Sunday 5 January 2014

First Impressions: Space Dandy

Space Dandy - He's a dandy in space

There's been a lot of hype surrounding Space Dandy. Not only is the brand new show from both Bones (the studio behind Eureka Seven, Fullmetal Alchemist and more) and ShinichirĊ Watanabe (director of Cowboy Bebop, amongst others), it's also storming new ground by being simultaneously released in Japan and dubbed in the US on Adult Swim's Toonami block. It's not the first show to have ever received a dub the same time as its Japanese airing, but this sort of creative talent behind it its certainly the one to get the most attention. But all this effort isn't going to go very far if the show falls flat on its face on the first hurdle, so was the first episode any good?

As the seemingly bored narrator tells us, Space Dandy is very much what his name implies - a dandy in space. Along with his outdated robot QT, Dandy travels the cosmos working as an alien hunter to catalogue all the different types of alien species that exist. His travels take him to the likes of Boobies, a self-proclaimed "Breastaurant" chain which Dandy dreams of owning one day. In this first episode, Dandy meets a small cat-like alien (which he instantly names Meow) and is taken to a world filled with strange new life forms...with explosive results. Little to his knowledge his spaceship is also being followed by a mysterious scientist named Doctor Gel, who has unknown plans for our hero.

It's quite clear from the get-go what the audience should be expecting from Space Dandy. Within the first 5-10 minutes there's already been an uninterested narrator, fourth-wall breaking and a compelling argument as to why butts are better than boobs. Space Dandy is unashamedly a comedy series, and a rather low brow one at that. There are very few instances within this episode that aren't treated as a joke, and while I don't think the show is quite as funny as it sometimes thinks it is it still didn't fail to get a few laughs out of me. However if you aren't a fan of low-brow humour, this might not be a show for you to carry on with.

On the animation side of things, Bones have clearly got another winner on their hands because Space Dandy looks absolutely gorgeous. It invites audiences on a colourful retro-style space adventure with a pompadoured protagonist and a weird and wonderful selection of alien life forms. While the first half of the episode serves to get a glimpse at the character designs and detailing of Space Dandy's world, the second shows just how beautifully fluid the animation can be when the show goes all out action.

It was also extremely refreshing to experience this first episode with the English dub, as usually dubs only come out for shows long after I've finished them and accepted the Japanese voices as the only acceptable version in my mind (that isn't me saying dubs are bad at all, it's just how my mind works). I shall be watching the Japanese version of the episode just for comparison's sake, but the English voice acting was solid and will likely be my version of choice from here on out.

While ultimately I doubt Space Dandy's first episode lived up to everyone's expectations, it certainly didn't give enough away to either champion or decry it just yet. Visually it's truly a site to behold, and while the jokes seemed to miss just as much as they hit at least the show seems to have a clear idea of what it wants to be. Time will tell if Space Dandy will go down as another Watanabe classic, but for the time being it certainly has my attention.

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