The Series (4/5)
Shinichiro Watanabe had a lot to live up to with Space Dandy. His prior 2 anime series the seminal sci-fi actioner Cowboy Bebop, and it's hip-hop samurai follow up Samurai Champloo are considered anime classics by most, if not all, fans of the form. Space Dandy is Watanabe's return to sci-fi anime after Cowboy Bebop practically reinvigorated the genre. Rather, then try to live up to his prior work, it appears that he choose to go in a different direction using a similar setup to Bebop (in this case we have a trio of space dwellers hunting down undiscovered lifeforms, rather then criminals).
Cowboy Bebop was a rather serious show with great action. The humor present in Bebop was an added element to the show, and not the full focus. Space Dandy on the other hand uses the Sci-Fi setting as a template for comedy, and just straight animated weirdness. In many ways Space Dandy made itself out to be the animated counterpart to the iconic BBC comedy/sci-fi series Red Dwarf, where an on going plot and continuity weren't the main focus, and the Sci-Fi was a springboard to a sitcom template.
That being said, Space Dandy is as far from as a show by template as it goes. There is no continuity between episodes. The entire cast dies in an early episode, and comes back unscathed in the next. In many ways it reminded me of Excel Saga with each episode working out different genre types, and using them as the backdrop for Watanabe's weird and colorful vision.
The show's premise is simple. Dandy is a man flying through space with his droid/partner QT. Early on they meet the feline-esque alien Meow, whose real name they cannot pronounce. The trio traverse space in order to locate new species to take back, and collect a reward on for proving their existence. This usually ends in failure, but prints the trio into a series of increasingly bizarre situations.
Space Dandy comes to Blu-ray from Funimation in a 1:78:1 AVC encoded 1080p transfer preserving the series OAR. The Blu-ray looks pretty damn near perfect, there is excellent fine detail throughout, deep blacks, and colors simply pop.
There are 2 audio options for Space Dandy on Blu, an English dub track in 5.1 Dolby True HD, and a 2.0 True HD track in Japanese. I did check out the dub for a bit, but my preference (outside of mid to late 20th century Italian cinema) is to watch a film with it's original language and subtitled. The dialogue on both tracks come through nicely, as does score and effects. There is actually a very nice separation of sound on the 5.1 track that isn't present on the Japaneese track, and for that alone it comes recommended.
Episodes 1 and 10 of the series come with a commentary track by members of the voice over cast. Outside of that we get on disc 2 a 35 minute interview with Funimation, loads of trailers, and promotional videos for the series, and a clean opening, and closing.
Shinichiro Watanabe's return to sci-fi was a fun and wild ride. The Blu-ray looks and sounds fantastic, and there are some light extra features sure to please fans of the series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.