Pop culture references, funky aliens, a Hawaiian shirt wearing spacecraft, BooBies, and a heart shaped booty are all part of the freshly combed pompadour that is Space Dandy, an episodic anime space opera with heartwarming moments and an existential rabbit hole of wonder. At first glance, Space Dandy could seem like just a story about a guy and his crew roaming space for their next adventure, but it's so much more than that.
Space Dandy follows a character going by the name of, well... Dandy. He’s a laid-back, pompadour-wearing guy who makes a living tracking down rare aliens. He’s joined by an outdated sentient vacuum named QT and a feline-like alien named Meow. Dandy and his crew are the trio you didn’t know you needed until you’ve finished an episode and find yourself wondering if the room became a little dusty all of a sudden.
The first episode features Dandy pontificating about how the booty is the true treasure that's overshadowed by the great bounty that are breasts. It's a real Johnny Bravo-like conversation, which makes sense given the two rock the same hairstyle. But Dandy isn’t just a space version of that famous Cartoon Network character. Dandy’s adventures frequently go left, but when they do the end result is usually something unexpected and beautiful.
Often, this is done through the stories of other characters they encounter along the way. In one episode, Dandy and Meow encounter an alien ramen chef whose cooking contains a secret ingredient: his own tears. After years of being on the run after accidentally killing a loved one, he ended up at a ramen shop on earth where he learned how to cook the best dish he’d ever had. With his tears, he finally found peace in creating food that can be a comfort for others. Along his travels, Dandy meets others dealing with death, loneliness, depression, love, abandonment, and a host of other emotions and situations that reach the far corners of space.
Dandy, Meow, and QT also have a direct effect on those they encounter in their adventures, and these shared moments bringing out the true character of the Aloha Oe crew. Dandy’s selflessness is put on display when he finds a rare alien, a Gentooan, who would be worth a lot of money for their registration. The Gentooan is actually a little girl who is orphaned after her mother passes away. She’s searching for her grandfather when Dandy finds her. At first, Dandy wants to take her to the registration outpost so he can get paid, but as the two travel, Dandy develops a soft spot for her and ultimately ends up reuniting the young girl with her grandfather. He passes up on a huge payday to do the right thing, which is really not that surprising because he is... well, a dandy kind of guy. While his adventures usually start with the need to make some cash, they usually end up with Dandy helping others in the process.
Dandy isn’t the only one who gets a chance to have moments like this. Meow learns to appreciate the home he left in search of adventure when he is forced to relive the same day over and over while he, Dandy, QT are stuck in a time loop on his home planet. It’s not until Meow takes interest in what his dad does every day at his workshop that Dandy and crew are finally able to escape the time loop. Meow leaves knowing his dad is OK with him living his life the way he has chosen, giving the feline some closure. It's a relatable story for many — who hasn’t left their hometown in search of a better life, but dealt with some form of remorse as a result? In one QT-heavy episode, QT falls in love with a coffee maker and discovers that love can be so strong of an emotion that it will make a robot go against its programming by drinking a cup of coffee.
From love to figuring out the secret to warping, Space Dandy is full of stories to find relatable moments in that will warm your heart. You might come for the pompadour and the space adventures, but you leave with a greater appreciation for intriguing storytelling.
Dandy is more than space's Johnny Bravo; he's your guide to the vastness that is space and life in such an unpredictable universe.