Space Dandy 2 – 09

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The soundtrack of our youth continues to influence us, long after youth is but a memory.

In a sense, this was the perfect follow-up to last week’s tour de force episode of Space Dandy.  There was no realistic chance any ep could compete with that one on its own terms, so “We’re All Fools, So Let’s Dance Baby” didn’t even try.  It wasn’t an auteur-driven mini-film, but a straight-up episode very much in the Dandy canon, written and directed by solid industry veterans (Nobumoto Keiko and Miyoshi Masato, respectively).  The focus was on comedy with a dash of exposition – the latter especially critical as we’re now only three episodes from the end of the series (for now).

It’s pretty obvious that Watanabe and company are huge fans of American movies, especially those from his youth – the 70’s and 80’s.  They’ve been referenced as often as anything in the Japanese cultural lexicon, and this ep was an unabashed homage to the disco era.  The planet in question was named “Grease“, and the dancing alien who shows up packing his own disco ball named Ton Jravolta (the unmistakable Yamadera Kouichi).  Subtle, it isn’t.

Disco is one of those subjects that’s difficult to parody because it’s almost a self-parody in and of itself.  But Space Dandy has proven itself adept at taking on those sorts of satirical challenges, and this ep is wildly entertaining while keeping the mockery affectionate (I’m willing to bet that a pubescent Watanabe-sensei was trying out his moves in the bedroom to the soundtrack of Saturday Night Fever, and writer Nobumoto is roughly the same age).  And when you look at Dandy, really, it seems almost inevitable that he would end up on the disco floor sooner or later – he was practically custom-built for it.

The setting is the aforementioned planet Grease, where Q.T. has promised a once-in-500 years dance contest featuring the rare alien “Dancingians” draw huge crowds, and the winner takes home 100 million Woolong.  Alas no one has shown up for centuries and the planet is a ghost town, the only places open for business apparently a used record store where Dandy buys a record the owner warns him will cause “superinflation” if played, and a tourist information center which hasn’t seen tourists for a hundred years.  There the planet’s Chief (Shinpachi Tsuji) and wife (Tsuda Shoko) tell Dandy about the legendary Dancingians, which only his mother (Mayama Ako) has lived long enough to have seen.  But she’s been in a coma for 300 years.

It’s pretty silly, but then disco is pretty silly to start with.  Things get sillier when the chief decides to throw a fraudulent dance contest with Dandy and his magic hips posing as a Dancingian in order to boost tourism.  Only a handful of folks show up, but among them is Jravolta – who’s a wildly over-the-top sendup of 70’s disco cliche, and is mistaken for a Dancingian at first by everyone but the chief’s mother.  Q.T. does The Robot, Meow does… something rather cute, and Dandy uses Q.T. as a turntable and Meow’s claw as a needle to play his record and bust a move on Ton Jravolta.  And as predicted weird stuff does indeed happen (beyond the weirdness of the music itself, which I can’t quite get a handle on), which includes everyone aging and then getting young again when the record is spun backwards, and the arrival of the real Dancingians.  And yet another planet is destroyed and reborn in Dandy’s presence, as Dr. Gel and Bea once again blow up.

That’s all good fun, and pretty hilarious.  But it does also bring us ever closer to the riddle of just what Space Dandy is.  Dr. Gel and Bea show us that they clearly have memories of other timelines (or dimensions, or realities) by commenting on how it’s their lot to be vaporized chasing Dandy.  And the Narrator clues us in that Dandy possesses Pyonium energy – which is the key, seemingly, to his ability to dimensionally hop.  And it’s also something we know the Gogol Empire needs to power it’s ultimate CORE weapon, which presumably explains why Dandy is worth chasing across realities.  How did Dandy come to possess it?  I would imagine that’s a question that’s going to answered over the final three episodes.

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ED: “Space ☆ Dandy” by ZEN-LA ROCK featuring Yomeiri Land

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  1. H

    Fairly sure they had a non-sequitur nod to Rose of Versailles this week! Didn't quite catch the use of the reference though…

  2. e

    Hmmm… I wonder. It's pretty 70's shoujo all right but the blank eyes for instance are more of a Garasu No Kamen signature :p.
    That said there are are east three more refs for the old couple at the tourist office.
    1) Their standard appereance is straight from Takahata Isao's Anne Of Gren Gables (Akage no Anne) TV series: they look like alien clones of Marilla and Matthew aka Anne's adoptive parents. This has been broadcast in my country many times along with Heidi of the Alps since 30 years ago ;D. Matthew Marilla

    2) Then alien-Matthew switched to a manga panel I'm pretty sure I know from my early childhood but can't pinpoint. Ack!
    3) when the granny wakes up from her coma both alien.Matthew and alien-Marilla switch looks again and are close to Lupin III's extras template but as with the GnK/RoV example I can't name the source more precisely.

  3. H

    Nice observation on the AoGG's comparisons, the characters definitely have a WMT look to them, but still fuzzy on the use of the 70s shoujo style. But then this episode was fuzzy on a lot of levels.

  4. j

    In particular I liked the pun in "Akashiku Records" (for those who didn't get it here is the link: Makes sense that they will find something weird in there, although for Dandy is just par for course.

    I still can't get used to Spike Spiegel's Seiyuu being Ton Jravolta. We all knew that he would appear in Space Dandy but Who could have guessed that it would be in that way?

    I don't know what to make of all these revelations that have been presented in such a "by the way" manner in the last few episodes. Just like they revealed Honey's race, the Jaicro empire Leader is a Rockstar wannabe (still, he had one hit, I guess that's something) and now not only Bea and doctor Gel discuss their Team Rocket thankless roles while considering taking a vacation but the narrator just drops the bomb that Dandy has the coveted Pyonium inside of him in a very off hand way.

    So, Is the Pyonium in Dandy is the reason why Gogol is following him? Maybe to use him as a battery on the C.O.R.E.? If that's the case the I guess it won't be a long shot to expect a Dandy shaped battery slot to appear soon enough.

    Next episode seems to be a Scarlet one, will that mean that Honey's will be next? (it was kind of promised with the Cloudian one). That would mean that there would be only one or two episodes for the finale.

    I guess that's good enough for Watanabe and co. but I'm kind of divided here. I want a great finale for Space Dandy but I wouldn't be against another season (or a movie) as long as it keeps the quality of the writing. Does anybody know if Watanabe has made an anime with more that 26 episodes?

  5. Nice, I missed that pun.

    I don't think Watanabe has done anything longer than two cours. I'd also be surprised if we get a full Honey episode after she already got one, and I'm not sure that was actually Scarlet in the preview either.

  6. s

    oh that was scarlet all right; looks like they might actually capitalize on the whole her falling for dandy thing that started in ep 6 of season 2

  7. A

    It wouldn't surprise me if the whole thing with multiversal Dandies and the Pyonium is just an incidental plot detail that individual episode writers may or may not bother to use, and the odd references to other episodes are just fourth-wall breaking injokes.

    I doubt there'll be any questions to be answered or grand finale to tie everything in a neat bundle with cosmic string, but the last episode of this season may be just another regular episode. Which at least leaves it nicely open should they make more of it next year.

    Which I hope they do, if they can get more quality episodes like some of the ones we've had.

  8. w

    Yeah, I'm really surprised it took this long to finally get a disco episode. This was pretty much what I expected Dandy to be going in to it.

    The narrator felt very Douglas Adams this week. The way he described the Dancinians felt very 'Hitchhikers Guide'.

    Also my bets on Dandy turning out to be something like 'The rarest alien of all' and Gel and Bea are actually chasing him because they want the bounty. Provided they go for a comedy ending, that is.

  9. s

    I dont know if Dandy has always had pyonium inside him (who knows..maybe every being in the space dandy universe carries Pyonium but Dandy just has an irregularly high level of it) but perhaps dandy obtained a bountiful amount of pyonium in the first ep of space dandy when he pulled on that pyonium string and everything went wacky. That scene i think is a lot more significant than we were previously lead to believe

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