ANIME & MANGA - Review
11:00 - 22nd August 2015, by David West

Space Dandy Season 2

The (very occasionally) intrepid crew of the Aloha Oe return for another round of spacefaring silliness that takes in string theory, fishing and musical numbers. For those new to the show, Dandy travels the universe looking for rare aliens that he can take to the Alien Registration Centre to collect a reward. He’s accompanied in his exploits by the cat-like Meow and the robotic QT.

As was the case with the first season, this second batch can be hit and miss, but it does generally build in strength as it goes along. Some of the gags are very obvious – calling Dandy’s favourite restaurant chain Boobies is miserably literal and even less of a gag than the real life Hooters franchise. The first episode sees Dandy accidentally pull himself into parallel universes by virtue of a stray hair that turns out to be a cosmic string. This allows the series to explore numerous different incarnations of Dandy, Meow and QT across the dimensions. But that’s followed by one of the weakest instalments, as Dandy travels to a remote planet hoping to meet a hot alien girl who turns out to be a puppet with a ukulele. The comic timing of the whole episode feels off by a fraction and the jokes fall flat.

Up and down it goes from episode to episode. The absolute standout is episode eight, where Dandy finds himself in a strange world that might be the afterlife. The design work here is fantastic and tremendously weird. Not quite as trippy, but very effective, is the instalment that plays with the idea of characters from universes with different dimensions, as Dandy is reunited with an ex-lover from a four-dimensional universe who is being stalked by her ex from a two-dimensional universe. It provides a reminder that while the show’s main trade is in gags and slapstick, there is some science behind the writing.

Another plus for season two is that it adds vital depth to Dandy’s personality, showing him to be more than just a vain nitwit. This comes into play when he agrees to pose as boyfriend to Scarlett, the woman who works at the Alien Registration Centre, to help discourage her obsessed ex who attempts to sneakily follow her around – in a giant mecha. But Dandy can be at his funniest when he’s being pompous. The best example of that here is when he forms a band called The Dropkix with a dashing alien called Johnny, and they spend more time bickering over who should be in the spotlight than actually writing songs. Musical numbers are a recurring feature. In addition to the Dropkix story, there’s a dance contest in one episode, and a High School Musical spoof in another. To their credit, the English dub cast tackles the songs with gusto, particularly Ian Sinclair as Dandy. Joel McDonald brings a dry humour to the slacker Meow, while Alison Viktorin is bubbly as QT, who adds to the musical theme thanks to the Auto-tune on her voice.

Space Dandy can be frustratingly inconsistent. Although the dud episodes are clunkers, there are moments of brilliance and when it works, it shines. In the canon of creator Shinichiro Watanabe’s output, Space Dandy is unlikely to eclipse Cowboy Bebop and it’s not as heartfelt as Kids On The Slope, but it’s fun and builds to an outrageous grand finale.
SCORE: 3.5/5
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