Here is another thing that also really bugged me about anime of the past few seasons: the ones that have a very promising first episode only to just fail trying afterwards. I mean, I hate it, but I have to swallow my words about Nobunaga the Fool after watching its second and third episodes, due to how shoddy it suddenly got. Especially Jeanne D'Arc: she turned out to be completely useless. The way this series looks at women being just there as a second thought is much worse than Space Dandy and Kill la Kill.
Even though these series are bad at how they focus too much on their male audience, there is method to their madness. Kill la Kill is all about outfits being empowering, while Space Dandy is told from the perspective of a guy obsessed with boobs. They keep to their rules, while Nobunaga the Fool took a famous French figure and made her just stand by and watch, sometimes just randomly in the main character's lap.
That doesn't excuse Space Dandy. I know it's silly and Cowboy Bebop also had its share of fanservice, but there is such a thing as taking things too far.
The thing however is, that apart from that, Space Dandy is the series I've been waiting for for years to come. Finally after years and years of waiting, another series of its kind has arrived: the kind of series that each episode shows a totally different story involving the main characters. I love these shows, even though they're often labelled as being monster of the week, or having too much filler.
And granted, this is the kind of format that can be done badly. However it brings so many advantages and when done right it can work brilliantly. Some of reasons why I like it:
- Series that have this can be planned much better into their timeslot because every episode needs to be different. Therefore forcing the writing team to be on their toes.
- Fleshing out characters. Random stories like this are excellent at showing the different sides of the characters, plus the different sides about the setting this takese place in. Great for immersion!
- Variety. Series with a linear storytelling are often very predictable as well, and allow for very little chances to spice things up and make things interesting, because of the ongoing storyline.
- There is no chance to drag on. The creators need to create a new storyline every episode so there are no dead episodes, plus none of the episodes look like each other.
- Episodes are also much more standalone because of this. Because of this the individual episodes can take more risks. There is more chance for creativity and interesting storylines. A show can go on a tangent for one episode and then go into a completely different direction the next.
This is the strength of anime. something it got really good at at one point, but the format unfortunately got in discredit due to the bad reputation that the bad attempts got. There was a point at which I saw many people complain about "filler", to a point where every episode that wasn't instantly contributing to the plot as instantly bad. I think that Naruto was a big contributor to that with its 100 episodes of filler. Plus, it's kindof difficult to objectively describe the difference between filler and plain wasting time, and just a good adventure. And this border is probably also different for everyone.
For me, what's most important is that there must not be "dead episodes". Episodes that just aren't fun to watch or were clearly made to just pad out time, without any inspiration. On top of that, the different episodes also need to bring colour to the characters and show a good collection fo the different sides of the setting. It's something that you can't simply describe in a tagline, which is what makes this such a tricky thing to judge, and probably lead to the lumping of all good and bad shows together on one heap.
I mean I'm not saying that every series needs to be like this, but a few can't hurt, right? With so many linear stories around today that are all rather monotone and more often than not don't even end, it wouldn't hurt to have just a few series in which every episode is about a different story, right? Just like how things were in the past? I really hope that Space Dandy will inspire a new wave of series that also will embrace this philosophy again, and the upcoming Mushishi will also help really well to achieve that cause.
When you compare this to Cowboy Bebop this obviously is much sillier, but the thing is that Cowboy Bebop only started to really shine when you look at the big picture. Plus, I'm not going to compare the two too much, because Space Dandy being silly has a very different atmosphere, even though some of its design philosophies are the same. And that's what I find so good about this series: three episodes in and the creators still are making this look really interesting. Plus, the direction is also quite good, if unconventional.
I especially liked episode 2, the search for those fabled noodles. It was a very emotional episode, for some reason. It had that weird to describe sensation that made everything just come together when they finally ended up finding those noodle bar, and that one creature started telling his life story. The way in which this show changes its atmosphere: it's also really good. And the music! That also is godly!
The question now is whether the stories will be varied enough. Episode three also was very good, but like the first episode the creators did strand on a hostile planet and got chased by monsters again. However, at the same time it also very nicely subverted parts of the previous episode (the monsters were mostly good-natured save for one, they actually got money this time), which is also very good.
The reason why Cowboy Bebop was so critically acclaimed is that on top of being really well made, it had international appeal. It didn't feel like an anime, and it was and is very different to most anime nowadays which are often circlejerking each other for the same audience that they know will buy. It had international appeal. Shingeki no Kyojin is a recent series that also had a lot of international appeal that it deserved, I believe. Space Dandy really hopes to be the next one to catch an international audience, especially with the way it's released simultaneously in English and Japanese.
I think the weird fanservice is because of that reason. It's on one hand the believe that sex sells so it needs to be in everything, and on the other an attempt to not fall in the standard Japanese fanservice cliches that will only appeal to Japanese otaku and not the other demographic.
Also, does every episode have a different OP and ED? That's what I call respect. Really awesome detail.