I want to like this new anime series more than I do. But again, I always want to like director Shinichiro Watanabe’s work more than I do.
The first six or seven episodes of Cowboy Bebop blew my brain cells to bits when I first saw the show at the end of the ’90s. Style mash-up! Characters with cool! Music on target like never before! (Indeed it was an astute co-worker at Rock.com who immediately suggested I check out the soundtrack to Bebop since she knew I was into animation and music. At first I was insufficiently impressed. I was wrong. I apologize.)
But after those episodes, a strange mist began to creep over the show. Wait … wait … they’re losing control of the storylines! The plots got shaggier and shaggier until the thing barely staggered to a finish (the full-length movie is more satisfying, but still not what I would call a smooth or complete narrative). Then the juxtaposition of hip-hop and medieval in Samurai Champloo didn’t make any sense to me (and the stories were downright dull).
Watanabe solves any problem with continuity in Space Dandy by having the bare minimum of it. This gives the space-alien-hunter-team a hellzapoppin’, anything-goes-out-the-window quality but also encourages utter raggedy-ass stories half the time.
After all that, I have to insist that Watanabe delivers ripping visuals and the alien hordes in Space Dandy are rich like Japanese folklore monsters. Even when the music and dance routines are stupid and stiff, the characters performing them remain amusing. There’s a running theme about food obsession (an echo of Bebop‘s savvy appreciation for heroes who need money) and maybe I’m prejudiced, but I thought of the episodes I have seen, the one featuring Ukelele Man called “There’s Music in Darkness, Baby” was easily the most well written (even if the end left threads dangling).
Although gotta say, main recurring villain Dr. Gel has no personality, and the show badly needs a female character who’s more than giggles or lovelorn T&A. For now I’ll show up for the color pallet and the action sequences.
Confirms how hard it is to slap diverse elements together in an ideal animation combo even for a little while, as in the early Bebop.
Getcher tail out of there, Meow.