This Week: Space Dandy and Gundam Build Fighters
This is a surprisingly easy week for me, given how the resumption of programming worked out after the production break
In continuing the housekeeping bit from last week, Kill la Kill and Nagi no Asukara will retain their slots. Additionally, I will also be picking up Pupa. All three of these series, oddly enough, air on Thursday.
I considered moving the actual day of the week for these posts, but, I like having Wednesday as a write up day for this little series. Additionally, by having nearly a full week to actually process the episodes before posting about them, and more space by cutting back a bit on the raw number of shows, it should ideally lead to me making better content.
That’s all in theory, anyway.
It is a good thing these episodes come out over the weekend, so I have plenty of time to process them. It is especially helpful when needed to watch an introductory episode twice, which I did with Kill la Kill last season to appropriately check myself and I did again this time around because we have that really dandy English simuldub to tear into.
Based on what I have in front of me right now, I’m left feeling… pretty alright. Which honestly… kind of disappoints me?
In either language, a lot of the humor, especially in the first half of the episode, just did not hit their marks for me. Fourth wall breaking jokes are fun and all, but need to be used either in moderation (Like a few selective opportunities Martian Successor Nadesico makes turning to the audience in the midst of a bigger series joke arsenal) or just cranked out with extreme glee (ie, the Narrator from Sgt. Frog, large swaths of Excel♥Saga). Space Dandy… kind of tried to walk a hazy middle line with all of its jokes, fourth wall or not. As if it wanted to tell jokes, but presented these jokes on some kind of display platter and went “Would these be all right?” It wanted to be edgy and aggressive (like “breastautrant” and Boobies), and yet it seemed afraid and did not what to fully embrace its own potential, in turn falling flat for me by throwing its own timing kind of off. It is the “safe” kind of aggressive, where it everything about it is still completely marketable because was not actually pushing itself all that hard.
It is a really weird taste, because I thought the episode was generally pretty alright!
And yet, I wanted it to be more than alright. I wanted it to sound the space train whistle, give that clarion call for folks to pile on board, and then blast off with extreme eye peeling prejudice. Instead we had some nice bits (the diverse alien designs and movement are really great, for instance!), and a whole lot of putzing around with some softball meta humor jokes. It was nice, wholly consumable, but… I expected to be having more pure unleaded fun with it, I guess.
The incredibly nice thing Space Dandy has going for it would be the innate capability to be a highly episodic action comedy series, and the large amount of varied stories and sequences they allow to be generated while retaining the central character dynamic. Dirty Pair is one of my all time favorite anime franchises, for instance, which is certainly a space action comedy reliant on character dynamics and that makes use of sexual humor at times. Space Dandy, especially once we get more time for the team to actually gel, could have some really swinging adventures in the pipeline. I really look forward to seeing what the future has in store for them, and the various worlds they could visit with such creative creature designs.
A bit of a below the surface thing that has kind of been on my mind for a very long time and this episode really only put on a more butler presented silver platter is Shinichiro Watanabe, while he generally deserves his accolades for directing staff and producing music, can not actually write at the level of his other abilities. Which is fine. He only really primarily wrote one episode of Cowboy Bebop (“Boogie Woogie Feng Shui”) for instance, nobody really ever really thinks about that episode in particular when considering the series as a whole, and it does not sabotage the larger work. It just kind of exists. It also has the advantage of being episode twenty one of that series, where so many other flavors have already been developed and yet early enough where the series could end as it pleased without him getting much in the way.
Space Dandy could very well be a similar position. It just might be having one of those as its first foot forward.
And if it is getting the Watanabe written episode out of the way first, well, then things can likely only go up from here. Which is actually the exciting part.
Gundam Build Fighters (Episode 13)
The Shipping Episode, as if we hadn’t been dancing that jig with anyone earlier.
China, crashing with relatives, has come all the way up to the World Tournament so she can watch Sei every day. Aila and Reiji get to have their series of “harrumph’s” around and about each other in the park and making “It was nothing” remarks about how he quite literally took a swing (from baseball bat) for her. And Mr. Ral has a really, really itchy bum that he just can not help but remark on whenever all these kids are getting a little too flushed in the face.
I would honestly be impressed if we got to the end of this series without there being some kind of full blown date episode. That has to be in the cards somewhere, given how much the production team seems to like bringing these options up.
Our Gunpla matches this week then involve the every remaining contestant to essentially spin a wheel of fate, get a random number associated with an equally random weapon, and then need to fight each other with them. Again, while I understand the entire purpose of this is so that the system can be rigged by the Plavsky Particle System Engineering personnel so as to attempt to arrange the defeat Sei and Reiji, this seems kind of odd to me on a global mega tournament stage. Everything about how this tournament has been structured should be raising all kinds of viewership problems in the home audiences, because between this random weapons stunt and the previous battle royale and Giant Zaku… very little of this has really come down in any way to the craftsmanship or direct tests of skill.
Now, of course, one could say by having the tournament be more random that involves and entirely different skill set, which would be valid, but I also would as such not see the sport reaching such levels of super popularity it seems to want us have to believe. People who wanted the compelling tests of abilities on equal playing fields (which is the case in most major televised sports) would go “this is dumb and completely arbitrary” and turn it off. But it would probably make for a pretty swell series of YouTube viral videos from the event, so I dunno.
In either event: This week we played a Gundam baseball homerun showdown, complete with a little virtual stadium and mobile suits donning baseball hats. And on that level, it was pretty much appropriately amusing for just about as long as that bit needed to last to qualify as a match without the visual joke of it getting ground down too much.
We are rapidly ripping our way through tournament fodder to just the essentials, so we have relatively few contestants actually left. I imagine this means, if we go through the remaining ones methodically, we have enough material for the next season of episodes to be this whole tournament to the end, and there we go. However, we do not know how long this series will actually run, and we still have the whole “Reiji seems to actually be from an entirely different dimension” angle to deal with. They prod at it every now and again as a reminder, then let it sleep for a while. When that gun finally goes off, I’m expecting / hoping for quite a shake up rather than just more tournament battles.
In a few weeks time, maybe we will have multiuniverse adventures with Mr. Ral meeting Ramba Ral. Wouldn’t that be something.
Hangers is a weekly series containing my passing thoughts on currently airing anime productions. Opinions, as always, are subject to change.