I would say “that was a Space Dandy episode like none that’s come before” right here, but it seems rather redundant by now. Still, even by Dandy standards that was a pretty singular episode – an interesting combination of outrageous alien designs and a murder trial that was played surprisingly straight apart from the sci-fi details. And perhaps the most important departure was that it offered a genuine, honest-to-goodness cliffhanger – along with a preview that really makes it sound as if next week’s episode is going to be truly final (though I won’t entirely give up hope).
Written by Satou Dai – his first story of the season – this episode is clearly here to set up the finale, but it has a strange and interesting story in its own right. Dandy is on trial for the murder of Guy Reginald, a portly fellow who seems to have been killed by a baseball striking him in the head. He also happens to have been a rare alien species called the “Lumetians” – one which would be worth a million Woolongs if registered (as Scarlet will later tell the court in her testimony).
This whole trial is most interesting for the almost surreal contrast between the almost dead-straight tone and the wildly bizarre alien designs of the judges, jury and audience. I kept waiting for the dialogue to match the visuals but it never did, really – things do get pretty strange with the involvement of two fifth-grade boys, Hiroshi (Shirakawa Sumiko) and Skip Jack (Tominaga Miina) – who’s clearly a skipjack tuna, which is a nice gag – but mostly it’s a pretty straight-laced murder trial with the defense attorney trying to cast doubt on the wife, Rose (Ohara Sayaka) because of Guy’s 50 million Woolong life insurance policy, then seeming to buy into the idea that she and Dandy cooked up the plot together (she’s a late-night waitress at Boobie’s).
The funny thing is, this does get pretty tense. All through the trial Dandy sits motionless and silent, seemingly defiant – except it turns out he’s actually asleep. And Meow spots some suspicious messages in Hiroshi’s Chwitter account, which eventually leads to the revelation that it was he who committed the murder – except there was no murder, because Guy is actually just a very deep sleeper and a famous pro wrestler and (this is the important part) the reason Hiroshi’s baseball travelled through light years of space to get to Guy’s noggin was because of Hiroshi’s killing intent towards Jack for blocking him on Chwitter. Why is that so important? Because, as testifying expert Dr. Duran (82 year-old Kayumi Iemasa) – please note he’s a takoff on the character from Barbarella, who also inspired the name of the band “Duran Duran” – tells us, Pyonium may have the ability to respond to killing intent, and be drawn to stronger sources of Pyonium. And who’s a stronger source if Pyonium than Dandy?
That’s the headline here – not only is Dandy a strong Pyonium source, he apparently has no DNA – which suggests he may in fact not be human at all, but entirely made of Pyonium (though that’s a guess) which would certainly explain why the Gogol are so keen to capture him. And indeed, though Dandy (he finally does wake up) is acquitted, waiting for him outside the courthouse is what I assume to be a squadron of Gogol stormtroopers. It seems we’ve reached the point of reckoning at last, and net week’s Watanabe-written finale will finally see all the mysteries of Space Dandy tied together (which is actually kind of sad). If indeed this is going to be the final episode ever, I’m going to seriously miss this show – it may not be off-the-charts brilliant every week (I wouldn’t say it was here) but it’s arguably the most creatively ambitious and fearless series of the last couple of years.
ED: “All ‘the thing’s i am… worried” by Mito