Space Dandy – Season 2 (2014)

Space Dandy is a dandy in space!

Over the top, nonsensical but darn right entertaining, Space Dandy season two follows the same winning formula that made the first thirteen episodes so dandy, baby. Picking up exactly where season one left off, the dreamy adventurer Dandy (still sporting a killer pompadour), along with his sidekicks, a rundown robot named QT and a cat-like alien Meow, continue to make ends meet by tracking down rare, unregistered aliens whilst zipping across the ever expanding regions of the universe in their Hawaiian themed spaceship, the Aloha Oe. Finding increasingly strange ways to scrape a living, the trio frequently stop over at an interstellar Hooters-type bar called Boobies in-between odd jobs.

From traveling to alternate dimensions, where our heroes find different, more skilled, versions of themselves (causing damage to the space-time continuum in the process), to infiltrating a high school where status is determined by the ability to break into song and dance — think Grease (1978), High School Musical (2006) or television’s Glee (2009) — Space Dandy season two has such a zany care free attitude, it’s easy to get swept up in its swagger and just forget about life’s nagging problems.

'So, is she on the menu?'
‘So, is she on the menu?’

With a different team tackling each episode, overlooked by general director Shinichirô Watanabe, Cowboy Bebop (1998), the Meta series continues to tip its hat to Western pop culture whilst taking viewers on a weird and wonderful ride. Personal highlights include an episode where Dandy meets Carpaccio (a strange fish) on a planet named ‘Pushy Boyfriend,’ who informs Dandy that a nearby sun will scorch both their current locale, along with the said gill-bearer’s home world of ‘Girlfriend’— sound strange? Don’t worry it only gets stranger. There’s a sombre tale where Dandy gets an insightful look into both life and death, whilst regular babes Honey and Scarlet get a couple of excellent focused storylines, in turn giving the characters some surprising depth. In addition, things are more-or-less wrapped up tidily by the show’s vibrant conclusion, with Watanabe dropping a last minute revelation that puts the entire series into perspective — pretty trendy aye?

Space Dandy once again sports a solid production thanks to Bones, who provide a number of strong alternating visual styles that go hand in hand with the show’s varying topsy-turvy nature; for instance, die-hard anime fanatics may notice parallels to the animation styles of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (2010) and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (2007). There’s also some striking pixel art (reminiscent of retro video games) in an episode that sees a 2-dimensional universe enter the 3-dimentional world, but this is all before the finale kicks into overdrive with some slick flashy action vistas.

Good Day Sunshine
Good Day Sunshine

Similarly, this space opera delights with another first-rate soundtrack including a funky Daft Punk sounding song ‘I’m losing you’ performed by BTB, which plays when a disheartened Dandy realizes that he might have feelings for Scarlet, the beautiful hard-edged inspector at the Registration Center, whereas the in-universe songs — that were translated and sung in English, mind you — further illustrate the tremendous amount of effort that’s gone into the dub, especially considering its simultaneous U.S. broadcast. Rock ‘n’ roll, baby! And oh, as per the first season, the opening and closing themes are a blast!

Look, I guess the only problem one might have with the series as a whole is its ever-shifting tone, which could potentially be quite jarring if one wishes to binge watch the entire show. You see, while one episode might throw an onslaught of insanely wild visuals at the screen, the next could draw its inspiration from metaphysics or philosophy, which may require more attention from the viewer. With such a contrast however, if an episode doesn’t tickle your fancy, the next will provide something vastly new. So, whether one wishes to sit back, relax and just enjoy the crazy fun in Space Dandy’s loose storytelling or ponder the complex notions that its weightier outings explore, there’s something for everyone here, baby. And, while every episode works as a stand-alone adventure, the series cleverly comes together as a cohesive whole by the time its mind-bending conclusion hits.

'Yikes! Is that the Pale Man?!?'
‘Yikes! Is that the Pale Man?!?’

In sum, the continued misadventures of the dude with a pomp to-die-for, his feline companion and bot, might seem like a collection of haphazard ideas, but the reliable Shinichirô Watanabe and his writers constantly keep audiences on their toes with A-grade animation, a simple yet thought provoking plot and a groovy soundtrack to boot. It’s pretty impressive stuff really, considering the fact that the most frequently visited spot in the entire series happens to be a diner named after female knockers!

4 / 5 – Recommended

Reviewed by Mr. Movie

Space Dandy is released through Madman Entertainment Australia