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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« Two forgotten Tac classics: Manga Ijin Monogatari and Manga Kodomo BunkoSpace Dandy #23 »

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

12:41:00 pm , 606 words, 9904 views     Categories: TV, Space Dandy

Space Dandy #24

An old flame from the fourth dimension warps into Dandy's life, bringing with her some baggage from the second dimension.

Writer Toh Enjo of episode 11 returns with another cerebral and high-concept episode. The appeal of his script this time around is in how he makes the conceptual leap between animation, with its 2D and 3D modes of expression, and the theory of the multiverse, with its many different taxonomies of universes. These theories can be difficult to wrap your head around, and Toh Enjoh is the only writer on the show who seems to have a grasp of them and is able to integrate them into the Dandyverse. Which is a shame, since that's the whole concept of the show. It would have been nice to get a more detailed exploration of the numerous multiverse hypotheses. They inherently suggest so many dramatic possibilities.

Visually, I felt the episode was a little lacking. I think it would have required more ingenious and experimental animation to adequately explore this subject of 1D vs 2D vs 3D vs 4D than the TV anime format permits. Hidekazu Ohara did a good job with this subject matter in his Professor Dan Petry's Blues short by mixing all sorts of techniques. But that's not to say there weren't a lot of interesting visuals. It was clever expressing the four-dimensional Catherine as a tesseract (The Avengers didn't invent that), and it was an amusing idea to create a melodrama out of the love triangle between the two-dimensional Paul, the three-dimensional Dandy and the four-dimensional Catherine - and to imagine the repercussions of the meeting of their universes. Expressing the clash as a real-life Life Force-esque Konami scroller (with a bit of Space Invader thrown in) was a clever touch, especially as someone who grew up on those, although I would have preferred something more serious and less metatextual.

After Dr. Gel and his ship were transported into the 2D world, they look the same, but can only slide around like sprites. Shadows are lost, like they entered the Hosoda dimension. The layouts suddenly seem very flat and compressed because it's a world without perspective. Maybe this is what it would look like if Michel Ocelot directed a space opera. It's an interesting attempt to convey that they were transformed into 2D, but it felt a little half-hearted. I started to feel sorry for Bii, who is doomed to die every episode due to Dr. Gel's fanatical determination to uncover the secrets of the universe, no matter the personal cost. The denouement where they turn into lines was an elegant expression of one-dimensionality using the historical building block of animation, the line. Dandy, despite heading out like a hero, wound up having zero effect on the outcome, which is perhaps appropriate.

The animation side of things was fairly restrained overall, without any real standout scenes, which is maybe a first for the series. Luckily the script was able to maintain interest throughout, although as a result the episode wound up coming across as a bit talky. This is probably the last we'll see of Toh Enjo in this series, but I hope we get to see more of him some other time in anime. He's got exactly the sort of sensibility anime needs. He brings in some fresh ideas and unusual narrative concepts from outside the anime industry. He's been the big discovery of the series for me. Literary works have been adapted before in anime, but it's a good idea to actually bring such a writer onto a creative team to see what they can come up with expressly for the medium of animation.

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