Rolling in with a metric tonne of hype, here is the dandiest man in the space. Oh wait, I mean just plain old space. They fixed the rather great broken engrish from the original trailer, which is a shame for lovers of great engrish like myself. The ‘story’, for what little there is of it, is about space-faring David Attenborough with a pompadour travelling around the universe to meet interesting aliens. David travels around with an auto-tuned roomba and a talking cat. They are followed by Margrat Thatcher who takes orders from Skelator. While not shooting nature documentaries they’re being ripped off at table dancing clubs with terrible food and depressed waitresses who wish nothing more than for you to shrivel up and die in a corner alone and unloved as they put on an airhead persona to drain the last coin from your purse. Then everyone dies at the hand of a surfer dude.
There are a few problems with reviewing Space Dandy. The first is that it’s hard to take the piss out of something when it’s already liberally taking the piss out of itself. Dandy as a character feels like one of those wise-cracking self-serving male leads in the vein of Cobra/Lupin/Spike etc, but there’s a very strong feeling that the show is laughing at him behind their backs. The portrayal of his obsession with the chain Boobies (which I kinda love as the name of the bar for its deliberate bluntness) comes off as him being a shallow desperate man with little else to live for. His empowered speeches are dramatic but complete nonsense. Every action he takes just leads him into more trouble. He’s evidently not supposed to be a person we aspire or admire.
The other problem with reviewing Space Dandy is it’s not even remotely serious. There isn’t anything you could call a running theme, beyond perhaps its total deliberate lack of theme. Jumps in the story are done in a way that deliberately ignores story-flow. The whole subplot with them being chased by the most powerful army in the universe seems so much larger than the story involving Dandy but is ultimately totally inconsequential. If you’ve ever seen Pani Poni Dash, it’s like those aliens who observe the characters from orbit in something much larger and potentially world-destroying but ultimately is only there to add colour commentary to the main character’s actions.
Space Dandy is wildly imaginative and looks great, but there’s also surprisingly little to it. It’s funny, but not especially so. The only part I laughed out loud at was the ingenious ending. I really hope the rest of the series ends every episode the same way. It’s definitely not the second coming of Bebop and honestly has very little in common with that. It’s very similar to Cobra except this time the show seems to be taking the piss out of the main character’s awful wisecracking, which I think I prefer. It’s much like how trying to play Duke Nukem straight in the 21st century when we as a society have moved beyond such a lead character. The booty chasing lead is now a sad man rather than your hero. I hope Space Dandy sticks to that portrayal of its main character.