Space Dandy has been grabbing a lot of attention this season, and it’s not difficult to see why. It shares some major creative staff with Cowboy Bebop, and offers a similar sense of sci-fi stylishness. On top of that, it’s airing in English on American TV in sync with the Japanese broadcast. But is it any good? With all the hype surrounding its premiere, I should hope so.
It’s a dandy show… in space.
In terms of sheer style, Space Dandy is certainly delivering so far. It eschews the laid-back “cool” of Bebop in favor of a brighter, louder, more colorful presentation. Between the visual style and the impressive animation, I’m reminded of the recent film Redline. The first two episodes of Dandy have been something of a sensory overload, a reminder of what happens when a series combines big names and a big budget.
Once you get past the impressive sound and fury, things get a bit more uncertain. It’s natural to compare Dandy himself to Spike from Cowboy Bebop, but the result isn’t entirely promising. Spike quickly came across as a charismatic rogue with plenty of secrets, but the high-energy comedy of the new show has left Dandy feeling a bit more cartoonish. He’s more Johnny Bravo than Clint Eastwood. The supporting cast presents plenty of question marks, with their development left by the wayside in favor of establishing the show’s pace and tone. There’s still plenty of potential, but it hasn’t been realized just yet.
Nothing but high art here, ladies and gentlemen. Yes, indeed.
As far as plot goes, there have been hints of a big picture, but little else. Of course, much of Bebop followed an episodic format as well, so there’s hardly cause for concern here. What worries me is that a show built around jumping the proverbial shark can only top its own antics so many times. Dandy will have to give viewers something of substance soon if it wants to be more than a comedy in space.
Setting aside my gripes about the series, Space Dandy is impressive in terms of what it represents. To my knowledge, American audiences have never gotten both an English dub (on Cartoon Network) and the original subtitled audio (through Funimation’s website) as a show airs in Japan. That’s a pretty massive feat of logistics, and it speaks volumes that the producers would even consider attempting it. As an American anime fan, it feels like we’re being acknowledged as a significant part of Space Dandy’s audience. A bit of an ego trip, perhaps, but it’s a nice feeling nonetheless.
Did I mention how good this show looks? Well, I’m mentioning it again.
I have very high hopes for Space Dandy based on its pedigree, and it hasn’t quite convinced me that it’s going to scale that mountain of expectation. Still, there’s quite a lot to like about it, and I suspect that finding out where this show’s going will be one heck of a ride.
Kawaii Overthink is written by Paul Jensen. You can follow his ramblings about anime on Twitter.