Shinichiro Watanabe has brought us two incredible anime series during his time as a director: Samurai Champloo, and of course the incomparable Cowboy Bebop. In 2014 his latest series, Space Dandy, will debut in Japan. Judging from the trailer, the show looks somewhat reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop though with a lighter space opera feel. The trailer also kicks off with jazzy, horn-based music, again reminiscent of Bebop, and if his previous two series tell us anything, it’s that Watanabe goes to great length to integrate music into his narratives.
In something of a departure from Champloo and Bebop, Space Dandy is supposed to be primarily a comedy. Champloo and Bebop both had comedic elements and episodes. The Bebop episode “Toys In The Attic”, where the crew is poisoned by a leftover lobster that’s gone bad sitting in a forgotten fridge on the ship and has turned into a living monster, is particularly famous from its randomness and quirkiness. However, both of these series, in the end were not comedies. Samurai Champloo is a commentary on the Western influence of Japan, which can be seen both in the storyline that features the persecution of a growing Christian movement, and the prominent use of rap music in the soundtrack. Cowboy Bebop follows a group of individuals who are defined by the traumas of their pasts, and ultimately cannot get beyond them.
Cowboy Bebop is probably my favorite series of all time (though Firefly is very close), and Samurai Champloo is quite good as well. I am curious to see how Space Dandy stands next to these two series. As a comedy, I doubt it will carry the same sort of weight that these series did, but it’s possible I’m wrong. Watanabe might also want to go in a different direction from his other works anyway. I don’t know that it’s possible to top Bebop, quite frankly, so why not try something else? Either way, I am excited to see how this latest series plays out.