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Duke Watches: Space☆Dandy

Howdy, folks. Duke here again, with more anime-watching goodness!

 

This time around, the series I’ve chosen to consume is Space Dandy. I’d heard about this one well before it actually came out, as the director of this particular anime is the same gentleman who brought us such delights as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. So even before it got going, it had a lot to live up to, and a lot of hype. And when it ended up coming out, it definitely got some criticism from viewers for not being what they expected. They wanted something more along the lines of the previous shows, with more of an overarching and possibly serious plot. If you want an epic adventure of science fiction with a serious and far-reaching story, then this is NOT the anime for you. If you want to see a dude run around in space and get up to mischief, with absolutely NO effort at continuity or seriousness, then this is something you might be interested in checking out.

 

The first episode came as a bit of a shock to me, as I (like many others) was expecting something more in line with the previous shows. However, once I was able to shed my assumptions and take the show for what it was rather than what it might have been, I found myself having a good time.

 

But be warned, the humour of the series might not be for everybody. If you’re not okay with crude humour and animated boobs EVERYWHERE, then you should probably watch something else. The series spends a lot of time hanging around a “breastaurant” simply called “BooBies” (picture Hooters but with aliens also in skimpy outfits). They meet one of the crew there (a customer, not a busty employee), and the FIRST thing the main character goes into after the opening of the first episode is how boobs aren’t everything, butts are important too. If that’s the sort of humour you can get behind (no pun intended), then you will probably enjoy the show. If that’s not your cup of tea, then ah well. No harm done, just watch something else instead.

 

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There’s more than meets the eye to Dandy’s Spaceship. Or at least, there was in one episode.

 

All right. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s get into the series. The show has three main characters. Dandy, an incompetent alien hunter with a penchant for scantily clad women. QT, an incompetent and outdated robot that (somewhat) functions as Dandy’s sidekick and pilot. And Meow, the incompetent cat-like alien that they meet in episode one who becomes their companion. Sensing a pattern here? That’s right, whereas Cowboy Bebop had a crew of hardened bounty hunters with all sorts of skills, and Samurai Champloo focused on a couple of skilled warriors, the main characters of this show are idiots. Just complete morons. Their job is to find new aliens and bring them in to be registered. Undiscovered alien species are worth a lot of money, if you’re the first one to bring one in and claim the reward.

 

That’s all you really need to get into the show. I can’t really discuss the plot, as each episode is entirely stand-alone. The first episode introduces a new character, Meow, but aside from that every single episode is completely independent of every other episode. So much so that despite the fact that it always says “to be continued” at the end of the show, when the next episode starts all is forgotten. Character died in the last episode? Eh, whatever, don’t sweat the details. Planet blew up? I don’t remember that, might as well just go on with the show. Characters get left behind or infected with horrible viruses? Whoa man, don’t get so bogged down in trivial stuff. Just go to the next episode. So obviously, given that there is NO continuity whatsoever, a higher plot is kind of out of the question. Instead, each episode is an adventure within itself, where the crew goes out and screws something up.

 

They really go all over the place with their episodes. I mean, there’s a zombie episode. I won’t go into any details, because it’s better that way, but it was hilarious. I may be biased because of my unhealthy love for all things zombie, but I stand by it. It’s a well-built world, too. Apparently each different alien species was created by a different artist, so there is a LOT of variety when it comes to the various aliens you’ll run across in the show.
With that said, some of the episodes are better than the others. Episode five, for instance, is in my opinion the high point of the entire series. Dandy learns about life and love, and that maybe money isn’t the most important thing. Plus there’s one PARTICULARLY FANTASTIC montage scene, complete with awesome music. Does it make any difference whatsoever when they get to the next episode, where aliens are waging a war about underpants versus vests? Nope! It’s completely ridiculous, but I enjoyed every minute of it. In fact, there’s only one episode that didn’t do it for me, one involving giant sentient plants. Aside from that, I had a blast with the assorted adventures of Dandy and his crew.

 

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Dandy doesn’t spend any time worrying about what’s going on. He just does things. Awesome things.

What I was expecting most, when I first heard about this series, was an awesome soundtrack. Cowboy Bebop had some amazing jazz to it. Samurai Champloo had some awesome hip hop music. But I found Space Dandy’s style of music a bit harder to define. It’s best to do with examples. Rest assured, however, the music in this show is up to par. It’s what I was most expecting from this series, and I did not walk away disappointed. I’ve been listening to the soundtrack over and over again, and can’t wait for the next season of the show to see what else I’ll get to listen to.

 

Other than that, there’s unfortunately not much to say about this show. There’s only thirteen episodes so far, and with each episode being completely stand-alone, there’s no real plot to discuss. By now, you should have somewhat of an idea whether the show is for you. It’s easy to pick up, since you don’t have to remember any plot. This one is available for stream through Funimation’s website, so it’s free to check out. The second season will be starting this summer, with more crazy adventures in space. There’s no telling what they’re going to screw up next time.

Mr. Justice's Top 10 Animes

There comes a time for a favorites list. Today, I bring you My top 10 favorite anime of all time and a brief explanation after each. Quite a few anime fans will have no idea what I’m talking about. It breaks my heart when I go to conventions as Vash or Charlotte as Faye Valentine and the younger fans have no idea who we are. Hopefully this list will inspire you to sit down and watch a few of the following.

10.) Wolf’s Rain


Probably the least known series on this list, Wolf’s Rain is an incredibly deep series with beautiful animation. Set in the far future, it offers a wide range of characters including wolves, human hybrids and mystical beings. With a mysterious plot that first time watchers won’t know what to believe, it is a must watch series for those who seek an anime with depth and substance. And who the hell doesn’t like wolves? It’s amazing.

9.) Gundam Wing


Essentially the reason why I LOVE Giant Robots, Gundam Wing had such a great story and had a very big influence on me at a very young age. The first time I saw Heavy Arms and Death Scythe I’m pretty sure I had an ulcer. With a ton action and explosions all around along with decent dialogue, this hold the #9 spot. GIANT ROBOTS!

8.) Gungrave


Brandon Heat! Those who know that name know what I’m getting at. Created by Yasuhiro Nightow, creator of Trigun, Gungrave is a very dialogue driven series with plenty of gunslinging fights, relentless turns and a heavy plot. It is a very unforgiving anime complete with violence and betrayal. This is one of those “WTF did I just watch?” situations; a real winner. P.S. Charlotte cried during this.

7.) Outlaw Star


Outlaw Star may be one of the dearest animes to my heart. Gene Starwind and his unique crew are one of the most unforgettable teams in anime history. The series consists of high action sci fi with a ton of comedy and a bit mystery thrown in. Overshadowed by many of the great releases of 1998, Outlaw Star really is a diamond in the rough.

6.) Baccano!


The most recent on this list, Baccano! (yes, the exclamation point is necessary) is a show that immediately caught my attention once I heard it was set during 1930′s America. This series has it all: tons of action, fighting, blood, alchemy, gangsters, and music, including one of the BEST opening theme songs in anime. Don’t let the 15+ main characters and their storylines scare you off. I strongly believe Baccano! to be a very fresh and unique series to add to your collection. This show NEEDS to be watched.

5.) Neon Genesis Evangelion


Neon Genesis. The title rings in infamy in anime fan’s ears. Many would say that this series should be higher in the poll. Be that as it may, this show is one big mind f*ck. Sinji’s, the title character’s, life is literally pillaged and devoured along with the destruction of everything surrounding him. To me, Neon Genesis by far has the best designed robots in anime. I have yet to see anything close to the epic and clean designs the EVA have to offer. If you have not seen this, you must be completely new to anime. There are three different versions: the original series, which aired in the mid 90′s, a two parter called Death and Rebirth that were released alongside the movie End of Evangelion, a retelling of the ending of the original series, and finally the Rebuild of Evanglion, a retelling of the whole series branched out into four movies. Please do yourself a favor and watch this series.

4.) FLCL


Also known as Fooly Cooly, FLCL is one of the most colorful, random and unpredictable animes of all time. You can literally watch this show over and over and it still will not fully make sense. FLCL is a landmark anime that is wild as it is innovative. With the brilliant Japanese band The Pillows representing all of the music in this short series, there is no excuse for anyone overlooking this anime. It truly is a real gem.

3.) Samurai Champloo


Samurai genre infused with hip hop culture and Japanese history? Count me in. Samurai Champloo is nothing short of bad ass. With characters ranging from the masterful and disciplined samurai Jin to the wild and unpredictable foreigner Mugen to their clumsy and innocent traveling companion Fuu, this series has some of the best fight sequences and character chemistry offered in an anime. Not to mention the spectacular music; the theme song, credits, and music throughout gives a modern soundtrack of new age and underground hip hop that flows into one’s ears like magic. Champloo is rich in style and originality and certainly feeds the hunger for a deep series with professional writing and dialog perfection. This is top shelf. The best of the best.

2.) Trigun


There is very little introduction for this series. Trigun is one of the most powerful and moving animes I have had the pleasure of watching. Vash the Stampede is the character that I have embodied to cosplay for so many years. It’s genre consists that of Sci-fi/western/steamppunk and everything in between. Every character in their respected roll is crucial in this amazing series. Not to mention the late but great Badlands Rumble movie which adds many flavors to the franchise. What would be the best anime series of all time, in my opinion, there is still one series that truly takes the cake.

1.) Cowboy Bebop


The series to set the standard, Cowboy Bebop is truly is a cinematic masterpiece. Rich in every aspect, Bebop gets my vote as the greatest anime series ever created. It’s truly perfect. There are so many elements to this anime that make it amazing I could write an article purely on this series by itself. With music being a main theme, the spectacular jazz engulfs this show as the opening lifts you out of your seat with excitement then brings you back down you take in the story with all it has to offer. Every character in Cowboy Bebop is so developed the attachment for them is not comparable. The crew of the Bebop, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black and Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV will forever live in infamy in the anime world. I truly hope for more series for the next generation of anime enthusiasts to shoot for this level of art, style and plot.

So what’s next? Sit down and watch one of them. Most of these are accessible on Netflix, Hulu and Funimation Channel/On Demand. Or, you can just go out and buy a series. Bang.

'Tis the Season; For Cosplay!

Every year, after the summer, I tend to feel like I lose a part of myself. From January to August, thousands of fans gather around the world to meet, bond and just have a good time with their fellow nerds. The choice of dress, obviously cosplay. So. Much. Cosplay.

Stampede!

Wonder Con, Anime Expo, Comic Con, Blizz Con. These are just a few of the many conventions that take place every year. And these are just some main ones in California! Many hobbyist and fans spend the down season (roughly September through January) and even a lot of the main season gathering together materials, crafting, sewing and creating their perfect cosplay. Many rooms are filled with fabrics and props; so much so that it makes even simple tasks like sleeping and eating difficult to do. I am part of this.

What my room will look like. Or as Rarity calls it, "Organized chaos!"

Let’s take the biggest anime convention in North America, Anime Expo, and break it down somewhat for a cosplayer like me. Some costumes have many pieces, some don’t. My Faye Valentine cosplay can fit in a zip-lock bag (minus the boots). One year, that’s all I wore. Simple and easy to travel with. The next year, I wore Amelia from the movie Trigun: Badlands Rumble. Not only did I have to bring the clothing, I had to bring a foam head with a long wig and hat as well as knee-high boots and a long trench coat on a hanger. Did I mention the holster and shot gun replica? Trying to get everything through the hotel is kind of a nightmare. Especially wheeling a giant suitcase.

That was my first year of bringing a more complex cosplay and a wig to a con. Transporting the wig was downright annoying. Anyone who’s worn a wig knows what a bitch it is to transfer those things back and forth. Just imagine the ones who bring at least five of those babies. I had a nice conversation with a young lady last year at Anime Expo who told me she had brought 25 cosplays and 15 wigs that weekend.

I'm sorry, what?

This year, I plan on making four new cosplays throughout the season including, of course, last Septembers poll winner Motoko Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell. Ogeeku members had the privilege of choosing my 2012′s main Anime Expo cosplay. As I spend my extra money and spare time on these new costumes, I hope everyone enjoys what I have to offer this season. I not only do it for myself, but for all of you who love cosplay!

Please look forward to them!

Bye Bye Bandai

It has just been announced that Bandai Entertainment, the company who brought us the Gundam series, Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell and many other treasured series, has decided to stop production in North America. This means all new products in manga and anime set to be released in North America have been cancelled. Bandai still has plans to release existing titles over seas if need be. Rather than distributing the series themselves, they plan to sell the rights to various companies focusing on more of a digital, broadcasting and merchandising aspect. According to Anime News Network the following series have been cancelled in North America:

Anime: DVD/Blu-ray Disc
Gosick
Nichijō
Turn A Gundam

Manga
Code Geass: Renya (Code Geass: Shikkoku no Renya)
Gurren Lagann volume 7
Kannagi volumes 4-6
Lucky Star Boo Boo Kagaboo (spinoff by Eretto)
Mobile Suit Gundam 00I
Tales of the Abyss: Jade’s Secret Memories volumes 1 and 2

You can read an in-depth article on the matter as well as an interview with Ken Iyadomi over at Anime News Network

~*~
The obvious villain here is piracy. I am personally speechless that something like this is happening, yet not entirely shocked. This is blatantly saying no more dubbed anything from Bandai. I have spent my hard earned money on many series (and have encouraged so many others to do so) just to make sure something like this doesn’t happen. They have produced some of my ultimate favorite series; Cowboy Bebop, Escaflowne, Outlaw Star and Ghost in the Shell. We the fans need to take note of this. Piracy effects everyone. Writers, editors and some of your favorite voice actors have now just lost their jobs, in a sense.

One of the big three dub companies is gone here in North America. The other two I consider are Funimation and Viz Media. Some of you might be nerd raging about how dubbing ruins anime anyway and how you may only watch in the original language. Now is absolutely not the time to choose sides on the subject. We are all fans, lets ban together and address this as such. I encourage you to spread the word about this decision and make fans aware of the harm piracy really does.

I’m going to close with an official statement from a legendary voice actor whom I have had the utmost privilege of meeting:

“I’m going to address this once and move on. Sad that I even need to. Piracy does affect the business – in all areas of entertainment. Those of you who so vehemently dispute this fact are obviously breaking federal law and intending to continue this trend with no regard for the damage you cause real people – some who have sacrificed everything to produce the products you steal. I wish you the best of luck building a career based on entitlement. Please allow us to pay our respects to a company that was one of the primary building blocks for the anime industry in America. Thank you, Bandai, for one helluva ride. Bang.”
-Steve Blum, voice talent of Spike Spiegel and many other brilliant roles.


Thank You indeed, Bandai.