Space Dandy Episode 1: The Shinichirou Watanabe Effect

Presenting: The Dandiest Man in the Space

Presenting: The Dandiest Man in Space

I fail to comprehend the difference in treatment that Space Dandy enjoys compared to other anime this season. It’s times like these that I feel that the community is more interested in praising a well-renowned anime personality for his mere existence rather than the output he presents.

Pictured: A perfectly accurate depiction of American culture

Pictured: A perfectly accurate depiction of American culture

Space Dandy is not original, and I don’t think it tries to be. It’s obviously aimed at a more “western” taste, and the art style and type of humor reflects this choice, however misinformed it may be. None of the jokes here were anything special, or even remotely funny, as I’ve heard every single one of them before – self-referential humor, dirty jokes, fake character deaths, boke/tsukkomi routines, everything. Hell, even the visual gags are nothing new.

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I see how this anime might appeal to its target audience, and I have no complaints about what it’s trying to achieve. I just find it hard to swallow that this show gets “a mixed reaction” from the community while the very, very similar Seitokai Yakuindomo gets nothing but flak, to the point of writers being incredibly anal about it. Both shows rely on mostly the same type of comedy and mostly the same type of delivery: tasteless and shallow. Apparently, being directed by the same guy who did Cowboy Bebop automatically makes an anime better than everything else created by the hands of Man, and being a 4-koma adaptation automatically means it’s the scourge of humanity. Good job.

SD5Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the first episode for what it is, with the animation as my main source of enjoyment. But when comparing this with any other anime this season has to offer, Space Dandy stands out only in terms of animation, and even then, it still loses to KyoAni. As for the other things, it’s simply not living up to the hype. And before anyone asks: No, the stylistic choices are nothing special either, and people who obsess over it are idiots who pretend to know art. I’ll keep watching Space Dandy for now, but I don’t think my opinion of it would change anyway, so take this as a premature series review.

Aside: Many people say that the Japanese have crappy taste in anime. This is true. But if Space Dandy (simultaneously broadcast on Adult Swim) is anything to go by, I’d say “western” taste is a lot, lot worse.

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10 thoughts on “Space Dandy Episode 1: The Shinichirou Watanabe Effect

  1. Dandy reminds me of “The Fonz”. That’s why I continue to watch this.

    I know you dislike KLK but I love it, not giving a damn the writers of Gurren Lagann are involved.
    The same goes for Dandy. The premiere episode was decent. What’s the big deal that it’s by the writer of Cowboy Bebop? What people fail to understand is just because one author made a “critically acclaimed masterpiece:, which I’m sure Bebop is, does not mean ALL their later work will equal gold.

    Take Working! and Servant X Service for example. I personally like Working better. Okay that’s a weak example but you get what I’m saying.

    • My primary concern with things like Space Dandy is that given how the show is doing now, we’ll get more shows like it soon enough. If this is an indication of anime being “saved,” I’d rather it not be.

      • The “Anime is dead: meme is most irrelevant and extremely subjective as far as I’m concerned. Pessimism is something I stay far away from.

        Anyway, let it cater to its audience. I’ll stick to stuff l
        like Panty and Stocking, Kill Me Baby or Seitokai Yakuindomo when I’m in the mood for dirty humor.

  2. The notion that anything is “saving” anime is ridiculous except in the context of possibly bringing into the fold some disillusioned Western fans who are, at best, an unreliable customer base for the industry. I actually enjoyed Space Dandy quite a bit, but the notion that it represents a turning point for the industry is one existing in the heads of people who don’t buy enough bluray disks to influence the state of things but still complain about the way they are.

    • Of course, my comment about anime being “saved” by Space Dandy i]was purely sarcastic, as I don’t think anime needs any sort of “saving”. As with western fans, we are seeing some significant moves from them with shows like Kick-Heart, Little Witch Acadamia, and other stuff that the Japanese did not really support themselves. Perhaps it’s too soon to say that westerners won’t ever make a difference to how anime is being made or watched. I’d even go as far as to say that it’s only a matter of time.

      • I didn’t think you were endorsing the saving anime narrative. I brought it up because it’s been used non-ironically by a lot of people, and I can accept that if it’s being said specifically in the context of rekindling some western interest.

        I agree that there’s been some movement on kickstarter recently that’s been interesting to think on, but I also think the real difference between fanbases isn’t the Western/Japanese difference but the will-pay-$300/$60 for 12 episodes difference. There’s a lot of financial ground to cover between funding 40-minute ovas and funding whole TV series, and while I think there are a number of shojo manga with more western popularity that could get funded that way, the actual long-term customer base is smaller than LWA makes it look.

      • I think that’s mostly because the Japanese, especially otaku, are used to seeing these outrageous prices (36000 yen for a blu-ray with 2 episodes) when it comes to hobby material. They also have more understanding of what late-night anime are really for. Westerners usually take cartoons and animation for granted since TV stations pay most of the production expenses, unlike with the Japanese system, where it;s more accurate to say that anime are big glorified commercials for manga, games or disk sales.

        In any case, the western fanbase is taking small steps toward actually supporting the industry, as opposed to how it was before, when piracy seemed to be the only option.

      • You mean 6000 yen per 2 episode volume, right? 36000 is the (approximate) price total for a 12 episode, 6 volume show. It’s also actually not that far off from what hardcore Western fans are willing to pay; over 1/3 of the LWA pledges were at the $100+ level for a 50 minute OVA. The lower-level pledges only accounted for 2697*$50+1674*$20+1135*$1=$169,465, or a little more than a quarter of the total amount.

      • Oh dear, it seems that I got my facts mixed up. I apologize. In any case, a few hardcore western fans pouring out money won’t make the industry thrive in the west, but as I said, the situation is improving, even if it’s only a little at a time, with legal streaming sites like Crunchyroll and The Anime Network entering the scene.

      • It depends what you mean by thriving. Yes, there are more cheap legal avenues of support for the anime industry nowadays, but I would be a little dubious as to how much streaming revenue could actually influence the type of anime that get made. The numbers are somewhat there. 2000-4000 disk average borderline-selling shows are 3 times as likely to get a sequel if they’ve been licensed for R1 release. CR is the biggest streaming platform with a number of paid subscribers over 200,000. At $60 a year, that brings in $12 million ~1.2 billion yen a year, and a typical anime budget is on the order of $2 million, so it’s not that far-fetched just going by order of magnitude that they could partially finance an anime (if they knew they could make it one of the top 2 or 3 of the year in terms of popularity).

        But that same thing also happens in Japan, where manga adaptations are made with the intention of getting large amounts of people to spend small amounts of money via the manga volumes. And most of the things that are extremely popular in the west (stuff like Attack on Titan and Blue Exorcist) are things that get those manga sales anyway. I just don’t think the west having an impact on anime would change the content what actually gets animated as much as people think; the only obvious gap between Western and Japanese fanbases is the explosive popularity of shojo manga in the west.

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