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Space Dandy Season 1 Complete Collection Limited Edition Blu-ray Anime Review

10 min read
Space Dandy Season 1 Limited Edition
Space Dandy Season 1 Limited Edition

Just because a show is filled with stupid humor and silly nonsense does not make the show stupid.

What They Say:
He’s a Dandy Guy in Space.

Shinichiro Watanabe is back to blow minds with a madcap comic masterpiece that will melt your face if you sit too close to the television. Believe it, baby!

Rocket into the outer limits with the one and only Dandy! This dreamy space case and his to-die-for pompadour jet across the galaxy in search of aliens no one has ever laid eyes on. Capturing rare species may pay the bills, baby, but Dandy would rather kick back and enjoy the scenery at the nearest Boobies. Joined by his misfit sidekicks – a rundown vacuum cleaner robot called QT and Meow the alien space cat – Dandy boldly goes where no daper don has ever gone before. Hotly pursued by the chimp-faced Dr. Gel, the adventures of Dandy and the gang will make you laugh, then cry, and then laugh till you cry all over again. Buckle up for blast off, baby! You’re cruising with the Dandy now, and he don’t stop till the end of the universe.

Contains episodes 1-13.

The Review:
Audio:
For this viewing, I listened to the 48 kHz 1.7-2.4 Mbps (the rate varied during playback) 5.1 DolbyTrueHD English track. The sound is clear without any notable dropouts or distortions. This is a proper 5.1 mix and has noticeable directionality at the times when it’s called for. As much of the show is talking, however, you’re not going to notice it too much for long stretches of time. All sound levels were well balanced so that dialogue could be heard clearly.

Video:
Originally airing in 2014, the show is presented in its original aspect ration of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The video is crisp and clean without any noticeable signs of distortion or compression artifacts. The show features a very bright color palette and the video captures this well as colors even on my not-professionally calibrated TV were very vibrant and rich. This is a very good transfer. Bluray disc 1 holds episodes 1-10, with the remaining three episodes on a second disc along with the vast bulk of the on-disc extras.

Packaging:
This is the “regular” or “vanilla” Limited Edition, however you would like to call it, pretty much in line with most FUNimation LEs for their regular releases and priced the same. The artbox is the same as that included in the two more exclusive Limited Editions (the Amazon exclusive and the FUNimation exclusive, which were reviewed previously by Chris Beveridge). It’s a thick chipboard box in a colorful style that fits the show. The front cover has Dandy playing his guitar (when did he ever play guitar in the show?) while the villains of the series (Dr. Gel, Bea and Admiral Perry of the Gogol Empire) stand behind him…as the rest of his band, apparently. The back cover features Honey, the main girl from Boobies. The top panel and spine are done in yellow with the show logos as well as a spiral design underneath it. Inside the box there is a spacer box that holds the art cards that come in all the limited edition releases and also provides a spot for the second half when that comes out.

The bluray case itself is slightly thicker than normal as it’s a four-disc case holding both the BDs and DVDs on flippy hinge holders. The keepcase coverart uses the more familiar image of Dandy with Meow and QT alongside him set against a nebula and stars. The back cover uses the yellow with gray spiral design with another picture of the main trio off to the right side as well as a decent strip of shots from the show along the bottom. Otherwise, the back of the keepcase insert is very text-heavy, with the catalog copy and all the extras clearly listed. The technical grid breaks both formats out in a solid and easy to read way as well. You’ll notice that the insert sheet slotted into the back of the artbox (which will fall out if you remove the shrinkwrap) is identical to this back cover. The keepcase insert also has artwork on the reverse side with the main panel featuring another stylized image of the main trio while the left panel breaks down the show by episodes and titles as well as a section for the extras set next to Honey in a very different outfit (which I don’t recall ever seeing in the show).

NOTE: When you receive your set, if you hear a rattling sound and think “Oh dammit, a floater,” don’t despair just yet. That could just be the art cards, which move around freely in the spacer box and make a very unsettling rattling noise, similar to a loose disc.

Menu:
The menu design is clean and functional. In the background there are clips from the show set to a piece of BGM. Access times are fast. One new option here is the Marathon Play (in addition to the usual Play All) choice, which does just what you would expect it to do: it plays all of the episodes, but skips the OP and ED animations as well as the next episode previews. The only pauses are the eye-catches and the “To Be Continued” end cards. For the binge viewer, this will be your go to option unless you like watching OPs and EDs or prefer to press the chapter skip button repeatedly while viewing.

Extras:
On-disc: The show comes with a quite impressive array of extras, though the major ones feature the production staff at FUNimation, so their value will vary depending on your personal interests. The first disc has two episode commentaries, one for Episode 1 and one for Episode 10, which are quite similar to other episode commentaries on FUNimation releases. The second disc has a very long behind the scenes featurette (Dandy Guy in Space Part 1) clocking in at about 35 minutes that interviews several of the production staff at FUNimation who were involved in producing their release and the English dub. In addition, there is a collection of commercials, two promotional videos, and home video release commercial spots. As usual, we also get the US trailer, a selection of trailers for other FUNimation shows and the textless versions of the opening and ending.

Physical pack-in: Included in the spacer box (which itself features line art from the show) are five limited edition art cards featuring promotional artwork of the main trio, as well as a couple images of Honey with the main trio. They’re printed on good quality card stock.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As this show has already been reviewed three times, once during the simulcast and twice for the two exclusive LE editions, there is little need to rehash in detail the basic premise and plot (such as it is) again. Space Dandy is an Earthling who makes a living (though not that good a living) as an alien hunter in a universe that is teeming with life and offers bounties to those who can bring new examples of it to the attention of the authorities (so that they can register the new life form). He’s also a narcissistic jerk who thinks only of himself and how often he can get to go to his favorite restaurant in the universe, a Hooters knockoff called…of course…”Boobies.” His partner QT, an old and somewhat outdated (but still useful) robot, is the saner and wiser of the pair. Early on, they take aboard their ship, the Aloha Oe, a cat-like alien from Betelgeuse whose name neither Dandy nor QT bother to learn properly, so they just call him Meow. While he is humanoid-sized, Meow does share quite a few traits with cats, such as being lazy and easily distracted. The show is basically episodic in that Dandy and friends go in search of undiscovered aliens…with varying results, though they fail more often than they succeed.

There is no plot as such. There are running gags, such as the constant trips to various Boobies outlets, as the chain appears to have locations almost everywhere in the known Universe. Also, it appears that Dandy himself might hold the key to universal rule, or at least Admiral Perry (very funny, Japan) of the Gogol Empire, one of the contenders for universal domination, thinks so. So, he has dispatched his top scientist and underling, Dr. Gel, to capture Dandy. Dr. Gel seems like an escapee from the Planet of the Apes and is accompanied by his trusty sidekick Bea. It should be clear by now that this show is filled with homages and references to any number of things, both fictional and real.

Space Dandy is really a grab bag in terms of story content. There are a large range of episodic adventures, several of which end with the deaths of all involved…which makes no difference since they’re right back where they started in the next episode. There is even a time loop episode that manages to invoke both Groundhog Day and “Endless Eight.” If you want sentiment, you’ll probably like episode 3, which features Dandy interacting with your standard lovable tyke. For love, the final episode of this season is a love story…even if it features an unusual couple. If you like parody horror, you will want to check out episode 4, their homage to all things zombie. If it’s an old trope or conventional space-based story, they probably have done it during the course of the thirteen episodes here.

What is more notable in many ways is the visual execution. From that perspective, this work features several examples of inspired visual experimentation, pushing the art of animation to its limit at times. The first episode is a visual tour de force of fluid motion and vivid color. Episode 11 stood out even just a little more than the rest of the show, featuring a very different style, much more subdued with color almost absent. Almost none of the episodes looked bad or felt like they relied too much on shortcuts or reused animation.

So, when it comes down to it, Space Dandy really only has two things going for it: aesthetic pleasure from the visual beauty of it and some wacky humor and gags to keep you from noticing that the stories are basically lifted from everywhere else. For that humor, it was pretty stupid for the most part, just like the characters who themselves are even noted for their stupidity by the Narrator during the space-racing episode (which followed all the tropes and conventions of racing stories to a T). It was stupid, but fortunately I found it mostly of the inoffensively stupid variety than the “oh, please, enough already” kind. However, your personal mileage may well vary greatly.

This is not a classic for the ages. It is a quite entertaining show that features well-trod stories, filled with fairly unsophisticated humor that all plays out against visual virtuosity that blows most anime productions today out of the water.

As I watched the dub, I should perhaps say a few things about it. I did not watch this show during its original streaming run, so I have not heard the Japanese track at all, except in very small snippets. Ian Sinclair is quite appropriately self-absorbed and clueless as Dandy, while Alison Viktorin’s QT is both cute and slightly odd-sounding, as her voice has been auto-tuned randomly, much as we expect robots to sound (it’s similar to the effect used in Miss Monochrome). Joel McDonald’s Meow has a slightly sarcastic edge at times when needed, but also brings through the character’s essential stupidity (actually, they’re all pretty stupid and convey that well enough in their voicing). All of the other actors capture the essence of their characters well, though I don’t have the space to go through all the roles.

In Summary:
Space Dandy really is pretty much what it says it is…a dandy in space if…your vision of a “dandy” is a guy who looks like a 1950s greaser. The stories were very conventional, the humor was stupid, though not offensively so. What was most impressive was the power of the visuals, which are in a class by themselves for the most part. It is an amazing show to watch, but don’t expect the artistic innovation to be matched on the story side.

Features:
English 5.1 DolbyTrueHD Audio, Japanese 2.0 DolbyTrueHD Audio, English subtitles, Dandy Guy in Space: Part 1, Episode Commentaries (1, 10), Textless Opening and Closing, Volume 1 Teaser Trailer, Promotional Videos, Commercials, Blu-ray & DVD Commercials, U.S. Trailer.

FUNimation regular Limited Edition Items: Five (5) Limited Edition Art Cards; chipboard artbox.

Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: A
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: A-
Menu Grade: A-
Extras Grade: A-

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
MSRP: $69.98
Running Time: 325 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL-32S5100 32-Inch 1080p LCD HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Sony Bravia DAV-HDX589W 5.1-Channel Theater System connected via digital optical cable.

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