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[DVD] Anime Review: Space Dandy S1 (2014)

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Space Dandy. Dandy is a dandy guy in space. Dandy is an alien hunter in search of the rarest aliens spacedandydvdin space. With his slick jet-black hair, Aloha Oe spaceship , and badass attitude … nothing can stop Dandy.

Travelling with his robot assistant ‘QT’ and a cat-like alien called ‘Meow’, Dandy spends little time fighting aliens and most of his time at ‘Boobies’ (aka the space equivalence of casinos). Life doesn’t get better than this, especially for a dandy like Space Dandy.

Directed by Studio Bones’ Shingo Natsume and Shinichiro Watanabe (COWBOY BEBOP), SPACE DANDY is possibly one of the best experimental anime series in recent years.

A strong resemblance to Watanabe’s Cowboy Bebop (1998), Space Dandy wastes no time inviting the audience into its futuristic universe. Unlike the edgy neo-noir world in Cowboy Bebop, Space Dandy simulates a Western-inspired world of a different kind. This sci-fi universe is not a world that we are usually accustomed to — it is lively, flamboyant, and contains a ‘cartoonish’ aura that is not of the Japanese anime norm.

Throughout the series, Space Dandy boasts a variation of illustration and animation styles that will be the envy of other production studios. From stylistic minimal art to high-quality CGI to loosely hand-drawn style, Studio Bones’ experimental approach with its animation and art direction is what defines Space Dandy’s creative brilliance.

Before we realise it, we are succumbed to this overpowering Western-inspired presence as we constantly have to remind ourselves that Space Dandy is actually a Japanese animated show, and not an American animation. And because of this, this ultimately demonstrates Studio Bones’ ambitious desire to create something that defies common standards of Japanese anime.

Perhaps it is Watanabe’s love for American culture that makes his collection of works so distinct from others. From vintage convertibles to video cassettes to the iconic Statue of Liberty, Space Dandy overwhelmingly plays tribute to the retro ’80s by referencing American cultural symbols every now and then. However, that doesn’t stop Space Dandy from making occasional references to Japan’s culture as we see plenty of Japanese elements such as the iconic Japanese sunset, Mt Fuji, ramen, bishonen characters and many more.

Accompanied by the show’s enthusiastic display of flashy colours and shapes, this snazzy universe mirrors Dandy’s way of life — it is carefree, obscure, and just one awesome adventure after another. Adding a bit of life to the mix is the narrator behind the series. With his sarcastic humour, the unknown narrator’s commentary adds quirkiness to Space Dandy as he frequently banters Dandy and the show’s storytelling formula.

To be blunt, Space Dandy’s storytelling does not contain a plot that goes from Point A to B. Being one of the top anime series in 2014, Space Dandy is an anime series that will have many viewers divided —  you will either love the show or hate the show. 

In this epic collection of frivolous space adventures, most episodes take place in alternative worlds where Dandy and his crew embark on kooky adventures. Whether it is spaceship-racing; transforming into zombies; getting trapped in a Groundhog Day loop; and dying from fighting aliens…. it is crazy adventures like Dandy’s adventures that makes us yearn to live in space amongst the colour, aliens and badass hunters like Dandy.

Although Space Dandy’s spontaneous nature is not our cup of tea (and probably not yours as well), we promise you that there will always be a heartfelt episode waiting just around the corner.

Surprisingly, what triggers the emotions behind these heart-warming episodes is the man himself. On the surface, Dandy (Junichi Suwabe) may seem self-centered and completely dim-witted. But deep down, Dandy can be sensitive at times, and there will be occasions where we witness Dandy wearing his heart on his sleeve that will move the audience.

Overall: Space Dandy is undeniably this generation’s Cowboy Bebop series — but with a touch of awesomeness, light-hearted comedy and dazzling colours. Space Dandy’s shebang may not be everyone’s cup of tea but these wild adventures will grow on you, and before you know it, you will want more. So sit back and hold on tight, baby — because every Space Dandy adventure is an awesome adventure that you don’t want to miss.

Rating: 8.5/10

Space Dandy Season 1 (Episodes 1- 13) is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here].

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