Happy new year to you.
2014 is upon us, and brings an interesting line-up of shows for the Japanese Winter. Two of these are Space☆Dandy and Tonari no Seki-kun. But let’s start with Space☆Dandy.
You’ve probably heard about this one, possibly because a dubbed version is being screened on Toonami alongside the Japanese airing. It’s not a bad pick for a Western audience too, because it’s very accessible and carries a similar vibe to something you might find on Adult Swim.
In particular, Space☆Dandy reminded me of Futurama almost straight away. And not just because it’s set in space. Sure that’s a start, but both shows use their setting to show a slightly creepy and very much imperfect portrayal of the future. For a start, the universe is still rife with crime and corruption – Dandy himself is a bounty hunter by trade, and the crew of Futurama often had run-ins with the robot mafia or similarly shady groups. Aliens and robots are also thrown into the mix, and the settings in both shows are distinctly sexualized. Take for example Futurama’s robotic prostitutes, and Space☆Dandy’s chain of “breastraunts”.
The humor is also kind of similar in both shows – although Space☆Dandy is rife with hyperbole and seems to have a lot more focus on action. Space☆Dandy still has a similar style of tongue-in-cheek gags though, and these were fairly well executed in the debut episode. It should be noted that these connections are based on just a single episode, so there’s still plenty of time for Space☆Dandy to evolve and take on its own direction.
The animation is fluid and some of the alien designs are gloriously wacky, so be sure to check this out, particularly if you’re a fan of Western animation as well as anime.
Tonari no Seki-kun
This is a little 10-minute show following the antics of Seki-kun, who prefers to spend his school time distracting his neighbour Yokoi rather than paying attention to lessons. The debut episode was pretty funny, but I’m not sure if this show will stay fresh as it continues seeing as there’s only one joke. I guess it will come down to how creative Seki-kun can get.
Episode one was good but far from outstanding, I feel like it might have worked better in just a 5 or 6 minute format due to the formulaic nature of the gags. Seki-kun is a great character though, and his elaborate domino course was pretty neat. He’s incredibly focused and good at what he does… Which is annoying the hell out of Yokoi while effortlessly evading blame when she gets in trouble rather than him.
I’ll give this show another watch next week but with admittedly low expectations… But then again, how often do you see CG dominos on-screen? Maybe Tonari no Seki-kun has a few more surprises up its sleeve… We’ll see where this goes.
Stay tuned for more Winter anime 2014 write-ups! And feel free to share your thoughts on these shows in the comments section.