Space Dandy – 09

Space Dandy - 09 - Large 10 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 23 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 33

That was an amazing trip, in many senses of the word.

It would seem that Space Dandy has ventured so far and wide across the stylistic map that it should have offered something for just about anybody by now – and if your tastes happen to be of an eclectic nature, then so much the better.  My suspicion is that just as Episode 5 was the most mainstream and went on to be the most well-liked, this week’s effort will end up being the most divisive.  It offers little in terms of comedy and conventional narrative – it’s more or less an extended surrealist doodle.  But boy, did it ever work for me.

More so than with just about any series in recent years, it’s crucial to read the credits if you want to know what to expect from an upcoming episode.  The director this week is Choi Eun-Young, who’s two things very rare among anime directors – a woman and of Korean descent.  More crucially she’s a disciple of Kaiba and Tatami Galaxy director Yuasa Masaaki – whose singular vision tends to be pretty divisive itself – and that aesthetic is all over this episode.  I sometimes struggled with Yuasa’s perspective growing tiresome over the course of an entire series, but Choi-sensei’s vision is a spectacular success for this episode (which was written by Watanbe himself, as was the premiere).

In short, I loved pretty much everything about this episode.  I have to start not with the visuals, but with the music, which seamlessly blends with those visuals and bathes the entire ep in a bouncy, bizarre and oddly hypnotic rhythm.  We’ve come to expect incredible visuals from Space Dandy but these were some of the best – a fabulous riot of colors and irregular shapes constantly in motion in a kind of native dance of the plants.  This is psychedelia in a way we rarely see it in anime – if you’ve watched Kaiba (or played LocoRoco) you have some sense of what to expect, but the look of this episode was even more distinctive and spectacular.

It’s fitting that the speech of the sentient plants via Dandy’s wrist translator is halting and deliberate, because that’s exactly how the story is laid out.  We have the gang traveling to planet Planta in search of Code D, a rare alien Meow has read about in “Space Adventurer Magazine”.  Some kind of force field prevents the Aloha Oe from landing, but happily QT has modded the transporter so that it’s now lightning-fast – unhappily at the expense of accuracy, as it deposits Meow and Dandy in mid-air (and some distance apart).  One painful landing later, each comes into contact with one of the two sentient plant species on the planet – Dandy the advanced Vegims, and Meow the tribal Movies – and that’s where the real story begins.

The last time this happened (Episode 6) we got a very straightforward comedy that was an homage to 70’s science-fiction but this is handled in completely the opposite way – there’s nothing broad or conventional about it.  What’s happening to Meow (the “foie gras treatment”) is immediately obvious, but most of the focus is on Dandy.  He’s collected by scientist Dr. H (the great Mugihito), who’s never seen a human (or any non plant or microbe) and initially mistakes Dandy for a strange plant.  We also meet his daughter 033H (Tomoko Kaneda, who does great things with very few words), who’s a surprisingly cutting twist on this particular moe trope.

Dr. H is kind and welcoming to Dandy once he’s been identified, and he too seeks to know more of the mysterious Code D – which emits a hormone that causes plants to expand to even more preposterous size.  What he doesn’t realize is that it’s also Code D’s presence (it turns out to have been a meteorite) that gave the plants of Planta their sentience – and when Dandy and 033H (I’m not clear on why her father allowed her to come) go on a magnificently surrealistic journey to find and retrieve Code D, the result is the end of sentience on Planta.  Dr. H is sanguine as his evolution reverses itself – “This is not an ending, but a new beginning.”  For Meow, it seems, this all happens just in the nick of time – and once again all of the main trio escape the chop (and in an ep where the transporter was used, too).

Any time you try and describe an unconventional story that’s mostly told in image and sound using words on a screen, you’re going to lose most of its essence – and none of the above does justice to the experience of watching this episode with an open mind.  I keep falling back on the same words – hypnotic, surreal, psychedelic – and it ends up working quite well on an emotional level too.  The entire episode is a triumph of imagination and a ringing endorsement of Watanabe-sensei’s approach of allowing his staff almost total creative freedom in crafting their individual episodes.  It’s one of the best episodes in this series, and one of the best of the season.

Space Dandy - 09 - Large 07 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 08 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 09
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 11 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 12 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 13
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 14 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 15 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 16
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 17 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 18 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 19
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 20 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 21 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 22
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 24 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 25 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 26
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 27 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 28 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 29
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 30 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 31 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 32
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 34 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 35 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 36
Space Dandy - 09 - Large 37 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 38 Space Dandy - 09 - Large 39


  1. j

    As psychedelic enjoyable this episode was (it even has several scenes where Dandy looked, well, high) I certainly liked more how they tied it up in the end in a coherent manner.

    Having said that there is something that has been bothering me.

    There seems to be a trend in these last few episodes. Episode 8 had very little in regards of comedy (and a lot of it seemed somewhat forced) while this one had almost no comedy at all. The next one seems to focus on Meow and although the preview hinted to a return the usual comedy, Meow sounded very serious. Unless of course that's the joke, for Meow is serious business but to everybody else is just plain silly.

    Usually when the comedies do a shift in drama it usually indicates that is getting to the end of the season or even the end of the whole series.

    I wouldn't be surprised if after the Meow episode we get a QT episode and finally ending with a focus on Dandy and the Gogol empire (could be a two-parter) to cap the series.

    Of course it could only be that Space Dandy is just trying something different (and Space Dandy is all about Creative Freedom) and we still have a second Cour of the adventures of the Dandy in space. I certainly would like more of this insanity that Watanabe is trowing at us but if that's as far as we get then I can only say…

    See you Space Dandy…

  2. w

    Awesome. Just wow. This has definitely been my favorite episode so far, loved everything it did. I'm glad this worked for you as well as it did for me.

  3. A

    I definitely loved this episode. I think that all in all both the look of the episode and the stilted dialogue made this the most alien of alien worlds Dandy & crew have visited.

    I think the way the series has been structured makes it ideal for this kind of bold experimentation with style.

  4. s

    Haha…i see what they did there; Code D…Codeine…pretty much explains the hypnotic, psychedelic nature of this ep

  5. R


    I've watched Kaiba before (loved the soundtrack quite a bit) and I thought THAT was a trip (and it still is, especially the last few episodes) but this was like a trip….on LSD or something. I don't know.

    But really, who needs hallucinogenic when you can just watch Space Dandy? (I kid, mostly) That being said, it stands out simply because I haven't really seen anything like this in anime in such a long time (jeez, when did Kaiba come out again?) and because it's some of the most creative stuff I've seen from the medium for a long time as well (not quite as long as the previous statement).

    This series is definitely pretty hit and miss, but I've never not enjoyed it. Strong visuals help of course, but I think it's just, when you put it next to the endless parade of unending clichés that's absorbed most of modern anime (most, please hold out my bastions of seinen and josei) it just automatically pops out more. I mean, I enjoy cliché shows too but you can see everything coming from a mile away. You try to ask me to predict what's going to happen in an episode of Space Dandy and I'll tell you that I have a better chance at winning the lottery.

    Three times over.

  6. Y

    So I'm not the only one who was reminded of LocoRoco… 😉

    I want some of whatever they're smoking… It's got to be pretty potent.

  7. Trust me, it's not the kind of stuff you smoke.

  8. M

    I don't how anyone could hate this episode, especially Yuasa fans. But even then, I wasn't distracted enough by wacky visuals to realise that ultimately this episode was a very thin story stretched over a very thick canvas. A lot of monotonous visual padding stole some of the shine off the episode.

    Ironically, this episode felt the least Watanabe of the lot. So much so that it was difficult to gauge just what influence his direction had over the ep – perhaps a testament to his subtle craftsmanship? Not an especially amusing or creative 23 minutes, but certainly unusual/pleasant as others have said. Can't help but think that they may as well have gone the distance and hired Yuasa though. Bring on Ping Pong.

    Interesting preview for next week. These writers almost never know what to do with the clueless kitty, so who knows how they'll delve into that one.

  9. J

    the interesting thing being that he actually wrote the story in this episode.

  10. M

    Ah. That was the least impressive part.

  11. S

    I've read on Twitter that yesterday Watanabe in the interview confirmed that Space Dandy is a 26-episode show. Which means that we'll get a second cour later this year. Really, really nice news.

  12. I've heard the same thing. Can't independently confirm it, but it seems to be pretty reliable information. Good news indeed if true.

  13. J

    This episode had kinda a Planet of the Apes feeling to me.

    They end up on a planet, trapped (or nearly eaten), and then get saved by a friendly scientist, who is also suspicious of the current worldview of his species, and goes out to find the special origins of his race.

    Of course here they all become plants again, and Dandy spent a lot less time in captivity, but I think it had that old-school sixties sci-fi vibe going for it.

Leave a Comment