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 – 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)