Space Dandy 2 – 03

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Is it just me, or is Space Dandy getting damn dark this season?

A marriage between Yuasa Masaaki (Ping Pong, Kaiba, Tatami Galaxy) and Space Dandy always seemed destined to happen sooner or later.  A series that’s given over weekly to a different auteur to re-shape in their own image and anime’s most distinctive auteur could hardly be a more natural pairing, especially given that Yuasa-sensei’s disciple Eunyoung Choi directed and co-wrote (with Watanabe Shinichirou) an episode already – last season’s brilliant “Plants Are Living Things Too, Baby”.

Choi-sensei tackled sentient plants in her episode, and Yuasa goes the route of sentient fish – and interestingly, the student’s episode was far more bizarre and surreal than the master’s, though “Slow and Steady Wins the Race, Baby” was certainly both those things.  By Yuasa standards this was almost subdued, with character designs that were practically on-model and a noticeable lack of hypnotic background music.  But it was unmistakably Yuasa – everything he does, be it Adventure Time or anime, bears the man’s unmistakable imagination and sensibility.

Yuasa starts us with a gorgeously drawn scene of a bizarre and exotic food court, where Meow is desperately trying to persuade Dandy to make a choice and buy something but Dandy is more interested in teasing him for his feline tastes.  Dandy instead ends up buying what’s effectively a cross between a teleporter and a flashlight – complete with a pair of clunky “D” batteries – because the cute girl selling them was “close to his ideal” (by QT’s estimation).  Meow accidentally teleports Dandy to a strange planet where he witnesses a fish setting up for a day of sunning himself and chilling to music – except it’s just Dandy’s head that’s been transported, not his body.

What follows is basically a Yuasa version of what we’ve come to expect – sasuga Dandy – in that it’s a staggering display of creativity with a guest cast of seiyuu legends.  The fish is Carpaccio (yes, a fish named after slices of raw fish pounded flat) and he’s played by a hilarious Namikawa Daisuke.  He’s from the planet Girlfriend, and he’s marooned on this, the planet Pushy Boyfriend, which has snagged Girlfriend in its orbit and won’t let go (Yuasa, you cheeky devil).   He’s figured out that his own planet is going to be scorched by the sun, which burns Pushy Boyfriend to a crisp every hundred years, and is desperate to get back home to warn his people.  So much so that he agrees (once Dandy’s translator finally figures out his language) to go to the Alien Registration office after Dandy and Meow (who’s teleported himself over using a mirror) help him get his makeshift ship to the surface and he can return home.

Well, it’s all pretty bizarre stuff really – amazing visuals, invisible giant halibut and silly plotting, poor Meow slobbering over the delicious-looking fish even as he continues to insist he’s not a cat.  There’s double-crossing everywhere – Carpaccio double-crosses Dandy, only to get home and realize his former girl Yoko (Shiraishi Fuyumi) and best friend Minato (Nakao Ryusei) have double-crossed him and raised a family together, and they’re not remotely interested in his warnings of imminent destruction.  The now-suicidal Carpaccio ends up being salt-encrusted and broiled as his planet is wiped out – along with Dr. Gel and Bea (naturally) and Dandy and Meow barely escape because Girlfriend is awash in D Batteries.  Once safely back on the Aloha Oe, they consume Carpaccio – now known as “broiled” or “dinner” – and he’s delicious.  Good things come to those who wait.

I’m not sure if this fits into the larger mythology, but it’s interesting that both aliens Dandy encountered in the last two episodes ended up being burned to a crisp after revealing themselves to be adversarial in nature.  It’s harder than it used to be to chalk things up to coincidence on Space Dandy, given how much of what seemed coincidental in Season One was in hindsight not coincidental at all.  In any event while there was a good deal of humor in in this ep – certainly more than last week’s – this season certainly seems to have a bit more of a menacing air than the last did.  And Dandy himself seems a bit more in on the joke than he did as well, almost as if he’s starting to recognize the patterns in his seemingly random existence…

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10 comments

  1. D

    I agree – there's definitely some self-awareness to Dandy that wasn't there much last season. That smile he gave Dr. Gel was like Bugs Bunny meeting Elmer Fudd.

    Also, is it just me, or has Dr. Gel been getting closer to Dandy this season? I may be forgetting a moment from the first cour, but I'm not sure they've ever actually been near enough to speak before this episode.

  2. P

    I couldn't help but have an image of Frieza pop in my head each time Nakao Ryusei spoke.
    Needless to say, I wasnt paying a lot of attention to what he was saying before 2 rewatch of the scene

  3. w

    Menacing? Well, we did just watch an entire planet get wiped out..

    Now that you mention it, Dandy seems to get more and more lax about the strange situations he keeps finding himself in. Coincidence? Or has Watanabe actually planned this from the start? If he has, that's some seriously subtle series composition.

    I didn't actually expect to like this episode very much – and I reckon Eunyoung Choi's was still superior – but it one grew on me in a big way as it progressed. A very immersive experience. That scene where they rode the cyclone up to Planet Girlfriend (jeez) was simply fantastic, in both composition and emotional power.

  4. There are reports that was animated by the great Ohira Shinya, but I don't see anything official.

  5. w

    Must start paying more attention to specific animators. I mean, holy fuck. The.. the wobbliness! Holy fuck. It looked so cool. Feels redundant saying this, but I do so love it when the animation is good.

  6. s

    It certainly looked like his style…the moment i saw it I immediately assumed it was him because of Shinya's notable surrealistic style of key animation

  7. J

    Shinya and Watanabe also worked together on Kid's Story in the Animatrix, so it very well could be.

  8. S

    According to ANN, this episode had quite a few (as far as I know) American/non-Japanese key animators who worked on it! Very interesting.

    Although, I haven't seen any of this season yet.

  9. S

    And yes, Ohira Shinya had a part in this episode, too.

  10. H

    Wow… Shiraishi Fuyumi! What a delight. Don't hear her gracing the screens these days. I get a sense that this episode would rock even without the Space Dandy label/budget behind it. Yuasa is a mastermind of melding kinetic and introspective elements seamlessly.

    It was a nutty episode but it didn't feel pointless. The journey in the boat was indeed spectacular. Come back Yuasa and Shinya!

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