Space Dandy’s opening tune covers everything you need to know about the series: “Space Dandy. He’s a dandy guy in space.” It says that all fans should know what the show is about, what kind of characters are there, what the tone is and more.
Space Dandy was released between January and September 2014. It first caught the attention of the American public with an ad stating that it was from the creators of Soul Eater, Full Metal Alchemist, and Cowboy Bebop. Intrigued anime fans who tuned in Toonami Saturday nights were treated to psychedelic space adventures and exactly the kind of material the commercials promised. It was directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, the legendary director behind Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo in the past. The series was also animated by bones, which, as advertised, animated soul eater and Fullmetal Alchemist; for a better idea of Space Dandies more avant-garde moments of animation, they also started to animate Mob Psycho 100. The style of storytelling and animation that these two creative bodies are known for can be felt everywhere Space Dandy.
The show follows the adventures of the Space Dandy of the same name. He is accompanied by the robot QT and the feline alien Meow. The three of them travel across the galaxy aboard the Aloha Oe in search of undiscovered alien life; if they find one, they can register it and make a large sum of money. At the same time, unbeknownst to them, Dandy is being chased by Dr. Gel of the Gogol Empire, who believes he is the source of some great power.
Like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy is episodic. It’s essentially a series of short stories that don’t really have anything to do with each other. Either way, each of them is packed with emotion and meaning that it almost seems like they could function as their own feature films. While there are echoes of an overarching story, most episodes can be watched and enjoyed completely independently.
Part of what particularly helps this series to be so episodic is the lack of continuity. There’s an in-universe explanation for this, but for the most part, nothing about one episode needs to be logically connected to the other. In fact, Dandy and co. might die in one episode, and it wouldn’t prevent them from going on more ridiculous space adventures in the next.
This plays into another important aspect of space dandy, his absurd humour. The series uses its sci-fi setting to put its over-the-top characters in alien scenarios. Adding the extravagance of quality animation to this creates a uniquely entertaining experience.
Not all about it of course Space Dandy focuses on the comic. The show can cover a wide range of emotions if it really wants to; it can be heartwarming, tragic, joyful, or even thought-provoking, depending on which story is being told. It’s just that the comedic tone is central to the series.
It’s also worth noting that this is one of the rare anime where fans would rather listen to the English dub than the Japanese original. This is partly due to the fact that many season 1 episodes actually premiered on America’s Toonami block before their Japanese release. In addition, Funimation used some pretty talented voice actors for this project; Colleen Clinkenbeard, J. Michael Tatum and Joel McDonald are just a few examples. In addition, Ian Sinclair is so perfect as Dandy that he convincingly reprized the role in a live-action commercial for the Season 1 DVDs and Blu-rays. These actors really brought their characters to life with enjoyable and memorable performances.
For all Space Dandy did for his audience, it’s not much talked about these days. This may have to do with the series being nearly a decade old now. Anime fans who haven’t seen it yet should make room for that in their schedule; those who have seen it should spread it. Space Dandy maybe old, but it’s still a creative masterpiece.