Initially daily but now sporadic blog about anime and world animation with a specific focus on the artists behind the work. Written by Ben Ettinger.
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Archives for: July 2014, 17

Thursday, July 17, 2014

04:38:00 pm , 813 words, 3184 views     Categories: TV, Space Dandy

Space Dandy #14

Dandy & co are back after a few months' absence with another season. I missed the show and I'm glad to get to see more. It's got a nicely balanced combination of silliness and creative animation and design work that makes it easy to watch. It's space opera via the cartoon. I can't get enough.

The show comes back with a bang. Writer Kimiko Ueno delivers one the most absurd episodes yet: Dandy & co. are beset by a horde of parallel universe doppelgangers. Storyboarding this material into great entertainment is Goro Taniguchi, who gave us the racing episode, one of the other most entertaining episodes in the show.

The episode plays up the parallel universe aspect that has been hinted at since the beginning, revealing the truth in one go without any real fanfare, almost like an afterthought. Which is perfect for this show.

Dandy seems to remember being a truck driver in a past life, and it turns out he was actually remembering an alternative universe version of himself. The episode regales us with a bunch of different visions of how Bones' Space Dandy could have gone. We could have had a typical cheesy anime version where he's a cool bidanshi and Honey is an annoying sqeaky-voiced anime babe hanging off his neck. Or the Osamu Tezuka version where QT speaks in autotune. The afro-haired Ideon Dandy with a Ganga Rubu QT. Space Ninja Dandy headed by Char Dandy. Space Cop Dandy starring Cobra Dandy. Essentially the episode lets Dandy play dress-up as all of the classic space anime heroes of yore. We even get an Attack on Titan Dandy. I mentioned being reminded of Schrodinger's Cat in a previous episode, and one of Meow's incarnation here is a Schrodinger's Alien.

If the show's gimmick has been its variety of designs by different folks, this episode is the biggest bash of that aspect yet. It featured one-shot designs by no less than 8 folks, all in completely different styles befitting completely different shows. Apparently the reason for this large number of designs is this: the designs were not actually made for this episode but were the early pre-production design ideas for what direction to go with the show. So the parallel universes we're seeing are actually, not metaphorically, different versions of the show that might have been. That's a clever way of utilizing pre-production work that would otherwise have gone unused.

I'm particularly partial to Naoyuki Asano's heta-uma Space Ninja team, but there's lots of great fun designs in there. Yoshimichi Kameda's sex doll girl looks like an homage to Lasa from Birth. What was that white substance on her face supposed to be? It didn't look like tears to me. Kameda also designed the seemingly Tezuka manga-inspired Goku Dandy & crew. Talented designer Shigeto Koyama, who most recently worked on Kill La Kill, provided some very stylish designs for the blue-haired Dandy crew. Yutaka Nakamura, of all people, provided some designs - a first for the animator as far as I'm aware. There are so many new designs that they didn't even show all the designs on the home page this time around. I don't know who designed the Ideon crew, but I appreciate the thought that went into the design: Dandy looks like he has Lupin's face and Cosmo's hair. Add that to the growing list of Ideon references in the show.

On the animator side of things, there's a lot of fun work in there in disparate styles befitting the different designs. I'm assuming Naoyuki Asano animated his own Space Ninja team, which moves with the same heta-uma aesthetic as the music video he did recently. I think the attack of Meow in the blue-haired bidanshi Dandy scene was animated by Kanada-school animator Toshiyuki Sato, who provided the scene in the hallway in the zombie episode. I like the drawings of the slot machine scene, but I can't ID the animator. Stepping through the drawings, I was surprised to find some subliminal advertising for Pocari Sweat and Domino's Pizza.

Yoshimichi Kameda's Goku characters were animated with verve first by Norifumi Kugai and then Bahi JD. Bahi's section is shorter this time but just as densely packed as the bit he did in episode 1, with the crew being tossed around in the air by an attacking enemy, in the process doing a bunch of quick actions in mid-air such as Dandy attempting to surf on Meow. Goku Dandy is a Michael Jackson wannabe, so he does the moves, but they're not quite right. His moonwalk looks like him running backwards. Eagle-eyed Jackson fans will spot some typical 90s Jackson moves packed into Bahi's brief but dense attack shot. I think I would have liked to see this Dandy with a show of his own. Gosei Oda and Shintaro Doge are there, too, but I couldn't ID their work this time around.