Monday, January 13, 2014

Review: Space Dandy 1.1 – "Live With The Flow, Baby!"

In my ongoing attempt to imitate a functional and popular blog, I'm going to review a television show!

I never had the good fortune to watch either one of Shinichrio Watanabe's two trademark series (Cowboy Bebop & Samurai Champloo) on their Toonami and Adult Swim broadcasts, respectively. As an avid fan of both series, I was understandably pretty pumped to hear he was producing another series, another science-fiction series, in fact, and even more surprised to discover it premiered at the top of the year.

I've consistently found, across the various shows that serially entertain and frustrate me, that a single episode can often make or break my entire opinion of a show. The format, therefore, that I'm gonna initiative here is a brief, 100 word review of each episode, followed by another brief, 100 word review of the series in general, in light of both episodes. This will hopefully put the overall review somewhat into perspective, in the context of the larger shower.

First – a synopsis: The show follows the eponymous Space Dandy, a funky, interstellar pervert, as he floats around the galaxy, ostensibly to chronicle unknown alien species, but quite demonstrably to ogle boobies on a galactic scale. Joined by his long-suffering robotic companion QT and a feline freeloader (imaginatively named Meow), the crew of the Aloha Oe are destined to embroil themselves in wacky, episodic adventures until the space cows come home.

Episode 1: Live With The Flow, Baby
In which the principal cast is introduced, the scene is set and the tone is very, very firmly established. I appreciate that, when contrasted against Spike or Mujen, Dandy has zero redeeming qualities and is just an unqualified buffoon. With only one episode to judge, their ludicrously sexualized portrayal of women is so laughable and cringe-worthy, it feels like satire, but won't quite commit to condemning Dandy as a lecherous hump rather than a playful scamp. The episode's ending was a fun twist, demonstrating just how unapologetically weird the show's willing to become for the sake of a quick laugh.

Episode 2: The Search for the Phantom Space Ramen, Baby
The crew's set on the trail of a mysterious noodle vendor, whose broth is so bizarre and unfathomable, they must belong to a previously unknown alien race. The petty plot remains enjoyably absurd and I was cackling with delight at the progression of goofy noodle shop names. Still no clue what the looming Bad Bad fleet has to do with anything, but we were introduced to Scarlet, the least sexualized, most capable woman in the show thus far. The script's more modern flourishes (Meow tweeting, the references to Gogol Street View) are also a refreshing discovery each time they appear.

The Review Thus Far
The show's tone – wacky, sex-fueled slapstick – quite surprised me. From this director, I, of course, expected something highly stylized, but never this bawdy of an out-and-out comedy. Surprisingly enough, the show's genuinely entertaining, laugh out loud funny and its design, as ever, is endlessly imaginative. Highlights include the various alien designs, the action sequences and the Big Bad's personal flagship – the Statue of Liberty's severed head, strapped to a rocket thruster. The show's more problematic elements, namely their depiction of women, continues apace, but maybe the introduction of Scarlet will rescue us from that somewhat, however unlikely.

More reviews to come!

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