BY COLIN HERZOG
Some recognize the name Shinichiro Watanabe—if not, they probably have not heard of his renowned series, “Cowboy Bebop,” which is widely considered one of the greatest animated series of all time. But whereas that series followed a bounty hunting team through space and the various thought provoking adventures, “Space Dandy” is the parody of that. If you liked “Futurama,” then this show is very much in the same vein; all logic is thrown to the wind in favor of the potential for anything to happen—which works both in the show’s favor and to its disadvantage. Still, through likeable characters, generally funny humor, and fantastic music and animation, “Space Dandy” is definitely a solid series.
First, the premise: Watanabe’s comedy series follows responsible pompadour-owner Space Dandy (voiced by Ian Sinclair), his vacuum cleaner robot that he thought would be more like R2D2 (QT) and a lazy cat alien deemed Meow (Joel McDonald) as they attempt to capture rare aliens and get them registered for money. Sure, there’s a bigger conflict between the warring Jaicro and Gogol Empires for the fate of the universe, but the series itself states that it’s an afterthought. The only reoccurring mention of it is the ape-like Dr. Gel (J. Michael Tatum) and his assistant Bea (Micah Solusod) as they attempt to hunt Dandy and his friends for reasons unknown.
Instead, the show focuses on anything from the aftermath of what would happen after everyone got zombified (life doesn’t change all that much) to space races to wars being caused by overdue library books (that was one abstract episode, let me tell you); even if the characters die at the end of the episode, they are back the next week like nothing happened—and in that sense, the sheer creativity and variety of the stories is fun and interesting, but at the same time, there is definitely the question of why an episode matters, as it feels like none of the character development carries over; but it’s still fun enough that, most of the time, it doesn’t matter.
The voice actors bring their A-game and, given that this is one of the very, very anime productions to premiere in America simultaneously with Japan, it is an interesting dynamic. The English actors fit their characters perfectly; from Dr. Gel’s deep voice to Dandy’s lazy but suave delivery, the voice actors put their all into every joke and line. Granted, sometimes the jokes aren’t funny and the running joke of Dandy being obsessed with a fast food chain called Boobies (a less subtle Hooters equivalent) gets old EXTREMELY quickly; but, overall, the humor holds up and when it does get serious the characters sell the subtle drama well. Likewise, the jazzy score greatly fits the tone the show’s aiming for and makes for a great opening and ending sequence.
Speaking of, the animation done by Japanese studio Bones and the international freelancers is out of this world; space has never been this gorgeous. From comets, the sheer variety of planets out there and even things like wormholes, everything is just beautiful, sometimes even awe-inspiring. The craziness to the alien designs is also a highlight, as no two look alike and, in a rare case, we get a feel for just how big space is and the sheer variety of possible life out there, and it makes for one astounding visual presentation.
Overall, “Space Dandy” is accessible, often funny and at least worth a look for science fiction and comedy fans; check out the first season on iTunes and look for season two this July on Adult Swim.