great visual gags.

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Also deliciously ironic: while Scarlett is behind the desk of the Alien Registration office, Dandy only ever has failure to show her, but while on their dates, he keeps ending up “hunting” (i.e., being chased by) legit rare aliens. It’s almost as if Scarlett is his unwitting muse. This sudden rise in fortune for Dandy mostly irks Scarlett because he’s doing this stuff on their dates, when he’s supposed to be looking after her.

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This episode is packed with so many great moments, like Dandy and Scarlett parting ways at the end of the day, only to come running at the sound of her scream. Turns out it’s only a spider, but that spider is horrifying, and in the act of neutralizing it, Dandy destroys her entire house, after which the two can only laugh about it. It’s nice to see Scarlett’s hair down, armor off, and cheeks flushed.

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Eventually, Dolph can’t take it anymore, alights from his Gundam, punches Dandy out, and gets way too close to Scarlett. Dandy realizes that the only way to get rid of him for good is to kiss her, and that sends Dolph into a fury worthy of a climactic Gundam episode, only he’s arrested, jailed, and has a restraining order filed against him. With Dolph off her back, all that’s left is to end her arrangement with Dandy, a day early, too…but their parting is melancholy, and both end up back at home feeling miserable that it’s over.

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The icing on the cake of this episode is one last gorgeously staged romantic interlude, where the two meet at the bar like they were scheduled to, only Dandy is just a minute or so too late, and so the storybook happy ending doesn’t happen. Things go back to normal with Scarlett at the office and Dandy showing up with crap, but they exchange looks that indicate that things are at least a little different.

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Space Dandy 2 – 06

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This week on Space Dandy, love is in the air…sometimes. A co-worked convinces Scarlet to look after her love life better by attending a Space Mixer, but Scarlet is quickly disillusioned and gets too drunk, which leads to her finding seemingly the perfect man: Gentle Nobra, who invites her aboard his giant purple cloud-mansion ship.

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Gentle is a Cloudian, who just so happens to be the alien Dandy & Co. have been searching for in vain for over six months. Dandy is starved half-to-death and has love on his mind, but once he gets some food in him at the all-you-can-eat-buffet, he returns to normal. That buffet happens to be the same mixer where Scarlet is.

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Believing Scarlet was abducted by the Cloudian, Dandy hauls ass to intercept the cloud ship, passing through it like the cloud in Castle in the Sky, but finds that Scarlet is fine where she is and resents Dandy’s mere presence. Then Gentle gets a distress call from Honey, who was abducted by Dr. Gel to get intel on Dandy.

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Dr. Gel underestimates Honey, who is able to escape from his clutches, and an angered Gentle crushes his ship with his. We later learn that Honey is Gentle’s half-Cloudian half-sister, for what it’s worth. Gentle loses his cloud, making him useless as Dandy’s bounty, but he vows to make a new one.

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Gentle reminded us of Tuxedo Mask from Preston’s Sailor Moon program, while a few of Scarlet’s reactions to him reminded me of Usagi from the same show. There was also a persistent, reverbed laugh track accompanying the cross-banter, lending the episode a distinct sitcom-y feel.

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Perhaps this was just a send-up of how ridiculous and nonsensical romance anime can get, especially when fantasy elements are included. It was also one more opportunity to demonstrate Dr. Gel’s incompetence. It’s nutty, and a little unfocused, but all-in-all not a bad ride.

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Space Dandy 2 – 05

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After a middling high school musical episode, Dandy bounces back with a particularly spiffy alien twist on the classic “Big Fish” adventure. It starts as an ordinary fishing trip, with QT lording his expertise over everyone, until Meow suggests they fish for something that will make them money. To whit: the legendary Munagi of the planet Kayu.

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A bit of defining: we learned after watching that Munagi means “ridgepole” while Kayu means “porridge.” And Kayu indeed is a world with an exceedingly thick, goopy, viscous ocean. The world is also suitably alien and bizarre-looking, looking influenced by some canny combination of Dali, Seuss, Dunning, and Hokusai.

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When the Aloha Oe is stuck in space kelp(!), Dandy teleports to Kayu and meets the small, adorable Erssime, who lives with her grandfather(?) L’Delise, a seasoned fisherman. These two happen to be the only ones who, like Dandy, believe in the Munagi, but L’Delise wants nothing to do with Dandy and snorts at his feeble attempts to catch it.

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We’re treated to another lovely Dandy montage of Dandy and Erssime fishing in various strange landscapes. Eventually some other locals laugh at Dandy for believing the ramblings of a little kid and a weird old man. The legend doesn’t even make sense: the Munagi is said to come on a blue moon, but Kayu has no moon.

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But then, one stormy night, a blue moon does appear; in actuality it’s the blue Rubini Comet, which last passed by Kayu 3600 years ago, matching the timing of the Munagi legend. L’Delise and Dandy put their differences aside and, with the help of Erssime, Meow, QT, and a gaggle of convinced locals, get a good grip on the emerging Munagi.

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Ultimately, the King Munagi and all of its smaller subjects are far to collossal to be caught, and in any case they’ve risen to the surface in order to hitch a ride on the very comet that deposited them at Kayu nearly four milennia ago. They lost the Munagi, but everyone is safe, and the collective experience brought everyone closer together.

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Dandy, Meow, and QT end up in the same place they were in the beginning: fishing, with Meow suggesting they catch something profitable. After all, there are plenty of fish (-populated planets) in the sea (of stars). Unlike the high school ep, this one took it well-tread story—the Big Fish Tale—and put a truly creative, whimsical spin on it.

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Space Dandy 2 – 04

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There are Space Dandy episodes I can run out onto the parquet dance floor and bust various moves with, and then there are those where I’m just kind of chilling in the periphery of the venue, sitting on a folding chair, sipping some punch, and tapping my foot, half to the beat, half impatiently. This was one of those latter episodes.

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Dandy has done a lot of different stuff, but hadn’t tackled the “high school musical” genre yet. But it just didn’t feel like its heart was in it in the same way it is for all of its trippy, metaphysical, and high concept episodes. As Dandy remarks upon first meeting his future prom date, much of the episode had a “well-honed plainness” to it. Much of the ground it covers has already been covered in better ways.

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A good musical, high school or no, has to have good songs, but most of the songs here were seriously lacking. The lyrics were dull, simplistic, and repetitive, and the pacing of the song and dance numbers dragged on way too long: the Queen Bee describing the school’s caste pyramid took up way too much time, and even if the awkward pacing was intentional, it just felt like stalling.

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That said, it was still a fun episode with some good bits: Dandy getting shot down by increasingly alien girls, and the 80’s-style pre-prom training montage, and the fact the girl was the rare alien Dandy enrolled to the school to find in the first place, but he, QT and Meow simply forgot about by the end. With Dandy, if you don’t like one episode, just move on to the next.

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Space Dandy 2 – 03

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“Oh shut up. If we have this, we could do this and that, and then that’ll happen, and we’ll be able to eat as much as we want.”

This is Dandy’s defense this after Meow scolds him for buying a sketchy teleporting flashlight instead of food because the lady who sold it to him was hot. It also serves as a tidy and prescient synopsis for their adventures to come, which are many in number and absolutely insane in nature. Seriously, there hasn’t been a Dandy this free-wheelingly, awesomely nutty in quite a while, and yet it all holds together quite nicely when you remember Dandy’s above line.

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Essentially, the episode is a treatise on the merits of another one of Dandy’s lines, and the title of the episode itself: “Good things come to those who wait [baby].” That applies as much to us the audience as it does Dandy, Meow, and QT, as the episode is deliberately roundabout and baroque in its storytelling, and initially quite head-scratching and surreal. For a few minutes there, we had no idea what was going on. Like Dandy’s head, we were just…watching a fish set up an umbrella and beach towel.

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From the first scene at the space mall that accentuated the crippling amount of choice was available to Dandy and Meow to the “fistronaut’s” futuristic underground city, this was also one of the more detail and vista-packed episodes of Dandy in a while, though all of its episodes are pretty intricate. The episode also had fun with physics, astronomy, and relativity, and dished out some very painterly, lyrical animation for the boat trip up the water column from Planet Pushy Boyfriend to Planet Girlfriend. Even those random names describe the planets pretty well in their way.

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There are a lot of familiar Dandyisms on display here: from Meow’s hunger leading to crazy adventures, to Dandy snatching perceptiveness out of the jaws of ignorance, to Dr. Gel almost capturing Dandy, to a hastily-told but intricate look into the worlds orbiting one of the countless stars in space. Dandy and Meow also witness a couple more ends: both the end of the short-sighted civilization of arrogant, mean-spirited, clothed fish, to the fishtronaut himself, who turns into grilled fish that is the food Dandy promised the flashlight would ultimately provide.

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Also like many other Dandy episodes, this one has high re-watch value, though there’s nothing like being blissfully in the dark and wondering precisely how (or if) the show is going to divine a coherent resolution from all the colorful chaos. And no show airing now is quite as good at bending my minds and making me hungry at the same time. If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to attempt to locate some grilled fish. The more interesting the life they’ve lived, the tastier they are.

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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)

 

Monday Music – Space Dandy – Searching for Code D

As we said in this the review of episode 9, Space Dandy does some great montages. We’re apparently not alone in this opinion, as Funimation/Adult Swim saw fit to use the minute-plus of Planet Planta-trekking to promote the show on YouTube. Enjoy!

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)