Originally I was going to release this in a normal three episode impressions post, but I wrote so much about this episode that I figured it might as well be a singular post. This means that next week you’ll just be seeing a Episodes 9-10 Impressions post, instead of a 8-10 one. Anyways, on with the show!
Episode 8: A World With No Sadness, Baby
In my review of There’s Music in the Darkness, Baby, I stressed that Space Dandy, at its core, should be a comedy. Well, I’ve definitely being feeling like a hypocrite with this episode, because, like There’s Music in the Darkness, this episode is a serious one. But this time it actually works really well! Honestly it’s pretty hard to tell what the difference between this and There’s Music in the Darkness really is. Both are serious melancholic pieces that have twists at the end, but while I felt that There’s Music in the Darkness was a weak and out of place episode, episode 8 feels like a great episode of Space Dandy.
I think there are a couple reason for this, but the main one seems to be the direction and writing. Now this episode is written by Shinichiro Watanabe, which is a both good and bad sign. On one hand he’s the director, so he knows what he’s doing in terms of content and tone, but on the other hand he’s never had a good track record with writing. He wrote the first episode of Space Dandy Season 1, which to this day remains probably one of the weakest, if not the worst episode of the show. He also helped co-write the only below average episode of Cowboy Bebop, Boogie Woogie Feng Shui. As a director he’s great, visuals are definitely strong suite, but his writing often tends to be underwhelming and very talky.
However this episode is plagued by none of those typical issues. Sure, there is some unnecessary talking, but this episode mostly relies and visuals and atmosphere. In fact that is definitely one of the episode’s strengths, it’s absolutely beautiful to look at. Episode director Yasuhiro Nakura, the animation director of the cult classic anime film Angel’s Egg, delivers some stunning backgrounds and visual flair for the strange alien planet of Limbo, and it also marks his anime directorial debut. His direction basically carries the episode, and the haunting atmosphere and great character designs are a joy to watch.
The plot of this episode is also great, despite the more serious nature. It follows Dandy after he wakes up on a mysterious planet called Limbo with no memories of how he got there. Throughout the episodes we watch Dandy meander around the planet, and much like There’s Music in the Darkness, it ends with an interesting twist. I won’t spoil it here, but let’s just say there’s a hint in the planet’s name.
Anyways, this episode works, not only due to its stunning execution, but because underneath all the sadness and philosophy it remains true to Dandy’s character. At the end of the episode a character comments about how there is no sadness on the planet Limbo, and Dandy storms off saying there’s no happiness without sadness. The episode understands that Dandy goes with the flow, and that he appreciates the crazy and unexpected aspects of life and reality.
If anything this episode makes that more clear than any of the previous episodes have, because underneath all the comedy and hi-jinks that’s what Space Dandy is really about: Dandy, Meow, and QT struggling through all the crazy ups and downs of life. There’s going to be plenty of sad, happy, crazy, and calm moments during their time in the universe, but throughout the whole experience Dandy and his crew are going to remain themselves.
In the end this episode of Space Dandy was pretty great, maybe one of the best, and that’s all thanks to its great execution and underlying themes that are very true to the nature of Space Dandy. I didn’t think it was possible after There’s Music in the Darkness, but Space Dandy has finally succeeded in creating a great, but mostly serious episode. You should seriously check this one out, it’s a great watch!