Space Dandy: Season 1 Collection Limited Edition (Amazon Exclusive) Blu-ray Anime Review

Space Dandy: Season 1 Collection Limited Edition (Amazon Exclusive) Blu-ray Anime Review A different kind of space cowboy.

What They Say:
Rocket into the outer limits with the one and only Dandy! This dreamy space case and his to-die-for pompadour jet across the galaxy in search of aliens no one has ever laid eyes on. Capturing rare species may pay the bills, baby, but Dandy would rather kick back and enjoy the scenery at the nearest Boobies. Joined by his misfit sidekicks – a rundown vacuum cleaner robot called QT and Meow the alien space cat – Dandy boldly goes where no daper don has ever gone before. Hotly pursued by the chimp-faced Dr. Gel, the adventures of Dandy and the gang will make you laugh, then cry, and then laugh till you cry all over again. Buckle up for blast off, baby! You’re cruising with the Dandy now, and he don’t stop till the end of the universe.

The Review:
Audio:
The audio presentation for this release is quite good as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English language mix, which is bumped up to 5.1, and both of which are encoded using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. The series is one that works the forward soundstage well with some fun placement at times with the dialogue and sounds while also hitting up the action oriented moments in a way that uses it in a wider range, which comes across better in the 5.1 mix because of the greater reach. The show is largely like most series when it comes to its dialogue in that it has a kind of full feeling, but there are some good moments where it’s got more depth and is built up with more impact. The non-dialogue aspects work well with the variety of situations that are engaged with and how there’s a lot of different types of creatures, vehicles and effects to work with to ramp it up even more. It’s a very solid track that definitely works well and comes across cleanly and clearly throughout with no problems such as dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Video:
Originally airing in 2014, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. The thirteen episode show is spread across two discs in a surprising ten/three format as usually you don’t get that many on a disc, especially for a new and very active show. Animated by Bones, the show is one that is rich in colors, details and fluidity of animation that is just beautiful and rarely used for a series of this particular nature. The quality of the animation definitely leaps above what we’ve seen before in streaming or broadcast quality and it just looks great here with a rich variety to the colors that are solid and layered, details that are sharp and problem free and a solidity that carries through well and makes for a visually striking presentation. It looks like every bit of the cost of the production has made it into the animation and the transfer captures it just as it should.

Packaging:
The packaging for the limited edition release is a pretty wacky heavy chipboard box that’s full of color and craziness that just pushes its own kind of coherence. The front cover has an almost psychedelic image with Dandy rocking out with his guitar while the “Villains” of the series re behind him. The back cover gives us a look at one of our main girls from Boobies that has its own style and color to it that’s quite appealing. The spine panels are pretty wacky though with them being done in yellow with the logos as well as a spiral design underneath it in grey the keeps me from wanting to look at it too closely. Inside the box we get a spacer box that holds the art cards that come in all the limited edition releases and also provides a spot for the second half when that comes out. The Blu-ray case itself is a slightly thicker than normal type that holds the discs for both formats and works the more familiar cover image with Dandy, Meow and QT alongside him set against the nebula clouds. The back cover uses the yellow with gray spiral design to show off a little more of the main trio together as well as a decent stirp of shots from the show along the bottom. The bulk is text though, which gives me a headache with this background as it details the premise well and breaks down all the extras clearly. The technical grid breaks both formats out in a solid and easy to read way as well. The release also has artwork on the reverse side with the main panel featuring another stylized image of the main trio while the left panel breaks down the show by episodes and titles as well as a section for the extras

In addition to the limited editions available at all retailers, there’s also an Amazon.com exclusive called the Boobies Gift Box Set. That set has the limited edition release inside of an oversized box that’s designed to look like the Aloha Oe ship with the bomber girl on the side and the ship’s name, which is done pretty nicely with the yellow box color design, the line work and the kind of worn down nature of it all while still being quite the slick package. While this release doesn’t have quite the giggle-allure of the FUNimation Shop Boobies exclusive edition, there’s still a lot to like here. The box goes for a blue tone inside with some great line work for the characters that shows a wide array of female characters and aliens from the series. We also get a hat with this release, going with the bomber girl logo along it that, combined with the color tone of the hat, gives it a pretty worn feeling right from the start that’s wholly appropriate. In addition to that, we get a great decal for it, a very appropriate charm necklace from the show and probably the neatest piece with the replica belt buckle that won’t make you feel like Dandy, but you’ll feel pretty dandy around your friends with it on. I love little things like this and this one definitely has some nice heft to it at that.

Space Dandy: Season 1 Collection Limited Edition (Amazon Exclusive) Blu-ray Anime Review

Menu:
The menu design for this release is pretty straightforward and expected as we essentially get the whole screen given over to clips from the show. It has some fun pieces with the characters but also shows off some of the starfield material as well as the ships and the like. The logo is kept along the top while the menu navigation along the bottom is quick and easy with no problems in getting around. One big plus for this release for me is that this includes a marathon play option, which runs for three and a half hours on the first disc and just an hour on the second. This just keeps you moving from situation to situation in a fun way and it also makes it easy to really just settle in and watch a whole lot of it in a row.

Extras:
The release comes with a solid slate of extras that we like to see here that were used to promote it prior to broadcast. That means we get the teasers, promotional videos, broadcast commercials, home video commercials and the always welcome clean opening and closing sequences. The release also comes with a couple of episode commentaries by the English language team that will delight fans. The big extra is the Dandy Guy in Space bonus, which clock in at 35 minutes here and lets the English language production team and actors talk about the series, answer questions and just generally have a good time with it, though it is largely the actors them by themselves rather than as an overall group talking about it.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
An original anime series that debuted in January 2014, Space Dandy is a series that has changed how FUNimation does things. With it getting an English language broadcast right alongside the Japanese broadcast, it helped them evolve the idea into their current Broadcast Dub initiative to give dub fans some real exclusives and reasons for investing in streaming memberships. While I had skimmed the show a bit myself at the time of its original broadcast, it wasn’t something I delved into simply because there was a whole lot of hype about it and I could only feel my view of it was going to be colored by all of it. Settling into it now and watching the first half here over the course of a day, skimming both language tracks throughout, I found myself enjoying it a lot more than I expected compared to those early samplings.

The series takes place in Space Year 14, which doesn’t mean anything other than it’s some distant enough future with nothing much to do with Earth for the most part, allowing us to disassociate from anything serious or issues related to colonization and exploration. Where it focuses is on the crew of the Aloha Oe, a ship owned by Space Dandy, a kind of relaxed and fun guy who makes his money to keep the ship running by going about the galaxy looking for unregistered alien species to bring back to the government and register. The rarer the alien, the more money. While he has a run of alien registrations at one point that earn him a couple of woolongs here and there, there are bounties out there that he tries for that are worth a hundred million woolongs. Suffice to say, it’s easy to realize that he’ll never get those registrations because it would alter the characters dynamic in too significant of a way. Dandy is one of those good guys with a light touch, a simple approach and a lot of fansevice that can’t be more than he is. Though there are some really great moments along the way where we see that there’s a depth to him that’s touched upon in a beautiful way.

At the start, Dandy works with his robot, QT, who provides some of the sanity of the series in a way as he’s an out of date robot that does most of the work on the ship and wishes he could update to a point where he could update himself to do more things. He’s the long suffering workhorse of the show but has some great lines along the way and just runs with it in a near deadpan way that really makes him more enjoyable than characters like these are. The quirky aspect of the show for the main cast comes in at the first episode in the form of Meow, a Betelgeuse native who is like a young human sized cat that’s just kind of lazy and interested in eating, but is more than most of his people who never leave home or changes anything about their lives, simply accepting it for what it is. Meow often provides amusing ways in and out of situations and plays observer but also causes enough of the trouble along the way, which of course frustrates Dandy, but also slowly endears him to the man as well.

Space Dandy works the right kind of structure for a show like this in that as it unfolds and plays out, each episode pretty much stands alone but has connective threads between them so that it has its own continuity across them. This means you have an episode where the entire crew ends up dying because of a situation they’re in, or you get another episode where they have to face off a zombie plague only to be infected themselves and have to spend their lives as the undead from there on out. Or, until next week. That means they go to do some very fun stuff with each episode without having to worry about the long term impact of it all. In a lot of ways, this series felt more like something from the 80’s from me in certain regards, where it wasn’t trying to deal with something weight and wanted to go as fun as it could in terms of alien design, visual approach and and just a kind of simple silliness that comes from those old school science fiction comedies. It’s just given more of a blend with the present styling and design aspect but also the sharper writing and performances.

There’s a lot of fun across all the episodes, though a few stand out for me. I really enjoyed the second as the gang went about looking for the phantom ramen and having to try so many different places. I also really enjoyed the Mamitas episode where the crew stumbles upon a world with the most dangerous alien in the galaxy, one that has Dandy’s main pursuer from the Gogol Empire afraid to go anywhere near it. Not that Dr. Gel really gets close during the series or his reasons made clear for it all. My favorite is still the whole zombie episode simply because of the way it plays out as so many aliens get infected and the gang has to figure out how to live as the undead. But I also really enjoyed the story that gave us a Groundhog Day episode with the group landing on Meow’s world and getting caught up in that while repeating some very dull days that move in some great character development for Meow in a way that really surprises what it accomplishes in such a small bit of time.

The show also works a familiar gag throughout a lot of it with the space restaurant that Dandy hangs out a lot in called Boobies. It’s obvious what they’re going for and it has a lot of fun with it without causing it to overstay its welcome, which isn’t easy because the temptation to really run with it is definitely there. With the show not playing with human characters much outside of Dandy when you get down to it, there’s a fun aspect to the restaurant when we get there as it’s kind of like an oasis in a way and you realize just how alien focused the show is in general. And that’s a big positive since they don’t go for the easy continual use of just slightly odd humans, but rather a wide range of different alien species throughout. Boobies is a gimmick that can turn a lot of people off of the show though, and I can completely understand it, but even after watching four and a half hours of the show marathoned, it’s still a very small piece overall, but a welcome piece of silliness.

In Summary:
Comedy is hard when it comes to anime as there are so many different ways to do it and it’s much more subjective in how it’ll actually work for viewers. While I’m glad that this got the big and fun dub for fans, the dub didn’t work much for me and I found myself laughing and enjoying the Japanese version more for its timing and intonation. That made the series more enjoyable for me than what I had seen during some of its broadcast run. Watching it in marathon form, there’s a lot to like here with what it does as each story has a lot to offer with its little twists and turns, touches of nuance and absolutely strikingly beautiful animation. FUNimation has put together a great release here that will definitely please fans that loved the show and want to have it in their collection. I’m definitely glad I’ve now gotten the chance to see it in a way that worked really well for me.

Features:
Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0 Language, English Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Dandy Guy in Space: Part 01, Episode Commentary (1, 10), Textless Opening and Closing, Volume 1 Teaser Trailer, Promotional Videos, Commercials, Blu-ray & DVD Commericals, U.S. Trailer

FUNimation Exclusive Items: Five (5) Limited Edition Art Cards, Boobies Trucker Hat, Boobies Logo Decal, Boobies Pennant, Boobies Stickers (Set of 2), Boobies 2015 Calendar

Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+ (Exclusive; A)
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B

Released By: FUNimation
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
MSRP: $129.98
Running Time: 325 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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