Monday, February 3, 2014

Space Dandy - 05

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I suspect this episode was exactly what many semi-gruntled Space Dandy viewers were waiting for.

I decided to re-watch last week's excellent Space Dandy in the English version, just to give it another chance to impress me.  To be honest I still don't see what folks are talking about - I think the Japanese version is why better, even if the English cast is decent - but the interesting thing was that the Japanese OP and ED were missing (another baffling CN decision), which I hadn't realized earlier.  That's a crime to begin with given how great they are, but if those of us who assume all the Hugh Everett references in the ED are hints about where the series is going, how are the folks watching it in English supposed to know it's coming?

In any event, on to this week's Dandy episode, which I sort of knew had to be coming sooner or later.  Pretty much every screwball comedy has to have a "serious episode", and this one will no doubt be looked at as the most "Bebop" episode so far.  Certainly it was a massive change-of-pace from the first four eps, though whether that was a change for the better I suppose will depend on your point of view.  If it is well-received (as I expect) that will pretty much re-affirm the inverse relationship that seems to exist between my tastes and a show's popularity about 90% of the time.  Well-executed as it was, I found it a bit of a bore.

With that said, I'll be the first to admit that this episode served some important functions in the series' development, and for what it was it was very well-executed.  I won't call it a necessary evil because it was pretty good, but I do think this ep was necessary - necessary to establish character, reach out to a different subset of fans and lay the groundwork for some potential developments in the rest of the cour.  The vehicle to do that was Adelie (Hanazawa Kana), a loli alien of a species called Gentooan that has the ability (once every day and 666 seconds, though whether that's a 24-hour Earth day I don't know) to use it's tentacles to remove someone's consciousness from their body and insert it into a puppet.  And you know who's going to receive the treatment in short order.

My favorite part of this episode was that it felt like a certain type of anime episode you'd have seen 10 or 15 years ago, in shows like Outlaw Star and - yes, I admit it - Cowboy Bebop.  Watanabe-sensei's fingerprints are all over it, from the insert music to the pacing (it feels like a 22-minute movie, in the way episodes of shows like that often did but that you don't see much anymore).  That authenticity and retro feel is what keeps the episode from coming off completely as a formulaic effort - which, to be honest, it kind of is.  I mean, Kana Hanazawa as a loli is hardly avant garde in 2014, is it?  Another thing I really liked was seeing Amelie's Grandpa played by Okhi Tamio, Ken-Goh from Eureka Seven.  86 years old and still spot-on, bless him - and kudos to Watanabe for using seiyuu like Okhi-san.  See - if you watched the English version, you'd have missed that...

There's really not much to say about the plot - it's your classic road picture pairing the inappropriate and debauched adult male with the absurdly cute little girl that we've seen in anime and movies countless times.  I think the significance here is that we see another side of Dandy - most obviously when he lies and tells Amelie that he's going to Boobies, when in fact he's secretly searching for her missing grandfather.  He even lets her leave with Grandpa at the end rather than take her to the Alien Registration Office - thus forfeiting the large bounty for a Gentooan and leaving the Aloha Oe stuck in the impound lot where it's been sitting for the entire episode.  This is very familiar terrain here, but it's brought off well - this is Watanabe after all - and as I said, probably necessary for Dandy's development.  That said, if we get a return to comedy and a lot more of QT and Meow - who I really missed this week - I'll be much happier.  And it looks as if we're going to get that next week, fortunately.

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27 comments:

  1. For the first time ever, Dandy actually looks so friggin cool.

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    1. For the first time ever, he is the Dandy in the space.

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  2. So how many non-watchers of Shirokuma Cafe caught all the penguin references?

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  3. This episode was like a page out of Michiko e Hatchin.

    Certainly better than Dandy's usual hit-and-miss comedy if you ask me.

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    1. Woh, I didn't know anyone still remembered Michiko e Hatchin.

      That series was pretty laid-back and awesome. Who were the leads on that, and what are they working on now?

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    2. One of my fondest memories of Manglobe when they were still ripping. I think they are proper actresses those two. Studios should bring their like in more often.

      This episode reminds me of bits of that show and CB. I liked it mostly except the pedobear end.

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  4. The cutting of the OP/ED is entirely due to the US longer commercial breaks. It's a pretty necessary evil, better that then cutting into the actual show after all. Really does suck though. At least they didn't chop up the original op into 30 seconds like they've done before (lookin' at FMAB right now)

    Also 666 seconds of body-swapping, oh Valvrave writer, just had to remind us he was behind the episode.

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  5. So we learn that Dandy isn’t just a self-centered womanizer but also a person who cares for others. While it wasn’t really surprising and it certainly humanizes him, I’m not sure whether this development is necessary since it threads very familiar ground. This supposedly feel-good episode was a little bit too traditional for my taste because I actually like Space Dandy for its wild imaginativeness like the zombie episode.

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  6. I think the highest point of this episode was Hanazawa Kana she did great (Ok i'm a fanboy). I'm impressed with how well this show is managing to do so well in every genre, i hope they keep this up next week (i want more QT!!!)

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  7. The OP and ED are cut in the English airing because Toonami (CN) needs to air more commercials than the japanese broadcast, which is why they figured instead of disappointing fans by not allowing them to hear the whole OP and ED, they would just use insert tracks as the replacement. It's a loss i know because who wouldn't want to watch that awesome OP, but i get it. That's something that will be fixed when funimation releases the blu-rays. Both dubs are still strong (I think when you really give a listen to the nuances in the acting, you can start to hear the actors strength and weaknesses and see how each version holds itself in certain areas, as well as the script which at times works so well in the english version, given the feel of the series ( i personally love both equally).

    Space dandy, like the character himself, does whatever it wants and i appreciate that about this series. i like how it can be psychedelic one moment, and be something else the next. Every ep continues to hammer in what space dandy is all about and im enjoying this trip so far. On a side note, I was wondering why the animation to this weeks ep gave me Eureka seven vibes and to which it hit me that i recognized some of the key animations from Eureka seven Ao.

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    1. I get the reasons - I'm just sad that in this instance, they're not just missing out on good music and animation, but probably a critical foreshadowing.

      That said, the dub I saw had generic OP/ED sequences with no singing that I swear were just as long as the originals. Anyone else confirm that?

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    2. I doubt anyone that they are trying to reach with the silmulcast dub cares about the lack of OP/ED. I agree they look great and I guess the songs are alright, but I never understood this idea that theme songs made a show better or worse. It essentially has nothing to do with the rest of the show. Sure they can often be catchy and every now and then worthy of listening to like you do with normal songs, but I never personally got the rationale behind using them as a criteria for judging a show.
      Side note why are you hating so much on the Dub Enzo? It's not only done well, but is an undeniably great way to attract new viewers to anime. Maybe you speak Japanese and therefore can get it better than those of us who can't? Or is it just a you really like Japan more than America in every conceivable way kind of thing?

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    3. And of course that assumes that they are moving towards that Hugh Everett III reference as an explanation for the events of the series rather than adding a little colour to an ED song.

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    4. The OP used for the eng dub is 30 secs long while the ed is a min long. Put that together and you have about the time used for a complete OP or ED

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    5. I can see how not having the full ED can make ppl miss out on some foreshadowing, but is that really anything of any significance? If anything it keeps an air of mystery and surprise that watching such things makes you miss. And frankly I've never once watched any OP/ED more than once for any sow ever. Even ones I've liked enough to download and listen on my ipod I never actually watch when I'm watching the show. They are irrelevant to the show (aside from occasionally giving things away I would rather leave for later) at least from a plot standpoint. Why is OP/ED a criteria used for judging anime when it isn't for any other type of show? No one has ever said "man the Simpsons was great, but its OP wasn't good so it loses value as a show".

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    6. I suppose anime fans like to sweat the details.

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  8. quick question. is the english dub being aired in animax asia the same dub that is aired in the US?

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    1. I honestly have no idea if the stuff like OP/ED is the same, but the voice cast is certainly the same.

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    2. they actually retained the OP/ED for the animax asia broadcast.

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  9. "I suspect this episode was exactly what many semi-gruntled Space Dandy viewers were waiting for... and this one will no doubt be looked at as the most "Bebop" episode so far."

    As much as I'm sick of being lumped in the 'Bebop hype' crowd for being semi-critical of SD, I'd have to say this episode worked for me a lot more than the previous ones. Why? The titular character was written in three-dimensions. The child ("loli" seems too pejorative here) offered a good counterweight to Dandy - where both Meow/QT are lacking.

    The episode was nothing special, but I think this show is much better when it isn't trying too hard. Bepop was better for it too (the Vicious/Juliet story was that show's biggest weakness).

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    1. Plus subtle nod to Ginga Tetsudo 999.

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  10. just remember that episode 5 of cowboy bebop was ballad of fallen angels, which began with murders...

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  11. For me, voice actors and seiyuu are pretty much the same. I never bother to really pay attention to cast lists and I just listen out for whether the voice sounds right to me or not. I have no problem with either voice track, but ever since episode 4 I've stuck with the dub and haven't bothered to watch it again in subs (partly because I don't like to immediately backtrack unless I found the episode to be that good) I think for me, if I truly wanted to enjoy the seiyuu's acting, I'd have to learn to speak and understand Japanese myself, because it was fun for me to just sit down in front of a regular television and have a snack rather than keeping to a small box on my computer monitor. but that's just me.

    As far as the episode I'll agree that this wasn't anywhere near the funniest (episode 4 is still the best for me) but I was just glad to finally see Dandy act a bit more like a better character, and the michiko hatchiken/bebop feel was really nice. I also have to slightly agree with Maxulous in that I don't find Meow to be as good as a counterweight to dandy (I like QT more in this regard) and even the side character felt better in that regard to me. What I can say though is that I am feeling a lot more on board about this show than before and I look forward to next week.

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  12. As someone who had been watching the dub until now I had no idea the OP/ED's were even different. They added a lot of fuel to guesses I had already made about the nature of the series. I can't believe they were cut altogether.

    I'm not familiar with how CN works or the audience it draws, but I would have guessed they were afraid using japanese songs from the get-go would alienate certain viewers. Which then seems pointless when the left the insert song in the middle of this episode untouched. I wouldn't be suprised if they brought in the real OP/ED in the coming few episodes.

    Poor Watanabe can never escape Bebop, can he? At least it's never a bad thing to be associated with. I kept thinking how much more Bebopy it was this week. Even the soundtrack felt like it. It was nice seeing Dandy actually seem competent, but I think I prefer my Dandy stupid and funny. And I agree, really missed Meow and QT this episode.

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    1. The reason they cut the OP/ED is bc CN runs more commercials so they have less time for the actual show to fit the time slot, and they can't really cut out parts of the show. American audiences don't really care about theme songs in shows, so there's no reason to keep that in. Most ppl with DVRs will fast forward through that stuff anyway.

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  13. The robot is okay I guess, but can someone please explain to me why Meow is such a good character that his presence would be sorely missed?

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