A collection of tales about a Dandy Guy in Space
When it was announced that Watanabe Shinichiro was going to release another original sci-fi anime, I think most people were expecting the next Cowboy Bebop. But they got Space Dandy, for better or for worse. That’s the dangerous thing, I suppose, when big name creators are attached to a new series – the expectations and hype skyrocket, and when it turns out to be something unexpected, people dismiss it or claim it garbage. But after watching all twenty six episodes of Space Dandy (and if you, like I, prefer to consider it as one ongoing series despite it being split-cour), I must say I would not change a thing.
This final episode hit every note, providing us with a shocking twist in the revelation of little Bea, and tied everything together oh so wonderfully. We saw old faces and new alike, and the multi-verse Dandy theory was proven correct. And to top that off, our wonderful Dandy got the offer to be the God of a new collection of newborn universes. But of course, he turned it down. Oh, and also there was a 14.8 billion year timeskip – not something you see that often, is it? Overall, this finale was a celebration of what makes Space Dandy… well… Space Dandy. It was loud, it was over the top, magical, beautifully animated, and to top that all off it made sense – something that I think is genuinely impressive considering the bizarre nature of the series.
When looking at the series as a whole – due to its episodic nature of wild adventures – I almost like to think of Space Dandy as twenty six anime in one. Each episode was different from the next, with a number of famed directors, writers, and animators being brought in to work their magic. And because of the collaboration of alien ideas, artistic styles, and outrageous humour, it delivered. It may not have been the serious sci-fi story with the grandiose plot that (some) people were expecting going in, but it undoubtably proved itself in the end as a series bursting with creativity and imagination, whilst being spiced with arctic flair by the hands of veterans who were given free roam to shape Space Dandy twenty six times over.
When you sit back and think about what we have witnessed in each and every episode, it can only boggle your mind. Whether it be travelling to an alternate dimension with a lone Space Ramen store, having everyone and everything turn into zombies, or heading off to wonderful planets with changing artistic styles. It was all a roller coaster, truly. We got a fabulous space race to remember forever, an over the top musical episode, a Rock n’ Roll concert to shake the galaxies, a tense courtroom scene lasting an entire episode, and pretty much anything else you could imagine, really.
But whilst my praise for Space Dandy is high and mighty, I still have some minor gripes with the series. One of them being that, for me, the first four episodes were very much sub-par in comparison to the rest of the series, where it only grew from then on. Maybe that ties to original expectations coming into question, but I still feel this was a series that got better with time and patience. Another issue would be the simple fact that the quality of episodes didn’t exactly remain consistent. Most were good, some were great, and a few were incredible. As a result, it did show that as a whole the series was certainly not cohesive, and it had its moments where the quality (be that comedy, visuals, or episode plots) was not always at the same level. But then, I suppose that is to be expected of a series that effectively presses the restart button every week to allow for a new idea to take the forefront.
If I were to pick my highlights of the series as a whole (from both cours) it would be episode 5 from each. Funnily enough, both had very little comedy, and both focused on Dandy and a little girl. It was in these episodes that I knew that this series wasn’t just smoke and mirrors, but had the potential to deliver a simple, emotional, and altogether effective story. I’ll remember them as two of my favourite anime episodes of all-time, for sure. Another episode that I loved was: “The Transfer Student is Dandy, Baby” because it was essentially an even more hilarious version of High School Musical. I can still remember laughing until I could laugh no more. I really did have tears in my eyes with that one. I’m sure there is certainly an episode that stands out to you, or maybe a few, whether it be a pure-comedy episode, or one where the weird and wonderful elements of imagination were delved into, or possibly one of the more simple episodes with an emotional story to tell.
There is something for everyone in Space Dandy. And ending the series with ‘May Be Continued’ is only a good thing, no matter how you look at it. There is so much more this series can continue to explore, and I would absolutely be on board to journeying with our Dandy Guy in Space all over again.