Space Dandy Season 2
by Miles Nelson,
In the midst of an already phenomenal season, episode 10 stands out as one of Space Dandy Season 2's most important and affecting installments thus far. “Lovers Are Trendy, Baby” tells a deeply relevant story about loneliness, the fear of commitment, and the barriers people put up to prevent others from knowing them. The episode explores these themes through Dandy and alien registry employee Scarlet's relationship, and the result is truly captivating. The episode begins with the characters acting as they usually do: Dandy as the incompetent, greedy bounty hunter and Scarlet as the cold, businesslike face of the registry. These are the personas that both characters, consciously or unconsciously, present to the world, and both are shown to alienate them from other people. Both characters have constructed walls around them that conceal much of their true selves. Over the course of the episode, these walls are slowly broken down, as Scarlet and Dandy become more and more intimate. They start to relax around one another, discovering shared interests in the process. They begin to see past the façades they usually present, and glimpse the human beings within.
The impetus for all of this comes when Scarlet starts being stalked by an ex, so she hires Dandy to pretend to be her boyfriend so her former lover will get the message. Why would Scarlet choose Dandy for this, of all people? Episode 6, which also highlighted Scarlet's relationship issues, seemed to indicate that she had a slight attraction for the pompadoured goofball, even if she'd never admit to it. By hiring Dandy, (complete with a contract limiting his physical contact with her) she is acting on those feelings in a "safe" environment where she doesn't have to commit to anything. Dandy initially sees their time together on Planet Trendy as nothing more than a paid vacation, even abandoning her several times to capture nearby rare aliens. Over the course of a week, however, they become less and less informal with each other: Scarlet lets her hair down, and Dandy offers to carry her home when her high-heels break. After a frightening encounter with a mutant spider, (one of the shows most freaky creatures yet,) they discover they are both super fans of Chuck Norris! As they gush about the wonders of Karate Kommandos, a huge hole in the wall between them has opened up.
This surge in intimacy only grows stronger over time, and their previously clumsy and compromised outings start to resemble real dates borne out of genuine affection. Things come to a head when Scarlet's ex Dolph (and his giant robot) comes crashing in for a confrontation. Dolph's obsessive infatuation with Scarlet clues us in on why she has adopted a cold, businesslike manner towards most people; she's been hurt by letting her guard down in the past. “I'm always falling for losers,” she says, implying that Dolph wasn't the first ex to act in such a way. Dandy's response shows that he also has a fear of commitment, and all these conflicting emotions come to a climax in the episodes penultimate scene, an amazing sequence that is both heartbreaking and strangely uplifting. Despite the fierce competition, I consider it the best ending of any episode thus far, and perhaps one of the best endings in anime period.
In the end, “Lovers Are Trendy, Baby” tells a story that is at once deeply personal and universal, a poignant tale of loneliness, love, and heartbreak that anybody who has ever been in a relationship can identify with. In a series already famous for them, it is an episode you can't afford to miss.
Space Dandy Season 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.
Miles Nelson has been an anime fan since 1997, and has had several reviews published at My Geek Review.
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