Jan 21

Anime Review – Space Dandy

The Dandiest man to have Danded a man… wait that came out wrong.

Space Dandy, he’s a dandy man, in space! That pretty much sums up the show. It’s made by the creator of Cowboy Bebop, but nothing like that show so forget about that. One of the most hyped anime of the current season, even I heard about it and I’m so far outside the general anime community I need binoculars to see it, to peer at it and plot my assassination attempt. Forget that, too. Wait, what were we talking about again?

If you thought that was a little unnecessarily random then this show isn’t going to be for you.

Dandy’s an alien hunter, not in a bounty hunter sort of way, but someone who gets uncategorised aliens and brings them in for money so they can be catalogued. He does this by hanging around a Hooters like bar, called Boobies, for some fanservice while his robot buddy does all the work. That’s the first half of episode one, fanservice and the occasional forth wall breaking humour. While the show may boast about Boobies having all kinds of alien “hotties” on staff almost all we ever see is big boobed human women because this is for fanservice not comedy. If it was trying to be funny it’d show “ugly” women trying to get with Dandy, but it’s quite clear this isn’t the case.

The second half picks up a bit with some wacky hijinks in places and planets that don’t have walking breasts. That part of it is actually a fun show and the ending to it all is great, with everyone dying, leaving a big “OK, what’ll they do to get around this” question. The next episode teaser pretty much goes “don’t care; we’re just going to ignore that and get on with the show.” That was funny, but here’s the problem; there’s just too much going on that’s trying to be funny. That ending being the only great moment in the three episodes out right now.

It just tries so hard to be funny, to grab the audience, and because of that it all becomes a mess. It goes from meta humour, to character jokes on peoples fascination with boobs, to just full on fanservice (no real irony involved in switching from mocking boob loving protagonists to just becoming a full fanservice show), to slapstick over the top comedy about catching giant aliens and pulling on literal cosmic strings. The most identity the show has is that the main character is a goofball who just plays things by ear till something happens. The rest is just a smattering of different tastes screaming “LIKE ME! SOMEONE PLEASE LIKE ME!”

Episode 2 is a rather mundane hunt for the greatest noodles in the universe, and episode 3 has less of the random comedy but is incredibly cliché and predictable. It does, beat for beat, the sci-fi staple of finding a “hot innocent women in need of rescuing, the two men fight over her, but she turns out to be a monster trying to eat them.” There are no inversions, nothing clever, or even a sly hanging lampshade. They just play the cliché straight, and it is dull. At the end the alien turns into a giant boob monster right out of a terrible 90s anime. Now that would’ve been funny if they actually tried doing some meta humour on that, but nope.

There’s also a running gag of an alien space fleet coming after Dandy in every episode. Each week they have two scenes, one where they show up, and one later when they leave again. They never have any true contact with Dandy, save for some robots in episode 2, and he doesn’t notice them coming for him at all. They also fly around in the head of the statue of liberty with a ball gag in its mouth. Why? Another random attempt to get a reaction from the audience.

However the animation is very pretty. A lot of good work went into making every part of this show look great and have a lot of energy to it. There’s clearly been a lot of effort in the alien designs, sometimes having a faux Flash Gordon aesthetic for the other sci-fi designs, and quite a lot of other stuff too numerous to mention. The writing doesn’t seem to follow that, though. It could get better, there’s certainly a lot of potential here. But right now it’s just very disappointing. Especially since they went to so much effort to get this simcast in English and Japanese, being broadcast at the same time around the world with a dub and sub. The dub is also good, they’ve captured Dandy’s energy for thinking he’s an old school sci-fi hero, and failing miserably at it, and his utter disinterest at anything that doesn’t occupy his ever changing whim in that second.

This is not recommended. It tries way too hard to be funny and interesting, and fails horribly. It just throws everything at the audience to get them to like it. Fanservice, mechs, sci-fi clichés, lolrandom humour, forth wall jokes, fanservice, pretty animation, references to pop culture, and lots of fanservice. Skip it and don’t bother.