Anime Review: Space Dandy

While I have been really busy, I have been catching up watching Space Dandy. I watched the first part of season 1 earlier this summer and when the second part came out, I had to check it out. Plus, Space Dandy is just good fun to watch before heading off to bed.

First off, I want to talk about some of the expectations of Space Dandy. When the series was announced I had lofty expectations for it. Being a Shinichiro Watanabe title (Cowboy Bebop,  Samurai Champloo, Terror in Resonance and more) it was hard to not expect great things. Personally, I expected a humorous version of Cowboy Bebop with over the top animation.

However, the more I heard about the series, the more I realized it wasn’t that. I wasn’t the only one that had those expectations. I recall listening to an episode of the ANNCast where they covered Space Dandy, and they talked about fans having the same lofty expectations. Maybe it was part of this podcast that my mind was changed without knowing it.

From a story perspective, Space Dandy doesn’t really tell a specific story. All of the episodes are practically stand alone episodes without you having to have previous knowledge outside of the first episode when the characters are introduced. There isn’t much of an over-arching story. I kept thinking there would be something like Cowboy Bebop, where one of the episodes would leave us a nugget for future episodes and maybe a handful of them string together to tell a story with lots of fun filler in between. That isn’t the case. Space Dandy the alien hunter and crew don’t have a long form story to tell, and that isn’t a bad thing unless you expect it.

While Space Dandy may have a lot of standalone episodes, it works out. I was originally a little hesitant after the first part of season 1. I love stories and character development. In Space Dandy the characters are pretty straight forward and not much room for them to evolve over time.

Having said that, Space Dandy is good fun. There may not be a developed story, but the comedy infused into the series makes up for that. Before I started the second half of season one, I rewatched the first half while working and the comedy and stand alone episodes made it for an enjoyable casual watch.

The animation is Space Dandy has a lot of fun experimentation in it. Some episodes you can tell they had more room to explore than others but it works. Space Dandy has a variety of tones and animation styles and techniques to reflect it.

I would suggest checking out Space Dandy at least once since it is a Watanabe title and also for the animation of it. If you saw Space Dandy, what were your thoughts?

Recent Viewing: Kids on the Slope

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpJSOUCSWGI&w=560&h=315]

I recently finished up Kids on the Slope from Sentai Filmworks and directed by Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy), spanning 13 episodes. The story revolves around the main character, Kaoru, who moves to a new school and becomes friends with the class tough guy, Sentaro. The two of them find a common bond in music and start playing jazz together.

Sentaro’s childhood friend, Ritsuko, hangs out  with the boys as well. The three characters have their moments of friendship, heartbreak and misunderstandings. Surrounding these Kaoru, Sentaro and Ritsuko is an enjoyable cast of characters and family.

The story of Kids on the Slope is a solid mix of relationships, music and family. The story doesn’t feel repetitive, recycled or formulaic as some anime in this genre does, this may be due to the musical element which adds an additional layer to the story or a great blend of side characters to come in and provide depth to the 3 main characters.

Admittedly, the reason I picked up this title was mostly the name attached, Shinichiro Watanabe. All of this works to this point have been some of the best series I have watched.  The second reason, I heard the animation of the series was great and it delivered. If you didn’t check out the tailer I posted above, go check it out and look at the animation, especially when the characters are playing their musical instruments, Sentaro’s hands look great.

Kids on the Slope is one of the better anime titles I have watched recently, that has a strong story and great art style.

Production Update 11 SGMS and Inspiration

Its that time of the week that production updates are to be discussed. The week has been a little bit of a whirlwind. I started the week being able to complete a couple drawings for the final scene. I also spent some time rehearsing and tweaking my presentation at the 2012 Schoolgirls and Mobilesuits (SGMS) conference. Outside of the conference I had some travel time in and also some freelance work to complete. So to be blunt and honest, I didn’t get a whole lot done in terms of production. Having said that, I did have a great time at SGMS, met a lot of very cool people, saw some new anime and finally I met Dai Sato and was able to ask him some questions that I had had and had developed over the conference ( I even got my picture taken with him 🙂 ).

So today’s production post is going to be hijacked with a short recap of the SGMS conference. For those of you that don’t know what SGMS is, it is a conference where presenters are allowed to present topics from animation, culture and manga from Japan.

I tend to try to present ideas and findings from an artistic standpoint. This year I shared my findings of not only the history of CGI in Japanese animation but also the use and techniques. The presentation went well and it meshed well with the other presenters in the panel. The presentation was inspired by my desire to combine 3D with 2D for the Cosmic Rage motion comic. Did you know CGI was shown in Japanese animation back in 1983? Now you know 😉

This year, just to name a few, I went to a panel that talked about pre and post 9-11 terrorism as reflected in the Gundam Franchise,  Rock Music as a Cultural motif in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (Which made me want to read the series), Vocaloid music and Hatsune Miku, and also a presentation on the politics of dismemberment in manga or more specifically Blade of the Immortal (another want to read now). Those are just a few of the ones I attended.

We also had anime screenings where we viewed some of the episodes that Dai Sato had written for such as Cowboy Bebop, Lupin the 3rd, Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy and Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Just think, that’s not including titles such as Wolf’s Rain or Eureka Seven. The second night we also viewed a J-drama and an animated feature called Brave Story.

There was also a fashion show on Saturday night as well. I attended my first one last year and it was amazing and made me wonder why my sister never took me to one before that. It really is a great way to see alternative fashion, but more importantly it inspires clothing design for characters and worlds that you may be creating. I have went to several fashion websites and clothing encyclopedias for several of the character’s clothing designs in Cosmic Rage.

The weekend closed with an amazing group panel which people asked questions regarding various aspects of culture, animation and manga. Topics included pitching ideas, cross studio collaboration, of course Japanese animation, kick starter projects, small collaborative projects and so much more.

This was my 3rd consecutive year attending SGMS and every year I continue to meet amazing new people, learn new things, gain more things to add to the “must watch/read list” but most importantly it inspires me to keep working on this project. The thought of quitting it has never crossed my mind. I enjoy working every second on this project and I can’t wait till I am able to complete a couple more things so I have things to take around and further reach audiences and grow the fan base. And who knows, maybe more artists will join in on the project as it grows and develops. Stay Tuned for another Japan Adventure Update later this week!