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: September 2014, 16

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

08:11:00 am , 643 words, 9496 views     Categories: TV, Space Dandy

Space Dandy #23

Dandy becomes Scarlet's pretend boyfriend to help her ward off a stalker ex.

This is the romance episode. Shinichiro Watanabe usually has at least one such more mellow and sentimental episode in his shows, and this is the one. I can understand why they buried it late in the show, because it's perhaps the least remarkable episode of the lot. It doesn't have the over-the-top gag humor of the usual episodes, nor the interesting artistry of the auteur episodes. I personally would have preferred to watch a whole episode about the romance of the two aliens pictured above.

Kimiko Ueno's humor is much more subtle this time around, as she focuses instead on creating a conventional dramatic arc evoking the feelings between two characters. As usual with this kind of setup, Scarlet and Dandy predictably begin hitting it off and then when the week is over there's almost a budding spark there. Just when you think they're too cowardly to try to do something about it, they try, but annoying circumstances keep them apart. It nails that irritating cliche setup that was so common in 1980s romance anime. Kimiko Ueno's touch comes through in little spots here and there: What brings them together is realizing they're both otaku after they discover the tape in the rubble and begin bantering about embarrassing nerd stuff. I like the fact that it's a VHS tape. Even in the far future the hardcore nerds still cling to their rare VHS collections. (I've still got a few tubs of those lying around somewhere)

The fact that it's still a parody of a romance episode and not a romance episode comes through in the sporadic incongruous moment of absurdly over-the-top action. It's like they planted little bombs of good animation throughout the episode as gifts to animation fans for being patient. The first was the skiing bit where Dandy is chased by a group of rare aliens including a giant Santa Claus and snowman, presumably by Akira Amemiya. There's a bit more Kanada-school animation where Dolph Lundgren goes berserk, so maybe he did that too. I suspected Chiharu Sato at first, as Chiharu Sato is a veteran Studio Z animator, but apparently there's another person with the same name, so maybe the person credited here is the other one. (edit: Chiharu Sato did the skiing, so Amemiya presumably did berserk Dolph)

There's the sudden Itano circus, which really had no reason to happen and was never even rationalized and was promply forgotten by the narrative. Not sure who did this; maybe this episode's sakkan himself, Chikashi Kubota. Aside from being good at drawing character acting, he's long been an Itano circus fan (he drew the Itano circus in Dead Leaves). And then there's the human-faced spider bit by Bahi JD. Bahi's bit was certainly the most enjoyable part of the episode, the only place that I actually laughed. He even designed the spider character. Bahi seems to have learned a bit from his associates working at Bones, as his animation is becoming more catchy and controlled. I see he's integrated Yutaka Nakamura's tactic of inserting a 'subliminal' black and white frame to emphasize explosions.

The scene design for the space colony was done by a person named Junichiro Tamamori with a pretty impressive pedigree as a hard sci-fi conceptual artist/set designer (Yamato 2199). The weird thing is, his designs are impressive to look at on paper, but they don't have much of an impact in the final product. I guess it wasn't necessary to emphasize the sci-fi setting; it was just meant to be there as a background. Still, it feels like a bit of a waste. It was completely unnecessary for the stalker ex to be a Gundam pilot, too; it's just funnier that way. The Gundam mecha was designed again by Kunio Okawara, so it looks pretty convincing.

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