Space Dandy Season 2
by Miles Nelson,
Episode 11, “An Other-Dimensional Tale, Baby", is similar to last week's episode in that it focuses on Dandy's love life. While not as emotionally affecting as its predecessor, episode 11 tells an engaging and funny story based upon a classic sci-fi premise: visitors from another dimension! The episode draws inspiration from the 1884 novel “Flatland” by Edwin A. Abbott, in which a square denizen of a 2-Dimensional world journeys to the 3rd dimension and beyond. The book explores the notion of what dimensions actually are, and so does this episode (in signature Space Dandy fashion).
In Flatland, all the inhabitants of the various dimensions were presented as geographic shapes, and so it is with Catherine. As QT puts it, she's a transparent “futuristic box” with a cartoon heart in the middle. The ridiculousness of Dandy having dated a creature so bizarre is not lost on the characters, with Meow and QT voicing the audience's confusion and disbelief. At the same time, Dandy and Catherine's characters are written totally straight: they really do seem like two ex-lovers meeting each other after a long separation. As usual, Junichi Suwabe brings his A-game as Dandy, but what really sells the episode is Miyuki Sawashiro as Catherine. You'd never think a see-through space rectangle could come off as a mature, witty woman of the world, but somehow Sawashiro pulls it off. These top-notch vocal performances and equally excellent direction ensure that Catherine and Dandy's relationship never feels campy; strange and surreal, yes, but the sincerity underneath is essential for this kind of humor to work.
Catherine might be the weirdest thing Dandy's ever been attracted to, but she is not the episode's most striking visual element: that prize goes to her other ex-boyfriend, Prince Paul, and his invading 2-D universe. Represented as a giant, flat sheet floating through space, Paul's universe absorbs all objects that collide with it, transforming them into 2-D versions of themselves. Hilariously, everything in this new dimension has 8-bit-like textures, lending a video-game feel to the proceedings. This is clearly intentional, as the episode is full of visual references to classic arcade games like Galaga and Space Invaders. Overall the episode looks great, with the normal problem of CGI integration with hand-drawn animation being side-stepped by the fact that the 2-D universe is supposed to look totally out of place from everything else.
With entertaining visuals, a cool sci-fi premise and lots of laughs, this is a damn fine half-hour of animation. If you're in the mood for a surreal adventure with a hint of serious romance, then you'll definitely get a kick out of this. You WILL believe a man can love a magical future box.
Space Dandy Season 2 is currently streaming on Funimation.
Miles Nelson has been watching anime since 1997, and writing about it since 2013. You can read some of his articles at My Geek Review.
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