“Another couple chasing each other down the beach. How romantic.”
Space Dandy is a show that is constantly preoccupied with the question of love. Dandy is always trying to talk up the alien lady du jour that he encounters, and the fact that Boobies itself is a fixture of this show rather than just a passing reference is indicative of the presence of love (yes, Dandy has love for Boobies) on it. So it only makes sense that eventually the show would try on the romantic love story hat and go for broke with it.
Our favorite alien identification agent, Scarlett, finds herself being stalked by a crazy mecha, and if that guy seems to look a little familiar to you, it just happens to be designed by Kunio Okawara, Gundam’s resident mecha designer, in just another piece of what makes Space Dandy so awesome. This guy is constantly showing up and glaring ominously so it’s probably a good idea that Scarlett enlists Dandy to pretend to be her boyfriend so crazy mecha ex backs off. Scarlett is also paying Dandy for his services here too, and so if you want to think of this episode as the one where Dandy becomes a prostitute, by all means.
The bulk of this episode is set upon Planet Trendy, a dating hotspot, romantic wonderland, and a lot of other embarrassing things that the narrator tries to choke out in one of the funnier bits of the episode. It’s nice to see Dandy in a winter wonderland this week, even if it’s briefly, and they do much with making the planet look special and different from the places Dandy has been before.
We were warned last week that we’d be getting a sentimental love story this time, and that is pretty much what we get here. The episode is rife with cliché scenes set under the moonlight as romantic walks are had. They spend time on the beach together. Dandy helps Scarlett get rid of a spider (and burns the house down accordingly to do it) one day, and explosions backlight a picturesque image of them kissing, the next. All of those all-too-familiar romantic tropes are perfectly explored here, just like any of the other genre-skewering parodies that the show has taken in the past.
There’s a lot of time spent on shots of people running to their loved one, walking in contemplation (the episode even ends on a mash-up of this absurdity that really fizzles into nothing), or montages set to innocuous images of a relationship that would maybe seem like too much or pushing this idea too far, but you can see what they’re trying to emulate. Even if it might feel like a waste of time and a way to effectively bloat out an episode with an already thin story, there’s beauty in images like “Dandy” being written in the condensation of a bar table next to an abandoned drink.
All of this is subverted with intelligent precision. As Dandy and Scarlett go on their dates, Dandy can’t help but do things like steal a child’s toboggan, or continue to get preoccupied with catching and tagging rare aliens (including a snowman, giant squid, and even Santa Claus). There’s pitch perfect smarmy background music coursing through it all to sell it even more, too. The same can be said for how Dandy and Scarlett actually begin to fall for each other as they go about this charade. Dandy even becomes such a wreck over her that he can’t even muster up the energy to go to Boobies!
When we finally meet the stalker inside of the mecha, it’s deeply enjoyable that it’s just a straight up insane character, named Dolph. We get a lot of fascinating revolving characters of the week with this show, so when we get someone who has actually lost it, in a world that’s already so crazy, there’s a lot of exciting potential. It’s better that the show doesn’t try and dig too deep into him. For all we know he’s been obsessively following and eye-twinkling at Scarlett since the first episode, and that works just as well as anything.
If nothing else, it’s nice that this episode puts Scarlett in the spotlight for a minute rather than playing with the same people we do every week. It’s certainly not the series’ strongest or weirdest installment, but it’s a very pleasant detour in what has been a particularly ambitious season.