Shokugeki no Souma 3 – 18 – INFINHONEY WAR

SPOILER WARNING: This review contains *major* spoilers for the Marvel film Avengers: Infinity War. This serves as a warning not to read on if you have not seen it yet and do not wish to be spoiled. Furthermore, there are a number of references to the MCU herein, so if you don’t know nothing about (or hate) any of that stuff, you have my apologies.

Let me make some comparisons. If Totsuki is the universe, Nakiri Azami is Thanos. Thanos wants to cleave away all of what he deems to be unnecessary excess form the universe, just as Azami wants to do the same with the academy. In both cases their end product will be something harmonious and sustainable only they had the will to make possible, and are convinced that once they’re done the universe (and academy) will be grateful for their efforts.

Polar Star and its allies represent the Avengers. However noble Thanos/Azami believe themselves or their efforts to be, they are, on a human scale, amoral and must be opposed. I won’t get bogged down into which chef is which Avenger, but suffice it to say that Azami has been their greatest foe to date, and this week they take their heaviest losses, which will make an already uphill battle feel…well, even more uphill.

Hayama Akira isn’t trying to save anybody other than Shiomi Jun and the research lab they built together, and decided the best way to do that was to accept and join Azami’s Central regime. But even Jun herself cannot support his decision. In joining Central he creates a rift, and for the first time, she isn’t there to watch him from the sidelines.

At first, it doesn’t seem like that matters. Soue, Cilla and Berta can tell Akira’s chicken-fried bear is superior to Souma’s dish before it even touches their lips, and upon finally digging in, Soue has a full-blown Explosion (the family history of which is hilariously explained by Gin). The sisters try in vain to identify all of the chemical reactions going on, but are overcome by their foodgasms.

Akira’s bear and dipping sauce combine to form a one-two punch to put the metaphorically boxing Souma on the ropes, and creating another metaphor: that of an impenetrable fortress of flavor mastery. The only problem is, Akira locked himself in that fortress alone.

It isn’t over yet, because the judges still have to try Souma’s dipping sauce (in an interesting twist, considering you’d think they’d have finished the first dish before starting Akira’s, and not mixed them in their palates). To everyone’s amazement, Souma’s sauce…is just plain better, do in large part to his use of a very specific kind of honey.

Suoe’s reaction is even stronger, evolving from “The Explosion” to “The Gift”, in which his spontaneous disrobing expands in waves to the sisters (though in the very next scene their clothes are back on…continuity!) With Akira’s superior bear and Souma’s superior sauce, the sisters split their votes, leaving Suoe to break the 1-1 tie.

It’s here where I’ll break out another Avengers metaphor and compare Souma to Tony Stark. Sure, he’s no monetary billionaire, but he has an embarrassment of human riches at his disposal, along with Hokkaido’s vast natural bounty. Like Tony, his ambition to improve his skills and his drive to never stop tinkering is virtually boundless. It has to be; just as Tony has no innate superpowers, Souma lacks a superhuman sense of taste or smell.

Souma ran Kuga’s Chinese RS battalion ragged darting from mountain to valley to stream and back again, collecting every flavor in the bear’s habitat that could be exploited to improve the dish even one tiny amount. He approached his culinary testing with a passion Akira simply didn’t match, because Akira was so focused on protecting Jun that he was relegated to testing without her insights or anyone else’s.

While Souma caught up with him, Akira actually backtracked; as delicious as his bear is, it can’t match the passion that went into his Autumn Elections-winning dish. And he knows it. Moreover, he sought perfection and balance in his dish, but gave no thought to who it was for, while Souma’s was painstakingly crafted specifically for Akira to taste it and say it was delicious.

Jun arrives on cue to give Akira a well-deserved slap across the face (Guardian of the Year Jun, everyone!) and tell him continuing the research lab doesn’t matter to her anymore. All she wants is for Akira to keep having fun cooking with kids his own age…because he is still a kid, after all.

Her sentiments hit Akira hard, and his eyes go glassy as a result. Suoe casts the deciding vote naming Souma the victor, Souma says his “Glad you enjoyed it” catchphrase, and we move on to whatever is next. Erina arrives, short of breath and mussed of hair, to learn to her great relief, that Souma has survived his latest trial.

But Jun’s wish for Akira to cook with his friends hits a snag. As a result of losing to Souma, Azami sends his aide Ebony Maw Sean Aida to inform him he’s been summarily expelled. Not only that, the rebellion has been decimated: Hisako, Ryo, Nikumi, Asami, Shun, Zenji, Daigo, Shiouji, Ryouko, Yuuki, and Alice…are all expelled.

That’s a purge to rival (or exceed) the effects of The Snap on the Avengers, and leaves you in a similar defeated mood, completely overshadowing Souma’s momentous achievement of finally beating Akira.

Megumi and Tekumi weren’t in the montage, nor were lesser potential rebels in Nao, Miyoko, Subaru, etc. But how in the hell are Souma, Erina, and whoever else managed to survive the massacre going to proceed? Something tells me Carol Danvers’ cooking skills aren’t gonna cut it…

Flying Witch – 11

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Flying Witch goes big with the magic this week, and Makoto, Akane, and Chinatsu have a…ahem…whale of a time. An ethereal postman delivers the newspaper for the witching world, and news comes that a whale will be flying over Aomori soon. The girls fly out on their brooms early in the morning to try to spot it. And flying witches on Flying Witch are always welcome!

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The massive stone whale is also a Laputa-esque flying island covered in gardens and fish pools, and extensive ruins, and when the girls gain access to the “flight deck” they find Shiina Anzu, budding archaeologist, already there exploring.

There’s a palpable sense of awe and grandeur to the big flying whale, and the segment owes much to films like Castle in the Sky, but with FW’s own easygoing atmosphere. Yes, this is a big deal, and everyone’s stoked about being on this whale, but there’s no possibility of harm or of anything sinister happening.

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Despite being abandoned long ago, the whale is a bringer of joy and wonder to everyone’s hearts. But the girls can’t just stay up there forever; for one thing, stomachs are starting to growl. So they say goodbye to their new giant flying friend and head to Casa Kuramoto for the newest installment of Kei’s Cooking Corner. Anzu joins Makoto, Akane and Chinatsu, and gets to see her anthropology mentor, the wise and well-traveled Kenny.

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From flying on brooms to exploring floating whale ruins to conversing with cats, this episode gave me my magical fix, so the addition of some down-home hotcake-making and eating was the icing on the cake, as was the arrival of Anzu’s owl familiar with a lengthy bill for Akane from Anzu’s Mom’s cafe. Better scrounge together some cash to pay that, big sis!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to try Kei’s method of layering batter to make thicker hotcakes. It’s such a simple technique I feel pretty dumb for never thinking to augment my frisbee-thin pancakes…

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Flying Witch – 10

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In this brisk, breezy episode, we have two distinct segments: cooking class and apple tree thinning. In the first, Makoto and Kei provide moral support and the occasional pointer as Nao, who believes she’s cursed in the kitchen, makes a pretty tasty-looking Hamburg steak from scratch.

While nervous and weary at first, Nao eventually gets the hang of the smells and sensations of working with the raw ingredients, and gets to experience the sense of victory one feels upon completing a dish. She also gets freaked out by Makoto’s cookies that look just like witche’s fingers, and no one remembers to steam any rice.

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Things get more pastoral and idyllic in part two, when everyone (even Akane) get up early and head to the apple orchard to cull the blooms in order to enable the growth of fruit. Both Makoto and Akane feel the sting of not looking where they’re going, and Akane feels bad for the blooms that are snipped, but as Kei remarks, they have a use too, as nutrients for the soil.

Makoto gets a lovely view from the short tree-tops upon her ladder, which is very different from flying on a broom, and meets one of the bees that pollenates the orchard. The bee doesn’t sting, but it does bite her, and Kei shoos it away. But in the end, Makoto gets to dip one of her creepy cookies in the fruit of the bees, i.e. fresh honey. Delicious.

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Shokugeki no Souma – 03

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Food Wars episode 3 opens with a quick profile of the third main character, after Souma and Erina: Tadokoro Megumi, who isn’t much like either of them other than the fact she loves cooking. But she just barely eked into the high school division, and if she receives one more “E” or failing grade, she’ll be expelled, and have to return to her home village in shame.

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During the opening ceremony, Megumi and everyone else learns what kind of person Yukihira Souma is, when he’s given the stage to state that he’ll be one of the students one can count on one’s hand who will remain from the thousand first-years presently assembled. It’s cocky, but in reality TV parlance he’s not there to make friends, but win. It’s up to them to answer that challenge and beat him back…if they can. Whining and steaming over his audacity won’t do any good.

Erina doesn’t understand this, because she’s an entitled garbage person who is insulted when Souma talks to her like a fellow human being and classmate rather than the goddess-on-earth she believes herself to be. I wouldn’t be surprised if her gramps didn’t just let Souma into his school because he deserved to get it, but also to give his granddaughter, who is way to comfortable and haughty, a worthy challenger to her primacy.

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Megumi is confident she’ll be okay if she simply keeps her head down and doesn’t make herself conspicuous, but fate chooses a different path, as she’s paired up with Souma, the last person someone who wants to blend into the background wants to have for a partner. This means a lot of the splashback of the very strong hate directed at Souma inevitably lands on Megumi, simply due to her proximity to their object of loathing.

Even so, Souma simply engages her like a normal person would, introducing himself and stating he’s looking forward to working with her. He’s able to tease the reason for her anxiety without any trouble, but from where he’s standing, as long as Megumi’s on his team, she won’t have to worry about expulsion, because failure isn’t even in his mind.

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Even so, Megumi is not optimistic, as by foul luck she and Souma also landed one of the academy’s toughest instructors, Chapelle, who only grades pass/fail. The class has two make boeuf bourguignon, which like eggs, is a very good test of a budding chef’s skills and instincts.

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Things don’t go well at first: Souma’s never made the dish before, and a rival pair resorts to sabotage to knock Souma out (with Megumi presumably a reasonable collateral victim) by dousing their pot with salt, ruining the meat.

Souma detects the sabotage, but with only 30 minutes, there isn’t time to start over and make the dish the prescribed way. So he doesn’t: he massages the meat with honey, which not only contains protease, an enzyme that breaks down proteins to achieve the desired tenderness, but also has a long shelf life (properly-sealed honey can last centuries).

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Thanks to this innovation that Souma had once read about and studied on his own, without any fancypants instruction, saves the day, just when it looked like Game Over for Megumi. The boeuf bourguignon not only transports Megumi and Chapelle to a sylvan paradise where they’re enrobed in and swim naked in lakes of pure honey, but also makes the “chef who never smiles” smile. They get an “A”, but Chapelle mentions he’d rate them even higher if he could.

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Also, this is a show about justice, and the saboteurs get their comeuppance by burning their sauce and then accidentally dropping salt into their own pot, resulting in an “E” grade and possible expulsion.

Souma is Megumi’s uber-confident knight, which is fine, though I wish she hadn’t been presented as such a helpless damsel in distress. I wonder what her beef would have faired had those goons not sabotaged her. I also think sticking around Souma will help her gain confidence in her own skills, which combined with moral support from her home village, should be able to sustain her through these tough three years.

Of course, just when Megumi is thinking Souma isn’t so bad, he goes and shoves honey-pickled squid into her mouth, resulting in a very similar food-fantasy to that other ill-fated classmate Souma fed peanut butter squid to. Almost too similar, really.

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When Erina hears from her lieutenant Arato that Chapelle aced Souma, she doubles down on her shitty attitude, forbidding Souma’s name from being spoken in her presence, and so forth. She’s not interested in acknowledging his resourceful, innovative gastronomic mind, to say nothing of entertaining collaboration, which may enrich both young chefs.

No, she just wants to CRUSH him like the insignificant bug she regards him as. Here’s hoping she fails spectacularly, and someday learns how to properly treat others. And here’s hoping Megumi is able to stand on her own two feet in future battles.

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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 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 – 01

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Space Dandy is back, baby! But as Dandy himself laments in the middle of this particularly chaotic episode, they “came back too much.” After trying to pass a cow off as an alien, Scarlett gives them a stern life counseling session, suggesting they may not be cut out for alien hunting, being the worst such hunters she’s ever seen.

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As they ponder a future in space trucking, Dandy pulls at a stray hair on his head, it gets longer and longer until it envelops him, Meow and QT and zaps them into another dimension, where there is another set of Dandy, Meow, and QT (and Honey), only this set is much better at their jobs. They notice another stray hair, tug at it, and the process repeats.

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They’re not stray hairs, but cosmic strings, and continually tugging at them zaps the crew from one alternate universe to another, in all of which some form of Dandy & Crew exist. Those forms get more and more bizarre until we end up with a scary Meow who simply stands around grinning and holding a helmet he never wears, QT as an old codger who thinks he’s a robot, and a gloomy Dandy who just wants to die, having clearly been around the other two for far too long.

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With all the alternate Dandy crews springing up in one universe, not only does the Aloha Oe get overstuffed with people, but the universe itself starts to become full of contradictory information, to the point where even the normally unflappable narrator begins bickering with other narrators over what exactly is going on in the episode. If this goes on it can’t end well.

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So the Dandys and their crews come together and decide to light the cosmic strings like fuses. When that happens, a big explosion occurs and the universe is seemingly back to normal, until it’s dropped on us that Gloomy Dandy and his two insufferably strange companions are the new cast moving forward. The show is just joking, but in the end, Scarlett was wrong about the Dandy, Meow, and QT she knew being the worst. There’s always worse.

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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 – 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)