Review: Space Dandy Part 1 (Blu-Ray)

Space Dandy is about a dandy guy in space. So begins the show’s delightfully off-hand approach to its entire production. It’s so frivolous, it’s actually difficult to work out how to review part 1 of this release. Let’s see how this goes.

Titular Dandy is an alien hunter, chasing down errant aliens in order to get them registered and earn a living as a result. Joining him is all-purpose companion-bot QT who keeps Dandy’s spaceship, Aloha Oe, tidy and Meow, an anthropomorphic cat-person. Each episode focuses on their misadventures trying to track aliens, falling into the midst of civil wars, alternate dimensions, secret societies or just hanging out at Boobies, a less subtle pastiche of popular American mainstay Hooters. There’s a group of characters who appear to be antagonists under the guise of Commander Perry and Dr Gol, but the direct connection and their interest in Dandy hasn’t really been explored in detail as yet. Or I forgot amidst the madness, which is a definite possibility.

There’s not a strong core storyline visible in the series as yet, but a little reading suggests this is a deliberate move and there will be more revealed in part 2 of the series. The execution is definitely all over the place, with some episodes being a bit more forgettable than others, though that may be more to do with me not fully appreciating the cultural or sci-fi parody or reference in that episode. But then there are episodes that come across as surprisingly strong, such as the crew’s trip back to Meow’s home town or QT’s adventures with a coffee machine being really solid. Dandy echoes elements of momentary brilliance amidst a sea of apathy, ego and perviness, but remains fun to watch in light of the ridiculousness.

While directed by Shingo Natsume, it was overseen by Shinichiro Watanabe who directed the definitive Cowboy Bebop. For fans of the latter’s classic series there are plenty of nods that suggest a shared or parallel universe, from currency, space travel, hints at American popular culture and classic sci-fi. In Dandy’s moments of inspiration we can see just a little of Spike Spiegel, and in his moments of self-indulgence we have Andy the Cowboy. Woolongs are back as the dominant currency, space travel is commonplace, the cast is quirky and there are many other elements I’ve likely missed.

Production values are solid, with Bones doing a fantastic job of bringing the eccentric art style to life and it looks shiny on Blu-Ray. Audio was good, with enough personality to match the sci-fi setting but doesn’t necessarily draw attention to itself aside from some inspired moments. The Blu-Ray is a bit bare as far as the release goes but there’s a nice art booklet included with the release, and the transfer is solid which is ultimately what matters.

Space Dandy Part 1, despite some inconsistent execution, finishes up strongly and sets the scene for what may be an interesting conclusion. The journey’s light-hearted and whimsical with some genuinely funny moments, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the series will conclude. If irreverent sci-fi comedy is your thing, or if you’re a fan of the production or directorial staff, I’d recommend checking it out to see how you fare sharing time with space’s favourite dandy.

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A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.