Episode 9: We’re All Fools, So Let’s All Dance, Baby
This episode was a lot of fun, though admittedly it was very random. And when I say random, I mean it feels like they made this stuff up as they were writing the episode random. This episode, as the title suggests, is mainly about a dance competition, but it also includes some out of place stuff about searching for weird things called Dancigians, the warping of time through old vinyl records, and Dr. Gel and Bea dying for the 400th time. In general this episode really doesn’t make much sense, and if you’re expecting something that resembles a satisfying story arc you’re not going to get it. Things here happen without explanation, and because of this the episode ends up being rather unsatisfying on the whole.
The animation and soundtrack however are spectacular. Space Dandy has always looked and sounded good, but this episode features a lot of fun visual style and some great music that reminds me a lot of psychedelic disco music. That’s probably just me though.
It also helps that the episode is kind of funny. As much as I hate to admit it, the over the top randomness did get a few giggles from me. This surprises me because, as it turns out, Keiko Nobumoto wrote this episode. Keiko Nobumoto isn’t funny, but she got some good laughs out of me throughout the episode, especially with the conversations between Dr. Gel and Bea. She seems to write a lot better with the side characters than the main ones now that I think about it… Weird!
Anyways this episode was probably one of the weaker ones this season. It’s not awful, but it just feels kind of disjointed, and it doesn’t have a really good premise to back it up. In fact it reminded me a lot of the first episode of season one, mostly due to the fact that this episode, and that one for that matter, were just dumb fun and nothing else. It’s not bad necessarily, just kind of underwhelming.
Episode 10: Lovers Are Trendy, Baby
Space Dandy just keeps hitting home runs! Seriously, only two episodes after the spectacularly lush episode 8 and the show has already returned with another stand out story. On the surface Lovers Are Trendy seems to be based off a simple concept: What if Dandy and Scarlett went on a date? And while it definitely plays up the comedic aspect of that pretty well, but it somehow manages to construct an engaging romance between these two characters in one episode. I’m being serious, this episode of Space Dandy made me ship the characters, and only a show with true power can make me do such a thing.
Then again, I might be overplaying. At the end of the day, this episode is mostly a comedy, so funny scenes between Scarlett and Dandy are inevitable. We see a lot of typical romantic tropes like ski dates, romantically running on the beaches, and the epic first kiss; and the writers definitely poke fun at these events. In fact some moments of this are pretty hilarious. The beach and spider killing scenes are my favorite.
However, underneath all those laughs this episode still manages to build a solid chemistry between the two characters. You see, the main reason Scarlett and Dandy are dating is because Scarlett wants to make it so her ex-boyfriend will finally stop pestering her. This is a pretty stereotypical set up to be honest, and it’s the kind of situation where you’ll probably predict the beats of the plot, but like so many classic romance anime it hits those plot points perfectly.
Their relationship starts out as obligation, a means to the end, but slowly it matures into friendship, affection, and eventually feelings start to blossom between both parties over the following days. As usual this eventually leads to a first kiss and a falling out, but the combination of wink wink, nudge nudge parody, and the solid romantic pacing makes for a rather engaging plot line. By the end I was even rooting for the two to get together, which made it all the worse when, SPOILERS, they didn’t. Yep despite the typical romantic climax of Dandy trying to confess his feelings to the now upset Scarlett, they don’t end up telling each other their true feelings. In fact the episode ends with Dandy and Scarlett gazing into each other’s eyes melancholically at the registration center. It was pretty heart wrenching conclusion for such a goofy turn of events.
This episode also offered some great screen time for Scarlett. I was previously disappointed by her lackluster treatment in Episode 6, but here she gets a lot of likable development, and while she ends up coming off like a bit of tsundere in the end, she was still a character I felt like rooting for (Cough cough Toradora). Once again I really appreciated that they finally took the time to give one of its less interesting characters the opportunity to impress the audience.
Anyways, I don’t really know what else to say except that this episode is pretty great. It’s funny and has some pretty good romance elements in there. Admittedly speaking the pacing can sometimes feel slightly rushed, I mean this is a twenty minute episode after all, but it’s a pretty excellent story nonetheless. I couldn’t recommend it enough, and I hope the next few episodes can maintain this level of quality.
Episode 11: An Other Dimensional Tale, Baby
This episode is really weird. It involves Dandy and his past lover Catherine, who’s a four dimensional being by the way, trying to stop her ex-boyfriend Paul, who is a two dimensional being, from absorbing more of the three dimensional universe into his. In basic terms the plot is wacky, at least on the surface. Written by Toh Enjoe (Who wrote episode 11 last season) this episode is clearly aiming for some high concept sci-fi, and while it’s premise is mostly just there to show off flashy art and make everyone really confused, underneath the surface it has some cool ideas about the universe.
At the end of the episode Catherine and Dandy have a nicely directed conversation about how when you warp between universes you always meet a different version of the person you knew. This is represented through the split screen affect showing the same Dandy with different backgrounds behind him, and this ends with the punch that Dandy still believes that this is the Catherine he fell in love with. In general, this episode is very oblique and metaphysical in its dialogue and concept, and I bet you could get even more out of it if you looked deeper into the material.
Otherwise though, this episode is just cool to watch. The multiple dimensions are conveyed very interestingly here, and the use of art and sound effects to accentuate them is quite excellent. I especially like how it cleverly uses these multiple universes for its grand set pieces. For example, half way through the episode Dandy and his crew cut through the dimensional universe with a pair of scissors. How cool is that!? In the end, I thought this episode was pretty great, it’s not my favorite this season sure, but it has a lot of fun sci-fi concepts. Basically it’s another success for this season of Space Dandy, and with the final episodes closing in, I can only hope it will get better from here.