Annotated Anime: Space Dandy episode 5


A more serious side of the dandiness.

You know, Dandy, you're an alright guy! Sure, you might just talk about boobs and asses all the time, but you've still got a heart of gold. Space Dandy is on an upward spiral! Every episode I enjoy more than the last. Every episode improves on the previous one and adds a little variety to the world. And every episode is covered in the fingerprints of the episode director, just the way I like it! I love seeing individual's styles show through and shape the episode.

There are generally two schools of thought when it comes to anime: one is that consistency is key and every episode should conform, both stylistically and animation-wise, to form a cohesive whole. The other is that each episode, director, and animator should let their personal style show through, creating less cohesion, but greater variety. They both have advantages, but Space Dandy is clearly in the latter pile of shows. This leads to sections like the zombies vs. the mercenaries in episode 4, which is well-animated but drawn in a fluid, sloppy style. The end result is each episode gets the indelible mark of the director on it.

Episode 5 was captained by Akemi Hayashi, a fantastic animator who has worked on many projects, such as the Gurren Lagann Parallel Works short "Sense of Wonder," Penguindrum (she directed the wonderful episode 20), and more. Here she has free reign of the storyboards and directs a fantastic little episode that was much needed in Dandy's arc as a character.

We had gotten hints that Dandy has a bit more honor than he lets on -- that his bravado is all bark, yes, but when push comes to shove he'll do what needs to be done. Dandy encounters a young girl named Adélie whom he attempts to register in the alien database. Granted, it's never that easy, because the Aloha Oe was towed, so now he has to use... public transportation! Good thing the flying train runs between planets! She promises to come willingly if he stops by the place her grandfather lives, but upon getting there they find he's gone.

While Adélie sleeps, Dandy finds out where her grandfather lives and they plan to meet up, but before he can tell her, she runs off and encounters a group of mercenaries hunting her down. Obviously, everything works out! It's a bit sappy and perhaps even cliché, but it works under Akemi's direction. While it didn't have any crazy action set-pieces, the art stayed wonderfully consistent the entire time and served the story well.

I really enjoyed the small amounts of worldbuilding as well -- the various environs that Dandy and Adélie passed by were fascinating and gorgeous. It's the little things that all add up over time! It was also nice to see very few boob jokes. Dandy can survive without them, folks. I mean, it's part of his character, so we don't need to excise it, but this episode displayed a skilled useage of them that added to the story rather than being a detriment.

Things are looking up for Space Dandy. The talent behind each episode is starting to show through now, making each installment a treat to see how the characters and world will be handled. Episode 6 is being directed by Michio Mihara, another skilled animator, so I'm excited to see how it turns out. It looks like a space-age take on boxers vs. briefs, which is bound to bring some laughs.

Stay dandy, my friends.

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Ben Huber
Ben HuberContributor   gamer profile

I'm the managing editor of Japanator by day, and a roving freelance graphic designer by night! /  more + disclosures


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