「一人ぼっちのワンコ星じゃんよ」 (Hitoribotchi no Wankoboshi jan yo)
“The Lonely Pooch Planet, Baby”
For a show where things repeat themselves so often, Space Dandy is proving stubbornly unpredictable.
Well, Cowboy Bebop fans should certainly get off Watanabe-sensei’s case now. Not only has he given them an episode that had a complete Bebop feel (#5) but now he’s referenced the show directly by including the refrigerator from the “Toys in the Attic” episode – complete with a blue mold monster inside (which Meow promptly eats – surprisingly with no consequences). It’s fitting given that Bebop’s head writer Nobumoto Keiko wrote this episode of Space Dandy – the other big-name guest is Animation Director Shimizu Hiroshi, a Gainax veteran who’s also worked on shows like Monster and Lupin III: Fujiko Mine.
This episode was quite unlike any previous Dandy effort in that it was really two episodes in one, though they were connected via a pair of “Machinians”, the Le Flea Brothers – a kind of space flea played by the always superb Koyama Rikiya. This is a clever linking device, though some may find the tonal shift between the two halves of the episode a little jarring. Both worked pretty well for me, while not reaching the heights the series has during its best moments.
The first chapter finds the Aloha Oe landing on a planet that appears to be a garbage dump for old space parts, led there by a supposed map of unregistered aliens Meow has procured. QT is in seventh heaven among space junk even older than he is, but it seems less than promising for actual aliens and thus Dandy is in a sour mood. That is, until a dog shows up out of nowhere and Dandy reveals himself to be both weak for and knowledgeable of dogs. What follows is certainly the most earnest chapter of the series so far, along with the Adelie episode mentioned above.
I should have known as soon as QT identified the pooch as a “Laika Husky” where this was headed, but I didn’t catch on until the narrator clued me in at the end of the chapter. There’s some good comedy here – like when Dandy’s translator initially translates the dog’s barks as “Wan, wan!” – bot mostly this is played straight. The pooch (named P.U.P. by Dandy) has been desperately lonely, and Meow is quite hurt by the fact that Dandy treats her so much more kindly than he treats him. Eventually the translator starts working and P.U.P. unspools her life story in the voice of Han Keiko. It’s strongly implied – though not explicitly stated – that P.U.P. is Laika, the dog the Soviets sent into space on-board Sputnik, which supposedly died when the ship burned up on re-entry. Having had her moment to run and play again, P.U.P. promptly expires (seemingly of natural causes) and Dandy constructs a coffin and QT a rocket so her remains can be sent to the “Great Beyond”.
We’ve seen Dandy get serious, obviously, but this is certainly the most emotionally significant interaction between the three crew members (especially given that Meow and QT were largely absent from Episode 5). Things turn on a dime, though, with the arrival of the Le Flea Brothers. Having lost their last host in P.U.P., they hitch a ride on the Aloha Oe looking for a new place to settle – starting out on a rather stinky Meow (no bath for three weeks). Eventually they end up in Dandy’s hair, where the elder brother is sent to the Great Beyond himself by hair gel and a comb, and the younger takes over QT in a attempt at revenge. The really strange twist here is that the Le Flea turn out to be “machine manipulators” who’ve been holding the planet together, and when the other one gets stepped on, it collapses into itself and forms a black hole.
For a change, the heroes escape unscathed this time via an unusually straightforward warp, though Dr. Gel and Bea aren’t so lucky. They’re fast establishing themselves as Space Dandy’s Team Rocket, and their appearances are getting weirder and weirder (which is saying something for characters who travel through space in a bondage Statue of Liberty head). This time around Bea builds a hip-hop tracking system out of used parts (or perhaps just buys it second-hand) which launches missiles when turntablism is applied, and Dr. Gel talks back to the Admiral in slang. I’m still not sure what role these two play in the larger plot suggested by the ED (we haven’t even been told why they’re chasing Dandy) but I suspect when that part of the story is revealed, these two and the Gogol Empire are going to be deeply involved.
That fridge was my favourite part of the episode, the show, hell, the season so far.
The fridge is obviously the most talked-about part of the episode.
I thought Episode 5 was supposed to be the one serious episode dammit! ;____; The feelz!
In the dub, the two Le Flea Brothers had the voices of Native American tribe leaders. I found that quite fitting.
Space Dandy VIII: Return of the Feels ;__;
So this is like, what, the third planet they’ve destroyed or something?
If we’re assuming they hop through different parallel universes, this would be the first.
Amazing how a dog who I have no attachments with makes me tear up.
It reminds me of that one episode of Futurama where Fry’s dog is shown to have waited his entire life for his owner to come back, Hachiko style.
Or Letter Bee.
actually laika’s story is very sad … T.T
I like how you decided to fully screenshot Dandy’s ass.
Wherever there are female boobies, there must be male butts – yin/yang, darkness/light, Coke/Pepsi, et al.
That’s my thank-you card to the Dandy haters…
It is delightfully unpredictable. It’s been so long since I watched Bebop, I completely missed the significance of the fridge until you pointed it out!
Still not a huge fan of how the show has no female characters in the main cast though.
Not every show needs a female MC, frankly it gets a little tiring having shows try to wedge a female into a character spot when a male would work better. Dandy is doing just fine without one imo, it makes his dilettante womanizing come across stronger.
There are “character spots” where a male would work better than a female? No, that isn’t the case. A good writer can make any type of character work in any role, regardless of gender, race, etc. If Dandy were a woman who frequented chippendale club, it wold be just as funny, but also an example of ballsy writing and a non-traditional female role.
Not saying that Dandy isn’t great as is, but I just hate the idea that we rarely see women in roles like this in fiction.
Moroso, are you implying that something like Eva or FLCL would be better with a female MC? Just no. Some stories work with females and some with males.
There are tons of shows for that. Heck, I don’t think we have an anime that has a totally all-male cast as of late (even Free! had a significant supporting female cast) that isn’t yaoi
Also I loved the reference to Cowboy Bebop’s episode “Toys in the Attic”.
“Quick, play me some sick beats”
Unfortunately, sick beats do not save you from the gravitational pull of a black hole
Beats, by Dr. Gel
Enjoyed first half, but I think the writers
were drinking too much for the second half.
Poor Laika.. fucking sovietics
This Episode is kinda bit nostalgic um let see…
Laika…hmmm That’s actually the first dog in space right (as a Soviet Cosmonaut)