Sunday, July 9, 2017

Anime Corner: Space Dandy (2014)

Shinichiro Watanabe is sort of legendary among anime fans, and while he wasn't as central to the production of this show as he was with Cowboy Bebop or Samurai Champloo, you can still definitely tell his influence on it -- and believe me when I say that's a good thing. While it may not be as classic as those two, I will say I enjoyed this more in a frivolous sort of way than I did with them. It's an absolute blast.

Dandy, while not being the most well-developed of characters, is somewhat unique in the realm of anime leads, a goofy Johnny Bravo-esque bounty hunter who spends every available minute at his favorite restaurant, "BooBies". The other two main characters are a somewhat snarky childlike robot and a talking alien ferret. It's definitely what one might call a motley crew, and seeing these lovable misfits struggle to find rare aliens and save up money to go to BooBies makes up a large part of the downtime in the show. Much like other Watanabe shows, there is a heavy focus on finding and eating food.

One of the things I love most about this show is how shamelessly it avoids any kind of narrative focus from episode to episode. In one episode, they'll all be turned into zombies; in another they'll all explode and die. It makes every episode into an unpredictable experience that's more often than not quite humorous. But weirdly, they manage to make this all come around and make sense (in its own kind of way) by the end, which doesn't disappoint at all. For all of its overwhelming nonsense, there is a remarkable amount of logic to this show.

As a huge fan of science fiction, I can always appreciate a show that's so filled with ideas. There's a mystical quality to the rule so this show's universe(s), and while the sense of humor is over-the-top wacky, some of the concepts are equally as wild and thought-provoking. Imagine a Star Trek level of immersion into galactic exploration and moral themes blended with the absurdity of a Zucker comedy. It may seem a tad ridiculous, and that's exactly what it is, but if you can't sit back and just enjoy it, you're really missing out on something special -- it's that special kind of stupid that has a brain.

The animation and music are also definitely worth mentioning, as the sight and sound in this show is pretty incredible. The visuals are sometimes almost shockingly beautiful, with swirling colors and vibrant backdrops. The music, when it isn't emulating '70s funk and soul, features some lovely ballads that wouldn't be out of place in the most high-brow of sci-fi and dramas. As a whole, this show is a blend of moving parts all working together to create something that I wouldn't describe as anything less than massively entertaining. One of my absolute favorite animes of the 2010s.

Episode count: 26

My grade: A-

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