Space Dandy 2 – 07

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To take the familiar and make it fresh is a rare ability, and one which Space Dandy has demonstrated over and over.

We’re on familiar (you might even say hallowed) ground with this episode of Space Dandy, both in general and series-specific terms.  Parody is the bread and butter of this series, and there can’t be many subjects that have been parodied as often as rock n’ roll, nor that have been parodied as definitively – some would argue that Spinal Tap is one of the foremost parodies of any type in movie history (and the more straight-up That Thing You Do is also superb). But there’s a reason for that, and that’s the bloated, ego-driven fuel that powers the business of rock, which is in fact one of the things we love most about it.  That makes it a perfect subject for parody, except that it often crosses the line into self-parody without realizing it.

If there is something that’s been parodied almost as often as rock it’s zombies, and my reaction on seeing the zombie episode (S1E04) was amazement that it could find so much “fresh” in the topic.  Therefore it’s no surprise to me that both that ep and this one were written by Ueno Kimiko, who’s written some of the best episodes of Space Dandy over its two-season run, tending towards the comedic.  The episode director is Yamamoto Sayo, the veteran animator who’s directorial work has often been on the ecchi side.  But she stays very much within the comfort zone of the subject here, the episode feeling less like an auteur statement and more like a respectful homage.

We haven’t heard much from the Jaicro Empire in a long time, but they’re still out there dreaming of wiping out the Gogol Empire.  Apparently the Jaicro (I haven’t quite figured out what’s being satirized by them) is made up of two factions, meek and cautious mushrooms and hot-headed and combative robots.  The robots want to use the occasion of the Gogol Empire putting out their ultimate C.O.R.E. weapon out for inspection and replacing it temporarily with a plywood dummy (a spy in the Gogol Empire is conspicuously mentioned here) to attack them – the mushrooms want to think it over (presumably forever).  And caught in-between is their young Commander-in-Chief, Johnny (Kamiya Hiroshi).

Thing is, Johnny is living a double-life – he’s also a struggling musician trying to make it big in rock n’ roll.  After hearing Dandy humming a tune while taking a leak (Dandy, that is – Johnny is taking a dump) the two get into a bar brawl which turns into a troubled bromance, and eventually a declaration that they’re going to form a band and become the #1 rock stars in the galaxy.  This is, again, very familiar ground – the early stages are pretty much ripped from the annals of every high-school garage band ever formed.  They “practice” by arguing about band names, the bass player and the drummer (it’s who you’d expect) can’t play their instruments and they don’t have a single song.

That turns out to be a particular problem when Meow (by the way, I keep forgetting to mention that I love the way he drinks like a cat drying to drink out of a mug – also, his beer had a claw in it) gets them a live at a tiny club, and Johnny climbs to the top of the slide at the playground waiting for inspiration to find him.  What finds him is the Galaga theme and “The Flea Waltz” (which is known in Japan as “I Stepped on the Cat”), but eventually a fortuitous tofu seller’s whistle leads to a guitar riff, which leads to a song (whose “Hey Lady!” intro sounds suspiciously like a Jerry Lewis parody), which the band (which has been named “DROPKIX” at Honey’s suggestion) plays over and over for two hours at their gig, which leads to an assault from one of the two customers, which leads to the second customer Instagram-ing the brawl, which leads to the gig becoming legendary enough for a label president (Mitsuya Yuji) offering DROPKIX a contract and a chance to debut at Space Budokan – Johnny’s dream.

I won’t say there’s a lot that’s really new here, but it’s executed with such reckless abandon that it works pretty splendidly. Yes, the lead guitarist always fights with the frontman for attention, but the format and the medium allow Space Dandy to take it to comic extremes previously unseen in rock parody.  And I loved the narrator’s description of their struggles, especially when he says “The fought over drugs” and we see Dandy and Johnny squabbling outside a drugstore.  Eventually Johnny has to choose between attacking the Gogol Empire and making DROPKIX’ debut gig on the same day – eventually he chooses the latter, meaning Dandy and Co. prevented a war – and despite Johnny making one of the great entrances of all time (after Dandy has been forced to try to placate the crowd with “voice guitar”), the gig ends up being a memorable disaster.  Another one-hit wonder to join the annals of rock history, but quite unlike any we’ve seen before.  And that’s a hell of an accomplishment for Space Dandy.

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ED: “Misunderstanding Lonely Night” by DROPKIX (Suwabe Junichi lead vocal)

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  1. s

    Johnny sort of looks like he came straight out of cromartie high school, and that was enough for me to like his character. He and dandy are the perfect pair of dumbasses and watching them drop kick each other over their dumb quibbles was a hoot. Kamiya had some good delivers of his lines in this ep; I especially liked when they were coming up with band names and Johnny was like "Johnny……. featuring Omeara". Just the way Kamiya said Omaera as if it was an afterthought just had me bursting with laughter. Looks like next week ep will be the one ive been anticipating the most since i saw the PV (its always a good sign that a show has high production values and a great production schedule when you see clips 8 eps into a series over a month before the series starts in a PV, in some cases even 4 months like with the first season) for the second season. If everything plays out well, it just might end up being the best ep of both seasons.

  2. Yeah, Nakura Yasuhiro directing with Watanabe writing – that should be a big one.

  3. j

    So the episode that several (me included) had thought was another musical ended up being a satire with just a single song.

    I liked it.

    There was even some plot progression too! Makes me wonder if it will be relevant for the ending.

    If there is one.

    As time goes on, we have some little plot progression here and there (The last 2 episodes are relevant in that) but the way that it is played out makes me wonder if the series will end with a "normal" episode (Space Dandy normal) and none of the big questions (The "Hey Everett" ending, the intergalactic war of Jaicro and Gogol, the reason why Doctor Gel is chasing Dandy, the true past of Dandy, etc.) ever being answered.

    And what's with Honey? She had always being flirty but Damn! this time she threw subtle out of the window! Is because of Johnny? or is because of last week events?

    Next week we have the episode that was heavily feature in the second season PV:

    And, as sonicsenryaku said, the expectations for it are high. I think it will be worth it just because it features a Pompadurless Dandy!

  4. s

    I would say that Honey's extra display of "outgoingness" this ep probably had to do with Sayo Yamamoto directing this week; Sayo does have a thing for female characters displaying their feminine wiles outright….which funny enough actually made me realize how crisp the art and animation was this week. Makes sense with how flashy and bombastic this ep was.

  5. w

    I have a problem with Space Dandy. There are too many episodes where I end up thinking "Damn! I would watch a full series based on this premise." I could see Madhouse producing an anime like this weeks ep. Even the art looked more Madhouse than BONES.

    I would have liked the concert scene to go on longer, because it looked great! But that's just Dandy as usual I guess. It's always very good at the crazy second half. And I actually thought the song was pretty good… "Heeeeyy! Laaaady!"

  6. I read that. It'd be great to still have Craig on TV every day, though a half-hour at 7:00 seems like a bit of an odd fit to me…

  7. A

    I agree that it feels like an odd fit, but I imagine part of that has to do with him wanting to work less, not more. Bear in mind he will be hosting a game show before his tenure at the Late Late Show even ends (I'm guessing his April Fools stunt with Drew Carey was a bit of a trial run).

    I think it's kind of interesting, because it's never really been done before, which is CraigyFerg to a tee. It also seems like the complete opposite of the Conan debacle. I will say, though, the funniest solution would have been to give Ferguson a show in Colbert's old spot on CC.

    Back to Dandy, I've been meaning to ask, do you ever watch the English dub? I know you're pressed for time, but given the unprecedented primacy of the English premiere and cross-culture nature of the series, I wondered if you might consider it. Even if only as an afterthought or separate review when the series has ended. At the least, I recommend checking out all the music in both versions. I think the English crew knocked it out of the park on this one.

  8. The last thing in the world I need to be doing is adding work, so doing two posts on one show is out of the question.

    I do watch the English dub from time to time, and whenever there's insert songs is one of the times. I thought Suwabe's version was better, but then I've never had an instance where I thought the English dub version of anything in Dandy was as good as the Japanese dub. The English version is certainly better than most dubs, but I admit I find it a head-scratcher that some people actually think it's better – it's just a matter of taste, I suppose. I sometimes wonder if the fact that most dubs are so awful makes people inflate their opinion on this one just because it stands out in comparison.

  9. s

    There are a lot of awful dubs out there, which is surprising since we are in 2014. At least back in the day, eng dubs had an excuse for being terrible since they would literally just grab anyone they could find and pay cheaply to do voice overs (the fact that i still see some today is very surprising). But amongst all those terrible dubs, even today there are those that are really well done; not because they look great in comparison to the terrible dubs out there, but because there are some really talented English voice actors out there who really love this stuff and actually display talent as actors. They commit to the material and attempt to bring out the best in it because of how much they love the medium and i truly respect that.

    For example, I recently watched the dub for toradora and one of the things i was concerned about was if there would be a voice actress capable of capturing the pure energy of Minori's character (after all, Ho-chan is not someone you can just upstage) and to my surprise, Christine Marie Cabenos (One of the best voice actresses in the eng dub industry right now) matches wits with Yui horie and that is just crazy to me (although i know that may be hard for you to believe or be convinced off considering how much you love Ho-chan). Im personally very constructive when it comes to evaluating adaptations and give them the utmost examination when i do, but i mostly focus on how well the adaptation captures the original, and in regards to space dandy, it does it very well in my opinion. If nothing is inherently wrong with an adaptation, that it's cool with me. I agree that it really does just come down to taste. Im not sure if the opinion of people are being inflated because this dub stands out in comparison; a large group of anime viewers hate dubs…like REALLY hate it..even the decently dubbed ones so the fact that this one gets praise tells me that its actually well done. Oh but a warning to anyone reading…..if you loved Shin Sekai Yori……(dramatic silence)…..Stay away from the dub…'s not atrocious….but maaaan is it disappointingly lacking…STAY AWAY!!

  10. H

    Speaking of Dandy's English dub, I wonder if anyone got a kick out of the fact that Johnny was voiced by Johnny Yong Bosch… who, in addition to being a respected voice actor, also happens to be part of a rock band. Add that to the Britannia reference in the dub and fact that Johnny (the character) has something that looks like a megazord… you can see why the dubbed version of this episode amused me so much.

  11. s

    Yes, those coincidences amused me indeed; the thing is, Johnny Young Bosch doesnt do plenty of work with funimation so it was a surprise to hear him in space dandy and upon that, when i started noticing some of the coincidences, i got more if a kick out of the ep.

  12. H

    "Sayo, the veteran animator who's directorial work has often been on the ecchi side. But she stays very much within the comfort zone of the subject here"

    Didn't you notice Honey being super extra service-y this week?

    I wanted to love this ep, but I merely liked it. Great direction, music and design (Chogokin Gaogaigar Ideon!!) but I think the writer made it needlessly complicated by including the Jaicro Empire conflict. Should have been a two-parter.

    And yes, the concert was too short. Wouldn't mind seeing more Johnny antics too.

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