Space Dandy 2 – 13 (Fin)

sd1300

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.

sd1301

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.

sd1303

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.

sd1305

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.

sd1304

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.

sd1307

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.

sd1308

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.

sd1309

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.

sd1310

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.

sd1311

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.

sd1313

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.

9_ses

Space Dandy 2 – 12

sd121

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.

sd122

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.

sd123

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.

sd124

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.

sd125

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.

sd126

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.

sd127

The super-serious end credits were pretty awesome too.

9_ses

Space Dandy 2 – 11

sd111
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.

sd112
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.

sd113

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.

sd114

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.

sd115

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.

sd116

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).

sd117

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.

9_ses

Space Dandy 2 – 07

sd71

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.

sd72

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.

sd73

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.

sd74

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.

sd75

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.

sd76

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.

sd78

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!

sd782

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.

9_ses

Space Dandy – 11

dandy111

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.

dandy112

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!

8_great
Rating: 8 
(Great)

Space Dandy – 02

dandy2-1

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.

dandy2-2a

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)