So it’s finally here! The long awaited bastard child of Shinichiro Wantanabe and practically everybody who was involved in the CowboyBebop Movie has finally aired (in both English and Japanese!) So did it blow my mind?
In a word: No.
If I were to be completely honest I wouldn’t be surprised if some people found episode 1 underwhelming and, personally, this was a worry I myself had for a while now. It’s true that Wantanabe has been involved in some major works, the fun Samurai Champloo and favorite of myself and many Cowboy Bebop, but the thing with those shows was that they not only had a plot of focus but while they did have their comedic episodes the tone was usually serious. Space Dandy is slated to be a full on comedy, and while Shinichiro definitely has talent, humor is always, ALWAYS going to be a grey area. What’s funny to one person won’t always be funny to another and so on, while some aspects of humor can be discussed humor is usually what one makes it. One Japanese man (and his crew) going up against the whole world on the battle field of comedy for 24 to 26 weeks is a gamble to say the least. That said however, I don’t count space dandy out.
Aside the fact that one episode simply isn’t always enough, it wasn’t as if Space Dandy was absolutely dull. The beginning of the first episode did make me chuckle with some of the fourth wall breaking and I did enjoy Dandy’s monologue about the world needing more ass man (in the English track at least, but I’ll be touching on that as well). There wasn’t anything especially funny in the boobies restaurant but it did show off some nice animation regarding dandy chasing meow . The second half of the episode is where things get a bit… trippy. Unknown to dandy, he’s being chase by what appears to be an alien gorilla in a ship that has the head of the statue of liberty ball gagged, this doesn’t mean much of anything however as meow accidently sets off warp drive sending the current main cast to a planet where not only an amusing and trippy animated chase scene happens but by the end of the episode the main cast apparently dies due to the whole planet being nuked…only to bring up in the preview for the next episode that they somehow survived. While I wasn’t laughing out loud the episode was very amusing, especially in the second half and the animation is, as expected great. One of the reasons as to why I don’t exactly count out space dandy however is that the humor seems to take a card from the episode title and just goes with the flow. In the boobies section we could have easily forced in a lot of fan service gags, but most of the jokes, whether they worked or not, seemed to come out naturally depending on the situation and in my opinion nothing really seemed forced. This leads me to think that this may be a slow burn and that the best material will probably come a bit later.
Of course I can’t talk about space dandy without acknowledging the fact that the dub will not only be airing alongside the original Japanese airings, but it also arrived in America on toonami first. I’ll be frank, I’m not a person who pays much attention to voice actors or seiyu so I don’t mind listening to anime in either dub tracks or the original Japanese. Out of the two versions I only saw the first half of the episode in subtitles while I saw the entire episode from beginning to end in English. For me the dub track seemed to help the humor especially with dandy’s boobs vs. ass rant and while the cast itself didn’t produce the best dub ever the end result isn’t bad either. Do not take this to mean I feel the Japanese track is inferior, aside from them filling their roles well too, there are actually some script differences between the two versions. The one I took most notice to what the introduction of Honey and her brief talk with Dandy. When she asks what it is dandy does for a living dandy simply gives her a hint that it starts with ‘a’. In the subs she calls him an ass while in the dub she calls him an… asteroid belt? What is this 2000?! Aside from the sub version just being funnier there the dub version doesn’t really make much sense. After doing some digging (essentially forum browsing) I happened upon a postfrom one of the people working on the show that little script changes like this will be present even further throughout the show and that while small it may affect the story at large. Why these changes are occurring is anyone’s guess but due to this I’ll be listening to both tracks. I stand by my opinion so far that I think the dub is a bit funnier, but I also want to get the original intent of the show as well, meaning I will have to see the subbed version first.
When all is said and done I feel space dandy will ultimately be a show people will be talking about for a while and hopefully it won’t be a case of simply trying to ride on the coat tails of its predecessors.