What They Say:
Space Dandy is a dandy in space! This dreamy adventurer with a to-die-for pompadour travels across the galaxy in search of aliens no one has ever laid eyes on. Each new species he discovers earns him a hefty reward, but this dandy has to be quick on his feet because its first come first served! Accompanied by his sidekicks, a rundown robot named QT and Meow the cat-looking space alien, Dandy bravely explores unknown worlds inhabited by a variety aliens. Join the best dressed alien hunter in all of space and time as he embarks on an adventure that ends at the edge of the universe!
Whilst it is a shame it has the audio in only 2.0 English and 2.0 Japanese, it also has a 2.0 French track combined with having English and French subtitles. This is the second release in August that has had more than English and Japanese as languages and I continue to be very pleased for more accessibility in the market and feels more effort was taken into this series. The audio on all tracks is pretty good despite not being in the 5.1 Dolby Surround as only had to make a slight adjustment to my standard settings. No problems with audio synching with the visual or the subtitles and considering the episodes have a lot of either music or action, had no problems with the background noise, foley and the songs – all came through clear on my stereo system so very impressed.
Set on an 16:9 ratio in a fullscreen format over 3 discs, the animation is very off the wall and colourful, and is very in your face – no problems with it in sync with the audio especially considering how fast paced it is. There are no pause problems like when the picture goes out of focus at times, with no issues of slowdown or frame rate. It works well with this series in the fullscreen format in particular as the animation is so in your face you feel like you are going to miss something yet despite how fast it goes, everything is showcased perfectly and you appreciate the designs of all the characters, including the background ones and the alien designs to the nth degree.
Each menu is set up pretty similarly – there are clips from the show showcased horizontally in the middle of the menu screen with a yellow bar below it as the menu selections, which are Play All, Audio Set Up, Episodes, Credits and on disc 3, Extras. All are easily selectable and easy to access the show and menu from the main screen, however on Discs 1 and 3, the credits sections seemed to be blurry underneath a few people’s names (not on Disc 2 though) almost like they had been smudged. Unsure if this was just on the test disc and is fine on the main one in a small extra, but it is very noticeable.
The extras are on disc 3 and are pretty basic – we have the clean ending and opening, as well as a clean ending specifically for episode 20, a.k.a. the musical episode which is Japanese only (disappointed as the English version was also very good but a minor quibble).
There is a large digital gallery which lasts 24 minutes and runs continuously, so it feels like you can’t just skip to the next one and it goes by too fast. On one hand, doesn’t give you time to enjoy them all but on the other hand, there is a lot of stuff, ranging from sketches, early designs of characters and locations, before going into colour sketches, more in-depth character designs and alternate colours and the final third we get the sketches evolving to the more finished product so it does feel like the storyboard process and how it evolves throughout before the final production.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Space Dandy. It is about a Dandy. In Space.
I didn’t review the first season but have seen the show thanks to a couple of my friends who are Dandy fans – the premise is very episodic, with a touch of history as people behind Cowboy Bebop were involved, we have almost the equivalent of a bounty hunter here, but Dandy is hunting for rare alien species instead to make ends meet. He gets two companions, a ‘not cat’ named Meow, and a robot buddy named QT with the occasional visit to a Denny’s parody called Boobies because Dandy needs food and has a bit of a rear fetish with the waitresses (and most attractive women) with a slight plot with an evil duo Admiral Perry and Dr Gel wish to capture Dandy who they believe is integral in being able to control the universe. The series for the most part is episodic in nature, with episode characters whether aliens or love interests, with a lot of comedy and some surprising sad and intelligent moments as well – but the first series ends a fair bit anticlimactically, which considering most of the show makes sense, but the fact there is a second season showcases that the adventures must continue but is there a story to be told here?
Most of Season 2 is pretty much the same formula, but surprisingly the first episode actually reverts to the actual plot if you will that Dandy somehow has a power linked to the entire universe. We are reintroduced to Scarlet – the rare alien species control who Dandy keeps trying to fob off alien species as rare, and when she denounces them, it is time to rethink their career. They find a strange string which when they pull – and sends them into alternate dimensions with alternate Dandies, whether they be Trucker Dandy to Space Hunter Dandy to everyone’s favourite, Emo Dandy. This leads to all the Dandies being brought together causing a bit of a warp in their own dimension leading to the original Dandy having to burn the links to all the other dimensions and return (with an amusing ending to Emo Dandy) – whilst it is a very wacky episode, it ironically brings you back to the ‘plot’ if you will and sets up the series finale.
Aside from that, a lot of the episodes are pretty much episodic in nature, with the odd fun bit and even some development, similar to Season 1. The second episode is about someone who has found Dandy’s smile infectious, and Dandy thinking it is a hot alien girl, obliges to find her…and turns out was a psychotic stalker like alien called Ukeleleman, but even there is a lesson to be learned – episode 3 on the other hand has Dandy spend their food money on a teleport device and drains the battery so they are teleported to a planet that will eventually be scorched by the sun – so trying to reunite a pair of fish as lovers…ends up pointless as the female fish doesn’t believe the sun will scorch them…but at least they get some food when the male fish is cooked. ^^ Yes, it is that kind of series.
So there is pretty much an episode of the day, with the villains occasionally showing on screen but never actively do anything for the most part – it is more enjoying Dandy’s hijinx. We get an episode where they infiltrate a school to find an alien, but instead ends up going to the Prom with a female classmate to try and change popularity barriers (not realising the alien he was searching was his date), or looking for rare alien fish whilst avoiding giant comets. There is one episode which does focus on Honey, the waitress at Boobies who is kidnapped by Dr. Gel as a connection to Dandy, but at the same time the hard edged connection to Dandy at the space alien bureau Scarlett is seemingly looking for love – which actually ties in a few episodes later with an interesting sub-plot. The kidnap showcases Dr Gel being a comic villain when Honey escapes, though the episode plot with her brother Gentle who is a rare alien (with a comic finale) and her own origins actually was plot worthy – Dandy in a few episodes definitely throws you for a loop.
Case in point, episode 7 which is a fun episode but is plot-noticeable for the character of Johnny, who is the Commander-in-Chief of the Jaicro Empires’ armed forces…but also sneaks away from his duties to play guitar and try and become a rock star. After an altercation with Dandy at a bar where fists turn into friendship, they make a band where at a small gig, they become incredibly popular when a punch up at the gig becomes viral and they perform at the Space Budokan – but when they are due to perform Johnny has to also lead an assault. Right at the last minute, he decides to go with the band – which also leads to hostiles between organisations, setting up part of the finale. A musical episode yet actually one of the few true plot worthy ones, so a lot of fun and surprisingly gripping as well.
And then we get episode 8 which is void of comedy when Dandy is stranded on a planet literally called Limbo, he struggles with his memories, referencing the alternate universe Dandies, and is surprisingly deep – it catches you off guard…which is why it is a whiplash when we get the next episode with a John Travolta parody as the alien of the day. Episode 10 however refers back to Scarlett’s situation, here we see her ex-boyfriend has been stalking her, and basically bribes Dandy to pretend to be her boyfriend to try and chase him away. However despite their previous thoughts of each other and a few disastrous dates to start with, they actually do connect with a bond and seem to start falling in love, so when everything is dealt with, they both feel a little empty, and even both go to a diner they were due to meet at during their schedule, but both miss each other. There is a glimpse right at the end that the feelings are still there, but sadly nothing really comes of it especially as it gave some more insight to both Scarlet and Dandy are a bit more different than their thought processes would believe you…
The next two episodes are stand alone until the end of episode 12 – after Dandy is clarified as not guilty in an alien homicide, Dandy and his crew are finally captured by Dr. Gel and his army with Gel ready to cut him open to find out what Dandy’s connection is to reuniting the universe – with the remaining crew, Scarlet, Honey and even Johnny heading to the Gogol Empire to free him. One thing which was disappointing is a relative minor character suddenly out of nowhere was revealed as a spy as a supposed plot twist, but then the character dies quickly meaning it felt like what was the point. The finale however with Dandy having a conversation with the most unexpected source leads to see if he would become a God of the new universe. The last part suggests there may be more to come but it is left ambiguous so you are not sure if there will be a sequel or not, but it could end there…just a lot of things would still be unanswered.
The series as you can tell, is mostly a lot of fun, albeit episodic with no real meaning to the plot. Throughout them there are a few hints at things (particularly with Scarlet, Honey and Johnny’s short plots) which set up the end, but the villains are barely in it and they are pretty much comic relief this season. The sheer fun is in watching Dandy and his crew go from a unique area to another one, appreciate the designs of the characters and aliens, and how fun it is. From Dandy’s rear fetish to Meow desperately getting hungrier as a fish named Carpaccio is right there ready to be toasted, Scarlett getting annoyed when Dandy actually finds rare aliens during their dates, the viral video because Dandy’s band only plays one song and play it for 2 hours straight, etc. One of my favourite characters (especially in the dub) is the Narrator – who has a surprisingly big role by the end of the series when the reveal is…er revealed…but he is so lemony and snarky that he is a joy to listen to.
It is definitely one of the better episodic series I’ve seen in years. It isn’t on the level on Kino’s Journey or Aria for example in shows that have low plot but connect together but it is definitely up there – Dandy himself despite his pervy tendencies is quite the fun character because whilst he is victorious in a lot of the plots, he loses a lot because he never gets the girl or the money – this contrasts to the very serious moments – whether it is Emo Dandy or episode 8 on Planet Limbo which reminds me of that one episode of Excel Saga in a post apocalyptic world where there is no jokes – it really takes you off guard and gets inside Dandy’s psyche. And I do like the Scarlet/Dandy relationship – if there is a sequel I hope that does get explored more – the Johnny/Dandy episode was also a lot of fun with their interaction, and the Honey episode giving her a back-story and insight was also surprising considering she seemed to be the token fan service girl, but in a comedy series, was impressed.
If you are a fan of Cowboy Bebop, but want something a bit more comical and light hearted, then Space Dandy is definitely on that type of range – it is the perfect shut your brain off and enjoy anime, but gives you a few curve balls here and then to showcase that it can do drama (maybe not plot) well.
Space Dandy Season 2 has the established characters, but a lot of it can be watched even for people not seen Season 1. The comedy is great, the animation and designs are a joy to watch, and it even has some half-decent character development at times. Granted the villains aren’t really that important and useful and the final episode as a plot device does seem heavily rushed, but the enjoyment you get throughout most of the episodes makes up for that. Just grab a Dandy drink, put your pompadour on, and sit down and be prepared to smile.
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: C (collector’s edition has an art book and art cards however they weren’t with these test discs so sadly I can’t review them, otherwise the grade would be much higher)
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: 24/08/2015
MSRP: £44.99 (Special edition – I didn’t get the extras with it so couldn’t review them)
Running Time: 325 minutes
Playstation3, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.