A dandy guy in space.
The space opera is still very much alive, in all shapes and sizes. Space Dandy proves this by bringing a fresh new take on the genre. Always a fan of quality animation with an end-focus on comedy, I couldn’t resist picking the series up when I first heard of it. And boy did it deliver! Let me back up a bit and explain why.
Right off the bat, we have a very unique setting. A distant future where space travel and alien life is part of the norm, yet everything about the universe has an aesthetic that scream 80’s. Modern technologies invented past that point in real-world time don’t make a single appearance. Hell, characters still play their music off cassettes!
Complementing this is the bright and bold animation, colors that jump at you (but never scream) and smoothly detailed special effects that are just the right amount of over-the-top. The animation is captivating throughout the series, and every different alien planet feels unique. (Fun fact: they hired different artist for every single planet a story is set on just to ensure it felt distinct from the rest!)
The cast is in hilariously strong contrast with their cool presentation during the introduction scene, yet still individually charming enough to make for strong scenes when they’re on their own. The story itself isn’t particularly special… or important. The series is episodic, nearly every episode presenting a stand-alone story that can be enjoyed without having viewed previous ones. It makes for a very “pick up and watch” style series, which serves its content well. That’s because…
Space Dandy isn’t afraid of jokes. When it isn’t pointing out the absurdities of the future world, it’s poking fun at tropes both within and outside of its own genre. And it isn’t afraid to take things all the way. By which I really do mean all the way. One episode features the outbreak of a zombie virus. Halfway through the episode, the entire universe has already been zombified. And then we just continue running with that. We get a close hard look at the hilarities that shape day-to-day zombie life and how it affects the universe’s population. It explores every nook and cranny of the real-deal consequences of the joke it made. And it’s hilarious.
The space comedy has a lot of parallels with (and references to) the all-time classic Cowboy Bebop. Not surprising, considering both were crafted under the hands of the same man. I’d say this series can be best described as “Cowboy Bebop, with more humor”. It trades in a small amount of seriousness and plot for a much larger chunk of absurdity and fun-poking. And yet it still always has you on your seat, questioning, is this for real or will it end in another crazy gag?
All in all, a fresh new take on a genre loved by many. Whether you’re into slick animation, deep and absurd comedy, or just want to experience yet another artist’s rendition of an oddly nostalgic future, Space Dandy’s got you covered. Give it a whirl if you got the time, you won’t regret it!
Disclaimer: I haven’t seen the series in its entirety yet, but plenty enough to paint a good picture.