Space Dandy Vol. 1 - Manga Review

From the creators of Cowboy Bebop comes the story of a suave space explorer looking to make a quick buck when he’s not distracted by his favourite restaurant BooBies in the series that inspired the hit anime!

The Lowdown

Meet Space Dandy, a dandy guy in space! Together with his robot friend QT, Dandy explores space on his ship, the Aloha Oe, in search of unregistered alien species to make a quick buck. All of this money goes towards patronizing his favourite restaurant (or rather breastaurant) “BooBies”, forcing Dandy to work harder than ever to pay the bills in a sequence of zany adventures. Catching aliens isn’t easy, and it only gets more dangerous for Dandy after the infamous Dr. Gel is tasked with capturing him!

How Was It?

Space Dandy has a very distinct sense of personality, and how much you take to it is probably going to determine whether this series is for you. Dandy’s personality tends to be the main anchor for most of the gags - he’s a flamboyant and unrepentant womanizer who gets into all sorts of situations in his quest to chase down boobs or earn money to go to BooBies. The humour often comes at Dandy’s expense with fun being poked at the absurd lengths he goes to for his boobies, and he frequently gets his comeuppance in a humbling way. It’s almost as if a more crass manga version of Johnny Bravo was launched into space, and if that doesn’t sound particularly appealing you may not enjoy this series too much.

Although my description above might not appear to be too flattering, I came away form this volume having enjoyed the general silliness and absurdity of it all. The humour wasn’t particularly clever, but I really enjoyed the way Space Dandy uses familiar comedic beats to play up the absurdity of Dandy’s adventures. This is a series that knows exactly what it is, and I thought the earnestness with which it embraced its particular brand of humour was endearing even if watching Dandy fight a giant boob monster in one of the chapters felt like a little bit much. Could I have done without an entire chapter devoted to Dandy tracking down a peeping tom at BooBies only to join in on the action and summarily get smacked around? Probably, but I can’t deny that I definitely had a number of laughs at how enjoyably goofy the entire thing was. Although there are some missteps (such as an alien baby that speaks in a distracting lisp for an entire chapter), Space Dandy delivers on its own strong brand of comedy throughout.

For better or for worse, Dandy’s character defines the story beats this series follows, but thankfully Dandy is a bit of a lovable dope who you can’t help but cheer for in spite of his perviness. The first chapter encapsulates this by following Dandy as he gets roped into helping a princess escape from her pursuers after trying he tries to flirt with her sister. This snowballs into Dandy being chased not only by the princess’ family but also by his hapless adversary Dr. Gel, culminating in a space battle between all involved before Dandy has a change of heart and takes the princess to her beloved instead of selling her. The way that it all escalates into one absurd finale where Dandy escapes by the skin is of his teeth makes for an entertaining read, and the way that a few of the stories end in a heartwarming manner cements Dandy as a likable character. It all becomes fairly routine as the volume proceeds - Dandy gets roped into an adventure either by boobies or needing money to go to BooBies, he gets in way over his head, and Dr. Gel arrives to hilarious effect. Dr. Gel’s fleet ended up being one of my favourite recurring gags in the series because of how silly and hapless his gang is, and I really liked the way that Space Dandy was able to incorporate gags such as this into a number of chapter to build a familiar sense of comedic rhythm.

Space Dandy undoubtedly has strong art work which portrays this series’ action in a clean yet detailed manner. Much of the humour in this volume comes from watching the characters’ expression, and I enjoyed the way that artists Sung-Woo Park and Redice were able to use a wide variety of expressions to convey the reactions to the various outlandish situations encountered. The level of detail the action scenes are drawn with is similarly impressive, and I always felt like I had a good grasp on what was going on in any given scene. Overall, this volume is definitely easy on the eyes and makes for a light and breezy read which complemented the lightly absurd nature of the comedy well.

Final Thoughts

Space Dandy is a crass but enjoyable comedy which does a good job making use of recurring gags that take advantage of the silliness of the proceedings. I enjoyed the strong confidence this series displayed in its particular brand of humour even if it went a little too far at times, but those not inclined to enjoy the type of humour in play here will probably not enjoy this series too much. It’s a mixed-bag at times, but I enjoyedSpace Dandy for what it was and I definitely had more than a few laughs over the course of this volume.


Space Dandy, Vol. 1
By Masafumi Harada, BONES

Space Dandy Vol. 1 was translated by Christine Dashiell and was by Yen Press on June 28th, 2016. Based off of the original anime by Studio Bones, the series is drawn by Sung-Woo Park and Redice and ran in in Square Enix’s Young Gangan magazine. The original anime series aired for two seasons and was licensed by Funmation. The second volume is scheduled for release in English on September 27th, 2016.

Verdict:

B

Date of Publication: June 28th, 2016

Translator: Christine Dashiell

Author: Masafumi Harada + Sung-Woo Park and Redice

Publisher: Yen Press



Matt

Matt is a broke law student by day, broke law student by night, and one of the co-founders of Taykobon in his dwindling spare time. Although his favourite series tend to be shonen adventure series, he also has a soft spot for slice-of-life shojo romances. He enjoys following the manga industry, and is a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays in other nonexistent spare time. 

Favourite series: Bakuman

Favourite author: Io Sakisaka