Space Dandy is an anime series from the legendary director, Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo). A sci-fi comedy, Space Dandy focuses on alien bounty hunter Dandy as he explores the galaxy collecting bounties. Dandy is dumb, selfish (he’s willing to sacrifice his crew), and obsessed with females. His crew consists of QT, a robot vacuum cleaner and Meow, an alien from Planet Betelgeuse. The main conflict in Space Dandy is an intergalactic war between the Jaicro Empire and the Gogol Empire. The militaristic empire is led by Admiral Perry who sent Dr. Gel to capture Dandy. According to Admiral Perry, Dandy is the key to the “future of the universe.”
Space Dandy features a plethora of dynamic and interesting characters. Dandy is modeled after Japanese delinquents or bosozoku gang members, sporting a Regent pompadour and a slouching posture. While Dandy can be selfish he has shown some willingness to help others. In episode 5, As Merry Companion is a Wagon in Space, Baby, Dandy helps Adelie, an orphan Gentooan girl reunite with her grandfather. In the eighth episode, Dandy becomes attached to a dog he names Pup. He uses a translator to communicate with her and when she dies, Dandy builds her a rocket coffin for her.
Meow’s real name is “Mymyamo,” but QT and Dandy can’t pronounce it and besides he looks like a cat, so they rename him Meow. He’s a sloth, spending much of his time playing video games and reading manga. Regardless, he has a deluded perspective of himself, believing that he’s a helpful member of the crew. He loves food, has poor hygiene (he hates water so he barely bathes), and is a pervert. Meow is also addicted to social media.
QT is an “obsolete”, robot, but claims he’s a “high-powered machine.” Unlike, Meow and Dandy, QT is responsible and competent. Dandy likes to tease QT due to him being outdated, but it’s clear that they have a deep friendship. He gets along with Meow, but he thinks Meow is a “lazy moron,” like Dandy.
The world is populated with a variety of diverse alien species. Some of which resemble real animals like Meow (cats) and Dr. Gel (Gorillas), others that appear human. The main villains, Admiral Perry and Dr. Gel, are both very serious, no nonsense individuals. Perry has no sense of humor and according to Dr. Gel is very cheap. Dr. Gel is a brilliant scientists and can ignore his more important duties.
Watching the first season of Space Dandy, several themes are repeated. One theme is the cost of poverty. Dandy, Meow, and QT are living paycheck to paycheck. Their ship, the Aloha Oe is constantly breaking down, with its warp core being broken, and it’s teleporter being extremely slow. In episode 4, Dandy, QT, and Meow are turned into zombies. They live off Dandy’s life insurance policy. The life insurance company tries to control the zombie population buy hiring zombie hunters. In the next episode, the Aloha Oe gets towed away for a parking violation. Dandy is desperately needs to make money to pay the fine, he considers turning Adelie in for the bounty.
Another theme was the destructive results of war and the frivolous distinctions people use to justify them. In episode 6, ” The War of the Undies and Vest, Baby,” Meow and Dandy each end up on the side of the last remaining members of the Undie and Vestian alien species war. The aliens reveal that “their races have been at war for ten thousand years because the Undies do not tolerate vests while the Vestians abhor underwear.” As a result, they are the last survivors. Dandy and Meow try to convince them to sign a treaty, but to do so requires the aliens to give up their most prized possessions, their clothing. Incapable of this act, the two aliens kill each other, destroying the moon with a weapon of mass destruction.
In episode 9, the theme I would describe as the consequence of sentience, is presented. A meteorite called Code D evolves the life found in Planet Planta. The plant life becomes sentient, with the more intelligent Vegims occupying the north and the less intelligent Movies occupying the south. It’s the Vegims that enslave microbes to do their manual labor.
Animation and Style
Watanabe is known for using genre and music in his anime. Cowboy Bebop blends cowboy western with film noir elements, with a jazz inspired score and Samurai Champloo is an historical anime with modern hip hop music. Space Dandy is a space opera whos music is primarily New Wave. The space opera genre is a subgenre of science fiction. Themes like space warfare, space adventures, and chivalric romance are common. They usually take place in fictional galaxies, and are populated by fictional aliens. Space Dandy adopts most if not all these themes and aspects of the space opera genre.
The end of episode one really is a good display of this series animation. Here, Dandy and Meow encounter a number of large vivacious aliens. The animation kicks into high gear, as Meow and Dandy, run from impending doom. As the aliens fight and eat each other, our main protagonist are ignited by fire, then extinguishes themselves inside the liquid body of an alien, then they’re electrocuted by another species. The scene is chaotic and beautifully rendered. It’s a perfect representation of the creativity, as well as the series use of color and movement. Space Dandy is a series with spectacular animation.
Space Dandy is an entertaining series, that makes good use of the elements of space opera. Watanabe continues to excel at combining genre with musical era’s. With dynamic characters, important themes, and amazing animation, Space Dandy is an anime series with plenty to offer audiences. The B plot (intergalactic war) can get lost in all the ridiculous adventures Dandy and his crew get into, but hopefully Season 2 will remedy that.
Source: Space Dandy Fandom.