“Nobody puts Dandy in the corner.”
Part of what makes Space Dandy such a thoroughly entertaining show is that you never know what you’re going to get each week. Whether it’s a racing epic or a zombiepocalypse, the different genre that the show tries to inject into its DNA every week is part of what makes it so enjoyable. So it only seems inevitable that Dandy would set its sights on high school fodder and it’s not surprising that the episode is a pretty silly delight.
When a rare Klipponian alien is rumored to be enrolled at Baverly Hills High in the Andromeda Academy, it doesn’t take long for Dandy to be suggesting that he “transfers” to the school incognito to take care of the dirty work (which in his mind is getting with as many of the high school honeys as possible, as the populous screams things like, “I can’t wait to be one of his girlfriends!”).
Baverly Hills High is parody-drenched institution where roaming sentinel-like security bots deal with space-lollygaggers and everyone has inherent musical ability (and not knowing what a dotted sixteenth note is liable to make you perfect bully bait). Naturally this results in the alumni of the school often breaking out into song to push all of this satire even further, as what they’re putting under the microscope extends from simply high school dramas to also musicals and the increasing number of Glee–type shows.
There are a number of songs throughout this episode that are used to dole out exposition (“And if you’re wondering, the janitor is over there”), and they’re all pretty catchy and fun, believe it or not. The opening number even feels like it’s a deconstruction of these sort of songs in general, as it goes on and on, getting weirder, switching rhythms, and becoming more atonal as more craziness begins to be thrown at you.
While the episode might start off a little soft and feel a little dull around the edges in what it’s attempting to skewer, by the time it’s become clear that the episode is in fact taking on ‘80s films in general, everything settles into a very comfortable place. One of the episode’s better sequences is a ridiculous training montage that Dandy and his date go through to properly prepare to be Prom King and Queen, as Rocky and sports films can also be marked off their checklist.
Right from the start this episode isn’t trying to hide that it’s primarily interested in being silly, as Dandy tells his new classmates that “My hobbies are going to the movies and generally being awesome” and he shouts out lines from The Twilight Zone’s “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” to distract during a test. Ridiculous laws are in place like when the three bullies fuse into one Hulk-esque mega bully only to be immediately stopped by the security bot. There’s no attempt at hiding that Dandy is purely interested in the Prom King and Queen competition because it can get him a crown to wear, and it’s pretty obvious from the start of the obvious that the weirdo, outcast girl is the Klipponian that they’re after.
This doesn’t even come across as sloppy though as the whole point of this adventure is quickly forgotten as Dandy and crew vie for Prom King and Queen and their true mission becomes a distant plot point. There are even superfluous appearances by Meow and QT in full janitor regalia as they also “break into” the school for no other reason than it being silly.
It’s pretty hard not to be on board with all of this (even the ridiculous songs get stuck in Dr. Gel’s head), and as the battle for Prom King and Queen ultimately comes down to Dandy participating in a sing off where he passionately croons lines like, “Booty’s the sweetest candy,” it’s tough to look at this as a losing episode. It might have been interesting to explore some deeper dynamic like how Baverly Hills High’s constant singing was actually a form of hypnosis or mind control that kept the population under their power, forever keeping them from graduating or having freedom. But with this show so often indulging in physics-play and time travel wackiness, it’s a welcome change to just matriculate in the silly, lie back, and join the chorus of, “All is all. Everything is everything. Viva viva viva viva all!”