QT doesn’t understand the meaning or point of human emotions such as ‘love’, but that doesn’t mean that he’s immune to them. After all, Space Dandy is set far enough in the future for robots to be capable of such human emotions. It’s just that QT has never actually experienced love…that is, until he discovers an adorable coffee-maker robot in a small cafe. Even though he himself has no need or desire to drink coffee, QT begins to frequent the cafe solely to be able to talk to her, eventually becoming quite close. However, emotions and robots apparently don’t mix too well – they can inhibit a robot’s original function. When this happens, it’s not uncommon for them to be scrapped on a large trash island…which is exactly what happens to the coffee robot along with the cash-register robot from the same cafe. QT decides to rescue her himself, although once on the island he discovers something sinister brewing amidst all the broken robots – revolution.
I absolutely adored this episode. Now that the first series is over, I can safely say that this was my favourite out of all of them, with episode 5 at a close second. I love stories about robots with human emotions, despite their tendency to make me very sad, and this episode certainly did make me sad. But it was also adorable and a really nice if not bittersweet (like coffee, geddit?) way to end the first series of what I believe has been a great show, even though its central character took a back-seat.
I can’t exactly call the plot of this episode original, and it’s true the whole thing kind of played out like Wall-E crossed with a Futurama episode. Even QT’s older, clunkier appearance contrasted against the sleek lines of Coffee-Maker is so similar to Wall-E and Eve that it could be deliberate, like so many other homages in this show. But it worked, and it worked really well, and also featured some really great character designs for just about all the robots shown. There are lots of beautiful scenes that do great things with mood and lighting but especially music – Space Dandy just really has great music. It has the kind of sound-track that makes me want to buy the recently released OST, and the main insert-song for this episode was particularly Daft Punk-esque. Basically, there’s a lot to like about this episode.
Of course, it has the standard Space Dandy non-ending, but in what’s a really rare case I think this worked as well. We don’t know what happened to Coffee-Maker and CashRegister, we don’t know if QT is really okay or is trying to kill his internal wiring with coffee, and we don’t know if a bunch of people actually died in that super flashy, absurdly brilliant giant mecha battle climax. But that’s life, and that’s love, and that’s also robots. I think I prefer this ending to if it actually did have a clear resolution.
Out of 5,
Space Dandy was a real wild card for me, something that’s really hard to categorize clearly. It’s sometimes a goofy fanservice comedy, it’s sometimes a psychedelic retro homage to old scifi, it’s sometimes a touching and poignant reflection and it’s sometimes just bizarre. I said before that its like a fusion of Futurama, Panty and Stocking and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it’s kept that up for its entire run. My main worry about the series starting out was how hit and miss its episodic episodes were going to be, but I can now say it had far more hits than misses and that even in the episodes I didn’t like that much there were still some great things going on at some point.
The show really succeeded in its visuals and sound particularly, although I can understand people’s complaints about its writing. A great deal of the episodes simply don’t actually have any real ending, to the extent that it basically became a running gag. There is still zero explanation for who the Gogol Empire are and why they are chasing after Dandy, although the second season will hopefully shed some light. Also, while the visuals are mostly great there’s a definite and noticeable droop around the halfway point that thankfully manages to right itself, and there’s definitely episodes that look worse than others.
It’s not a show for everyone – some have been offended by the at time shameless fanservice and general absurdity of its episodes’ plots, but I personally enjoyed it a lot. Although it was the non-comedy episodes such as episode 5, 8 and 13 that left the biggest impact on me. It’s rare when a series can be so stupid one minute and so touching the next, let alone actually pull it off successfully. For those episodes alone I could give the series quite a high score but I enjoyed most of the ‘dumb humour’ ones as well.
I really hope that Space Dandy is as successful as Watanabe wanted it to be. True, it’s only the first anime season of 2014 but I’m already putting it as a contender for ‘Best new show of 2014’. I’m very excited to see what else ends up in this running.
Out of 5,