Space Dandy – 11

Space Dandy - 11 - Large 06 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 29 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 38

The chickens are really coming home to roost now.

I hardly know where to begin talking about an episode like that one, because it was so intellectually dense, opaque and a total mind-screw to boot.  Space Dandy has done surrealist and even psychedelic more than once, but this was something a little different.  Of all the many influences flowing through this series through eleven episodes, the one that seems truest to its heart is that of classic American science-fiction – from the mid-20th Century American TV classics like Twilight Zone and Outer Limits to the intellectual films that exploded onto the world scene with 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and flowered in the 70’s with films like Silent Running and A Boy and His Dog.

This is another one of those eps like last week’s (which to be fair, was better-received than I expected) that I rather suspect will be hit-and-miss with the audience at large.  As a fan of the sort of old-school sci-fi above I’m of the mind that Space Dandy has brilliantly found its stride, and that the last three episodes have been the best run of the series by a comfortable margin.  And we’re seeing the underlying plot strongly hinted at in the ED begin to assert itself, subtly over each episode but more overtly with this one than any that’s come before.

The episode starts innocently enough.  We have the Dandy gang trying to cash in an alien in a box at the ARC, with Dandy trying to convince Scarlet that as soon as she opens the box and looks at the alien her memories of it will be erased (not for the first time with this show or the last time in the episode I thought of Doctor Who here).  Naturally Scarlet suspects a scam – who wouldn’t – but Dandy is unable to remember anything of how he came to be in possession of the supposed alien.  Meanwhile, Dr. Gel – who is now revealed to be a brilliant scientist – is so absorbed in trying to decipher a mysterious formula that he doesn’t even notice when Bea spills hot tea on him.

Dr. Gel’s trance-like state becomes a factor when Commodore Perry announces that the Gogol Empire is going to invade the “Great Library Planet” of Lagardo, and Bea (who seems quite competent in the role) has to assume command.  The reason for the invasion?  Perry is annoyed at the overdue notices he keeps getting, and reasons that if he has to pay a fine anyway, he may as well just conquer the world.  The book?  “Mysteries of the Cosmos for Dummies“.  That’s pretty funny, but the real story is that it was Dr. Gel who requested the book – and the book was stolen, as we see in security camera footage by Dandy, Meow and QT.

This all really just the jumping off point, though, and from here things get very weird.  Inside the box at the ARC is a tiny book – the same one Perry is being charged fines for – and an invitation for a all-expenses paid trip to Lagardo (“Tabihoudai, Nomihoudai, Yomihoudai” – the last one the best joke of the episode).  Why is it that Honey from Boobies can read the writing?  We find out soon enough.  Naturally the prospect of free food and drink (and reading for QT) lures the boys to Lagardo, where the Gogol fleet is waiting for them – though only by coincidence – and Dandy chooses this moment to unveil the “Aloha Beam” which seems to have the ability to destroy entire fleets of warships.  A very useful option for any spaceship.

Everything that happens on Lagardo is strange, confusing and fantastic.  The weird-looking security probe, QT feasting on delicious data, the librarian played by Yamaguchi Kappei, the revelations – and oh, there are many.  As soon as the book begins altering perception the episode becomes mostly black-and-white and sketchy, like a finished manga changing into a name.  The book is in fact the Head Librarian (Shimamoto Shumi) herself, a parasitic book that can erase and rewrite the memories of other species.  The invitation is her assistant (Ogawa Shinji), who went off to rescue her.  She needed rescuing because she allowed herself to be checked out hoping to see the real universe outside of books, only to wind up in the hands of the Gogol Empire.  She and Dandy have apparently been together for six months, though he has no memories of it (naturally enough).

All this seems to be at the heart of more than just what happened in this episode, though.  When (via Dandy’s oppai doodle) Dr. Gel finally puts the pieces together, he says he’s found the mystery of Dandy’s power – the “Ever-Changing Truths” theorem – and that knowledge of this means automatic death for the recipient.  That certainly explains why Dr. Gel and Bea seem to die so often (they certainly do here) – and why Dandy and his team seem to cycle through so many different resets.  There’s even one last revelation when the “gift” the head librarian (who blushes cutely, even though she’s a book) gives Dandy for helping her turns out to be an old “restricted” VHS tape which “alters the viewer’s memory” – and the narrator tells us that afterwards, restricted media of many kinds drag the galaxy into a huge war, but there are no remaining records of it.

Now, I won’t claim to fully understand just what that means, or everything that happened here.  But I loved every minute of the ride, and it seems a good bet that this Ever-Changing Truths theorem is behind everything that’s happened in the series.  Indeed, with her ability to erase and rewrite perceived reality the Librarian (and perhaps others of her species) are quite possibly behind everything we’ve witnessed – which certainly leads to some interesting possibilities for the final two episodes.  This screwball fanservice comedy with no continuity is revealing itself to be a rather complex sci-fi rumination which hasn’t had all that much fanservice or screwball comedy lately – to the point, in fact, where I see some folks bemoaning their absence.  But given the talents involved with Space Dandy it always seemed likely there was much more here than meets the eye, and that in the end all of the seemingly random elements would be tied together.  I’m fully vested – wherever Watanabe takes me, I’m happy to ride along.

Incidentally, if you watch the English version, check out at least the preview of the Japanese dub – it’s worth it just to hear Yajima Masaki’s Narrator scat singing “Be my baby” for its entire length…

Space Dandy - 11 - Large 10 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 11 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 12
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 13 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 14 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 15
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 16 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 18 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 19
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 20 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 21 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 22
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 23 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 24 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 25
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 26 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 27 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 28
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 30 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 31 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 32
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 33 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 34 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 35
Space Dandy - 11 - Large 36 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 37 Space Dandy - 11 - Large 39


  1. w

    not for the first time with this show or the last time in the episode I thought of Doctor Who here
    Silence in the library?

    That episode was something else, though. I'd imagine the monochrome would turn a lot of people off, to me it felt pretty glaring sometimes. Still, Dandy's going to very interesting places and the stories are getting more and more surreal. Perhaps the resets (provided they exist) are causing a sort of unravelling of the universe?

    I do miss the comedy a little though…

  2. That, and the alien species The Silence.

  3. j

    When a show makes you watch it more than once in order to get "the full picture" then is already a win in my book.

    I'm not entirely sure that the "restricted media" aliens are behind the series events. I just saw it as a continuous loop were Dandy and crew were given a more technological advanced media each time that ended up being a sentient being able to modify memories and set in motion the events all over again until it eventually escalated in a full war that nobody remembers because it was wiped from their memories, they are able to modify memories after all (I can't avoid thinking that maybe all of them were female and the war was a jealous fit over Dandy). They may still be involved in all the events of the series thought.

    I find more likely that the equation that Doctor Gel was working on is the secret behind all the resets. We'll just have to wait and see.

    I was floored by the "Aloha Beam". I haven't seen any other ship in this series able to do that. More and More I find myself wondering where has Dandy gotten "all those wonderful toys". Yes, the transporter is crap but, who else has been shown with one? even QT called it "Wonderful" if flawed and don't forget the little Aloha and it's bazillion missiles plus the Hawaii Yankee (I find it incredibly awesome). did Dandy found them? or, do i dare to say it?, Did he made them himself? (just take a look at Hugh Everett Bio on wikipedia. I find his son's comments about his lifestyle very interesting).

    In any case, I'll be very sad when the first cour is over. It'll be a long wait for the second one, even if is only three months away.

  4. s

    I have said this before, but to me, space dandy is more of an ode to sci-fi with a comedy twist rather than a comedy with sci-fi elements (so personally im not surprised or taken aback by these last string of eps; i actually expected it to go down this route for a couple eps). This eclectic group of marvelous talent, with shinichiro watanabe conducting this symphony of writers, are bringing to us a extremely adventurous and enjoyable animated scifi comedy with a lot of creativity and pizzazz.; and its doing its job extremely well at grabbing audiences that arent that into anime as again, space dandy gives off the vibe of "an animated sci-fi comedy" sitcom of sorts (like a futurama). Hopefully, future anime endeavor to break this boundary between those that dont quite vibe towards it as i particular feel that the strength of anime (and why i personally love the medium) is the resplendent beauty it can provide to the world around us and the story it tells, as well as its imaginative levels it can reach through its artform; hopefully many people see that too.

  5. j

    People will no doubt label this as another episode with "no character development" and complain about it's lack of a continuous plot but the way I see it, you'll enjoy the show much more if you watch it for what the writers are making it to be. I saw the same complaints with Tatami Galaxy, which ended up being an amazing show, although the merits between the two shows are differently completely.

    But again, this is just my point of view. There are definitely people out there that dislike the narrative structure of SD or don't really enjoy the characters as much as I do. Hopefully SD, from what I've heard, with a second cour can possibly fill the cracks with content that can please everybody. That would actually be pretty neat, to have the first cour be almost purely episodic then dive into the universe bending powers that dandy has in the second cour.

Leave a Comment