Posted on 1 April 2014 with categories: Space Dandy

The end of episode 13 showed us the standard “Tsudzuku”, or “to be continued”. You’d better keep your words, Space Dandy!

But still, what a ride, what a ride. Space Dandy is a series that was totally worth it, and even the final three episodes pushed all of the right buttons with me. Again, vastly different stories, again everything comes together in every episode, and again we get to see lots of hilarity and artistic licenses being pushed.

I read the comments that you all posted for my previous entry on this series, and it just goes to show that you can’t please everyone. I was criticized for criticizing Kill la Kill for expecting something it is not, and at the same time I was criticized with Space Dandy for enjoying it for exactly what it advertised to be: a very silly series. Ultimately, this shows that things just boil down to one thing: did you enjoy it. And different people really look for totally different things in a series.

One big example is that I find storylines to be overrated. Sure, a good storyline is amazing to have and all, but I don’t find it the most important aspect of a series: it’s just one of a collection of equally important ingredients, and I’m much more interested in whether it works in combination with everything else. Sure, it can make or break a series, but there are plenty of gray areas inbetween: a series like Space Dandy has no clear cut storyline other than what happens in the individual episodes; but that works wonderfully. Although I do have to be honest here: episode 13 did not really feel like the ending of the series. It was just another episode, and even though it was a very good one, I do feel like the creators missed an opportunity to give closure. Again: you’d better have that second season actually planned in order to make up for this…

This really reminded me of why I originally became such a big fan of anime: Space Dandy gets it for me. It takes the viewer across a fantastic ride full of creativity and charming characters, great music, stories that stretch the concept that the setting originally started with, and animation that gets used at exactly the right times. What I mean by that is that the animation is used to make the characters expressive. When characters talk, they talk with expression. During the action scenes, you can feel the characters move. Too often I just see this done wrong, even with equally big budgets. Too often I just see animation way too focused at looking crisp (I also hate the practice of highlighting animation flaws using only screenshots; I mean, come on people, use your head), or animation that is too busy at looking flashy, rather than focusing at movement.

Episode 12 for some strange reason made me laugh the hardest out of the entire series. Episode 11 meanwhile was just the most surreal one of the series. The creators really did something very special here, because with this they added even more episodes to the growing list of stand-out episodes in this series. There are so many that make this worth watching. Episode thirteen was a bit of a step down, but still very adorable for what it was.

I’m not sure whether I’m going to write a review for this series, because I also again want to be able to cover the new season. I’m also doubting whether I should still use ratings. I originally used them for my own administration: to catalog which ones I prefer over others in an easy way. However I noticed that people on the internet for some reason take these ratings way too seriously. I’ve seen so many people get their panties in a twist because I rated something one point too low, or gave an “unfair” potential rating. I mean really guys: they’re only numbers.

Posted on 25 March 2014 with categories: Space Dandy

THIS. This, this is everything I’m looking for. This is the mentality that I have been waiting for for so long! This is what more series need to be like. Every single one of these past four episodes was amazing, but not only that: they were all completely different from each other and they all shined in their own ways. Thank you, Space Dandy!

Let’s start with episode seven, a Redline parody. This really was a comedy episode. However, it had me laughing so many times, taking the already silly Redline to the ridiculous (is it a coincidence that Dandy bears a striking resemblance to Redline’s male lead?) The best part of the episode was the ending. They really saved the best joke for last, and it’s rare for a comedy episode to have such a good climax here. It really was what this series is all about: exploring your wildest fantasies beyond time and space. It was glorious to watch!

Episode eight was just silly, but at the same time it was just completely adorable. The fleas were hysterical, especially how they both met their demise. These are the greatest kinds of comedy episodes in my opinion: most comedy series try to act like stand-up comedians, instead of trying to tell an actual story. This episode… definitely had a story, however silly it may have been.

Episode nine shows best what is so amazing about this series: here is the thing, one of the reasons I became such a fan of anime is the way in which the episodes are made: each episode has its own director, writer, storyboard artist and animation director. On one hand this allows creators to deliver a quality episode consistently. On the other hand this allows the creators of each episode to be able to give their own spin to the anime, within the bounds of the series. The latter is something that I’ve been missing dearly for the past years: just a couple of inventive directors who are not afraid to show their own style and vision. The focus has been put too much on making things consistent and way too little on individual skills. This episode really was unique. It in one way resembled Kaiba’s style, but it added enough things on its own. It’s a completely serious episode, but watching the plant storyline unfold was really beautiful to watch.

Episode ten starts the stories that are centered around the main cast, and this is a big potential pitfall for these kinds of series. There are two big ones that have felled a lot of series: boring back-stories and abandoning what made the previous episodes great. Space Dandy nailed it. This really feels like any other episode of Space Dandy, just about Meow. And his backstory is really great. They explained perfectly how he grew up, why he went away, but they didn’t overdo things: he still misses his own home, he still has regrets. Things aren’t portrayed black and white at all. And at the same time this show kept me laughing whenever it wanted to. This episode had some great jokes about time loops and I especially loved the parody on Meow’s childhood crush. The build-up for that was terrific.

Thank god. Finally another series that does not disappoint in any way. Okay, one way perhaps. Space Dandy is a show that’s difficult to get into due to Dandy’s obsession with boobs. That’s the one thing that really had me worried in the beginning, and that makes it hard to recommend this series. However, boobs have just become a minor detail in these four episodes, and really: it ended up balancing male and female fanservice pretty well. That’s how you should do it: give something for both genders.

And yes, I know I’m late and that there are more episodes out, I just wanted to cover these before I went on with the final episodes.

Posted on 14 February 2014 with categories: Space Dandy

Okay. So you might wonder what I’ve been doing. I’m indeed on kindof a break. The reason for that is due to some weird reason, I can’t sit down and watch an episode anymore. It’s bizarre, but what used to be so normal in the past now is incredibly diffcult for some reason. I keep getting distracted by stupid things like brainless games or videos when I even remotely try to think of watching some anime. It’s really bizarre and I still need to wrap my mind around exactly what’s going on inside my head.

One thing I know for sure though, and that is that I have not lost my passion for anime. It has definitely changed, but the one series that reminds me why I originally fell in love with this medium is Space Dandy. This series really serves to remind me that yes, there can be great series. Many just haven’t appeared in the previous seasons. I really do want to keep up this blog, and put the focus on the kinds of series that do catch my attention, rather than the ones that don’t.

These three episodes. They’re crass, but that’s also just about the only negative thing that I have to say about it. This kind of mentality is exactly what I’m looking for here. We have three separate stories, that are all obviously Space Dandy, but all of them are totally different. Episode 4 is a Zombie parody, episode 5 suddenly gets serious, and then episode 6 comes with this weird surfing story combined with pants and vests. It’s all different, and it’s all creative, and they all stand out in their own way. Heck, even the fanservice is much less, aside from the occasional Boobies mention.

OUt of the three episodes, I think that 6 was the weakest, but even that one had its standout moment when the surfing began. Yes, it was pointless, but the thing is the experience here. Space Dandy is all about adventures here. The ending of that episode was like “okay, they’re dead. Now let’s go surfing”.

Plus, the characters are just really good. Space Dandy is very funny to watch, even when he’s not making a joke. The new characters have their own charms. They manage to bring out quite a few emotions, and some of the episodes are quite intelligent despite Dandy being an idiot. Episode 4 was the best example of that. On top of that the show also has very creative camera work and key animation, and the music also is very varied. That all adds to that experience that I’m looking for. The great shows don’t try to excel at just one thing, they try to bring all of their ingredients together into one. Here is a case where everyone is working together closely, paying actual attention to what they want to make.

Posted on 23 January 2014 with categories: Space Dandy

Here is another thing that also really bugged me about anime of the past few seasons: the ones that have a very promising first episode only to just fail trying afterwards. I mean, I hate it, but I have to swallow my words about Nobunaga the Fool after watching its second and third episodes, due to how shoddy it suddenly got. Especially Jeanne D’Arc: she turned out to be completely useless. The way this series looks at women being just there as a second thought is much worse than Space Dandy and Kill la Kill.

Even though these series are bad at how they focus too much on their male audience, there is method to their madness. Kill la Kill is all about outfits being empowering, while Space Dandy is told from the perspective of a guy obsessed with boobs. They keep to their rules, while Nobunaga the Fool took a famous French figure and made her just stand by and watch, sometimes just randomly in the main character’s lap.

That doesn’t excuse Space Dandy. I know it’s silly and Cowboy Bebop also had its share of fanservice, but there is such a thing as taking things too far.

The thing however is, that apart from that, Space Dandy is the series I’ve been waiting for for years to come. Finally after years and years of waiting, another series of its kind has arrived: the kind of series that each episode shows a totally different story involving the main characters. I love these shows, even though they’re often labelled as being monster of the week, or having too much filler.

And granted, this is the kind of format that can be done badly. However it brings so many advantages and when done right it can work brilliantly. Some of reasons why I like it:
– Series that have this can be planned much better into their timeslot because every episode needs to be different. Therefore forcing the writing team to be on their toes.
– Fleshing out characters. Random stories like this are excellent at showing the different sides of the characters, plus the different sides about the setting this takese place in. Great for immersion!
– Variety. Series with a linear storytelling are often very predictable as well, and allow for very little chances to spice things up and make things interesting, because of the ongoing storyline.
– There is no chance to drag on. The creators need to create a new storyline every episode so there are no dead episodes, plus none of the episodes look like each other.
– Episodes are also much more standalone because of this. Because of this the individual episodes can take more risks. There is more chance for creativity and interesting storylines. A show can go on a tangent for one episode and then go into a completely different direction the next.

This is the strength of anime. something it got really good at at one point, but the format unfortunately got in discredit due to the bad reputation that the bad attempts got. There was a point at which I saw many people complain about “filler”, to a point where every episode that wasn’t instantly contributing to the plot as instantly bad. I think that Naruto was a big contributor to that with its 100 episodes of filler. Plus, it’s kindof difficult to objectively describe the difference between filler and plain wasting time, and just a good adventure. And this border is probably also different for everyone.

For me, what’s most important is that there must not be “dead episodes”. Episodes that just aren’t fun to watch or were clearly made to just pad out time, without any inspiration. On top of that, the different episodes also need to bring colour to the characters and show a good collection fo the different sides of the setting. It’s something that you can’t simply describe in a tagline, which is what makes this such a tricky thing to judge, and probably lead to the lumping of all good and bad shows together on one heap.

I mean I’m not saying that every series needs to be like this, but a few can’t hurt, right? With so many linear stories around today that are all rather monotone and more often than not don’t even end, it wouldn’t hurt to have just a few series in which every episode is about a different story, right? Just like how things were in the past? I really hope that Space Dandy will inspire a new wave of series that also will embrace this philosophy again, and the upcoming Mushishi will also help really well to achieve that cause.

When you compare this to Cowboy Bebop this obviously is much sillier, but the thing is that Cowboy Bebop only started to really shine when you look at the big picture. Plus, I’m not going to compare the two too much, because Space Dandy being silly has a very different atmosphere, even though some of its design philosophies are the same. And that’s what I find so good about this series: three episodes in and the creators still are making this look really interesting. Plus, the direction is also quite good, if unconventional.

I especially liked episode 2, the search for those fabled noodles. It was a very emotional episode, for some reason. It had that weird to describe sensation that made everything just come together when they finally ended up finding those noodle bar, and that one creature started telling his life story. The way in which this show changes its atmosphere: it’s also really good. And the music! That also is godly!

The question now is whether the stories will be varied enough. Episode three also was very good, but like the first episode the creators did strand on a hostile planet and got chased by monsters again. However, at the same time it also very nicely subverted parts of the previous episode (the monsters were mostly good-natured save for one, they actually got money this time), which is also very good.

The reason why Cowboy Bebop was so critically acclaimed is that on top of being really well made, it had international appeal. It didn’t feel like an anime, and it was and is very different to most anime nowadays which are often circlejerking each other for the same audience that they know will buy. It had international appeal. Shingeki no Kyojin is a recent series that also had a lot of international appeal that it deserved, I believe. Space Dandy really hopes to be the next one to catch an international audience, especially with the way it’s released simultaneously in English and Japanese.

I think the weird fanservice is because of that reason. It’s on one hand the believe that sex sells so it needs to be in everything, and on the other an attempt to not fall in the standard Japanese fanservice cliches that will only appeal to Japanese otaku and not the other demographic.

Also, does every episode have a different OP and ED? That’s what I call respect. Really awesome detail.

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