Second Opinion: Space Dandy Season 1

Because we polled test audiences and apparently they felt the previous review lacked sufficient boobies.

Okay, so that was a bit crude, but really Funimation made it a point to design two collector’s sets for this wonderful insanity and it’d be a shame to not give them both their fair due.

So grab your ray guns and puff up those pompadours, cause it’s back to the alien hunt.

space-dandy-poster
(A review copy was provided by Funimation Entertainment)

Space Dandy was a show that come out to a fair deal of hype over here. Though it wasn’t the first anime to receive a simulcast release in the US, its slot on Toonami certainly made it the biggest in that respect. Second, it was the latest by director Shinichiro Watanabe, who had delivered such previous hits here as Macross Plus, Samurai Champloo, and, of course, Cowboy Bebop.

Despite being another serious about lovable losers in space, Dandy is most definitely not another Cowboy Bebop. Which is a compliment, really – I love me some Bebop, but I’m also pleased to see Watanabe doing something different on this one.

Space Dandy is probably Watanabe’s most out there series to date. The show concerns the titular Dandy, an alien hunter with a rocking head of hair and a love for the futuristic equivalent of Hooters as he searches the galaxy with his robotic companion and an almost feline alien trying to find new aliens to wrangle up enough money for another trip to Boobies.

This is probably the best advice one could take going into this series, really.

This is probably the best advice one could take going into this series, really.

Suffice it to say, the show does not take itself seriously at all. The whole thing moves with a weirdly free-wheeling ease and sense of humor that can make it hit or miss at times, especially depending what you expect from it.

To that end, the show takes its episodic nature to the utmost extremes as far as overarching continuity goes. In fact, a number of episodes in the first season either end with Dandy and crew dead or unable to continue the narrative as they know it. Which does give everything a sort of fun element of creative freedom. While this means not every episode will land (the show does take a few episodes to really get going), it also leads to a couple of particularly strong episodes that otherwise wouldn’t fly in a tighter continuity (a space race and zombie outbreak both come to mind).

About the one other ‘make or break’ that could throw people about this series, which is a little ironic to bring up with this particular collector’s set – the fanservice. Given the nature of Dandy’s character, the show isn’t shy about indulging in fanservice – in fact, the first episode begins with Dandy rhapsodizing on the merits of the booty. It’s not at the same level as, say, the big breasts bordering on body horror of something like Eiken, but it’s also much more pronounced than previous Watanabe works.

Beyond the show itself, this series continues another great Watanabe tradition – it has a top-notch dub. With both casts being put together around the same time, both languages match up surprisingly well. But I will admit I have a bit more of a soft spot for the dub on this one, if only for how much it dials everything up – the acting and the script both feel more suited to the show (the oft-quoted “he combs the galaxy like his pompadour,” for example, is a dub only addition). In particular the three leads, most especially Ian Sinclair as Dandy, make the roles so distinctly their own that I had to adjust to the Japanese cast during the first few episodes because I had so taken the English voices as a part of the package.

...and since we're coming into features/extras, let me just say: Marathon Watch Mode - The best and worst thing that can happen to a viewer sometimes.

…and since we’re coming into features/extras, let me just say:
Marathon Watch Mode – The best and worst thing that can happen to a viewer sometimes. (Though why one would want to skip that opening, I have NO idea!)

In terms of extras…well, let’s start with the all-around stuff you’ll get from either version before I go into this one’s swag box. The disc-only extras on this one are a decent spread of both in-house and imported bonuses. You get two episode commentaries with the Funimation team to start with – which relay some interesting and fun stories about the challenge of things like casting for a dub when you have no footage to go from. Besides those, we have extras like some Japanese promotional material for the series as well as a featurette called A Dandy Guy in Space, Pt 1.

This last one is a bit of an admittedly small point of contention for me – this is an extra that appears to be only on the Blu-Ray, sort of like the chibi shorts from Attack on Titan. Now, the fact that you get both versions doesn’t make this as much of an issue, but it is the sort of thing that can get awkward if someone is getting this set for the DVD version first. It’s mainly small because it’s a pretty easy thing to fix – just mark the BD only extras as such on the case, but it’s still annoying all the same.

Now we get to the promised boobies. As I joked, Funimation put together two collectors’ boxes for this show. Last time we looked at the Aloha Oe set, this one is in turn based on Dandy’s hangout of choice. Besides a stylistic, if somewhat awkward to leave out box, this version also includes some appropriate swag for the show’s ‘breastaurant’ – a pin-up calendar featuring the waitress Honey, a pennant, some stickers, a frequent customers card, and the ultimate ‘I dare you to wear this in public’ piece, a Boobies trucker’s hat.

Hey, you guys were promised boobies, it's not my fault you didn't read the fine print. Also, I'm torn between wanting to display all this swag front and center or keeping it tastefully tucked away like a sane human being to break out during a Dandy binge.

Hey, you guys were promised boobies, it’s not my fault you didn’t read the fine print.
Also, I’m torn between wanting to display all this swag front and center or keeping it tastefully tucked away like a sane human being to break out during a Dandy binge.

All in all, not a bad release. The non-disc extras are funny, but not exactly must-owns, and otherwise they’ve done well by this series as one of the breakouts of last year.

Looking forward to completing the set with season 2, baby!

Stay Dandy, my friends!

Stay Dandy, my friends!

Pros:

-Great animation and a top-notch English dub

-On disc extras are basic, but enjoyable; especially the commentaries

-Good mix of different styles per episode leading to a couple of really great sets for comedy

Cons:

-The ‘fast and loose’ style of the show, as well as its casual attitude towards fanservice, could be a turn-off for some

-First few eps can be hit or miss – at least stick with it till the zombie episode. I promise, it’s worth it!

-The non-disc extras are amusing, but unless you’re a hardcore Dandy fan, you may just want to stick with the standard release

Rating: 4/5

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Check out Elessar’s review of this season!

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This is what happens when a man takes a degree in English and the excessive analytic skills therein and chooses to use them for... ...is this evil? I'm not sure. But there are monsters and potentially robots, so there's potential for evil. ...we'll get back to you on that.

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