Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Space Dandy Season 1

Starting on January 4th, 2014, Space Dandy is a 24-episode anime series by Studio Bones following the misadventures of an alien hunter named Dandy and his two hapless cohorts Meow and QT. To bump this series up, it's directed by Watanabe Shinichiro, the genius behind Cowboy Bebop. But what really puts this series on the map is that, for the first time ever, the English Dub aired in simulcast (on TV, to boot) alongside the Japanese airing. The English rendition even premiered a day earlier than the Japanese, giving this show yet another notch on its belt.

The show used A LOT of special effects and art styles to render a very psychedelic space story.

Dandy (or Space Dandy, as he likes to be called) is a suave, pompadour-styling guy who spends his days hunting for rare aliens. While this seems all well and good, what it usually translates into is waking up at noon, going to Boobies (a spiritual successor of sorts to Hooters), and surviving mostly on chips, beer, and girly magazines. Sure, this sounds like a godawful way to live, but Dandy makes it work, and actually manages to have a spectacular time in his day-to-day life.

Yeeeahh.....you'd definitely back away slowly.


If you were to encounter a man like this in real life, you'd probably write him off as a slacker creep and edge away as fast as possible. However, because it's set in space, with limitless possibilities, Dandy ends up as actually a rather engaging (though chauvinistic) guy. It's a very episodic series, which suits the show well since it allows everything to start fresh each week. Combine that with all the not-so-subtle nods to various past works and Bones' penchant for crazy, and the result is a stellar mix of colourful and funky with action and adventure.

ACTION BUREAUCRAT!! 

Continuing that thought, the art style in this show was just out of this world (pun so very intended). It's part 70's, part future, all Dandy. Every character is beyond unique, and are very charming in their own demented ways. The animation is fluid as hell and the special effects are spot-on. Bones' stylistic choices and risks just make the series that much more adventurous and appealing; it's not every day you see an entire episode look like a series of charcoal sketches.

Bones took such time with their visuals, that even the characters themselves are left in awe.

As if things couldn't get any better, Kanno Yoko was one of the composers of the soundtrack, and my god it is amazing. They took such careful time with each of the songs, as if they were to write a story in itself with them. As is typical with anime, however, they changed the opening and ending to more "American" ones for the dub release, when they really didn't have to; both are just wonderful. However, to their credit, the English openings are still quite nice, so at least they tried.

The American opening and ending were good, but the Japanese are better.

Overall, Space Dandy was a quirky, fun, occasional cringe-fest of a thrill ride. I laughed, I cried at an episode or two, and I felt all the joy and heartache they wanted me to. Sure, it's dumb. Sure, it's got more fanservice than a real-life hooters. Sure, there are moments which make no sense whatsoever and still leave me wondering, somewhat. But it was perfect that way. Had they tried to make it anything other than what it was, it sure as hell wouldn't have been Dandy.

The original version implemented a lot of fun, quirky commercial cards that I can only hope the english left in. (Having not seen it on TV, I don't know.)

Adult Swim is currently airing the second season as part of their Saturday night Toonami block, but I have yet to check if any season 1 episodes are on demand. Otherwise, various streaming sites have it and it's easy enough to find torrents of both sub and dub. I personally was using the Phr0stY blu-ray quality rips, but I know Denpa was doing torrents as well (and with the original opening mashed in there, to boot!). Horrible Subs, Commie, Noob Subs and Deadfish all appear to have active torrents of both s1 and s2 episodes, too.

Despite all his fumbling, Dandy actually is a pretty cool guy.

4.5-5/5

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