Why is the media covering Space Dandy while other anime get ignored?


The New York Times. The Atlantic Monthly. The two last places you’d expect to see critical reviews on a show with “breasturants” as a major plot point.

Space Dandy, airing on Adult Swim, Funimation, and Hulu, has gotten more mainstream Western hype than any other anime (excepting Hayao Miyazaki films) in literal years.

But, have you actually watched the pilot? Space Dandy is entertaining enough, with bombastic dialogue, plenty of fanservice, and explosive fights. But is there anything truly new or exceptional about it?

At least the New York Times gets that it’s trying to be a parody of everything it seems to be at first, but comments that perhaps that gets lost in translation. I agree; I’m not sure that excessive fanservice actually translates as parodying fanservice as a concept.

It’s pretty early on, but I’m not sold on Space Dandy being anything special, not an anime we’ll still be recommending to new fans a decade from now. I wish the New York Times had instead covered Psycho Pass, which stretched the genre’s boundaries of intellectual depth. Or Attack on Titan, whose high-stakes storytelling rivals that of Lost or 24. Or Kids on the Slope, which has a genius musical score and an equally impressive production team.

Seeing those all get passed over for Space Dandy makes me cringe and wonder if my non-anime-watching friends are going to think I’m some kind of breast-obsessed perv.

So why is Space Dandy being covered while other shows get ignored?

  • The cable effect. In the same breath that newspapers tell us more people are “cutting the cord” than ever, they’re still reviewing cable shows over Internet-exclusive ones. There’s still a bias that more people watch a show if it’s on cable, and that a show aired on TV is somehow more legitimate than a direct-to-streaming one.
  • A star-studded production team. Space Dandy may be a light comedy, but its being directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the mastermind behind anime classics Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. And, scrolling through the credits, his probably isn’t the only big name you’ll recognize.
  • It’s really, really weird. What are the parts of Space Dandy that have been most hyped? Its Engrish trailer that called him “a dandy in the space!” Breaking the fourth wall! Dandy’s weird obsession with boobs and butts! Kooky aliens everywhere! Westerners love “Weird Japan” and this is second helpings of the stuff. Like reality TV, it’s just as much something to make fun of as it is something to be entertained by.
  • It pioneered a new release model. My Twitter feed confirms that while Space Dandy may not be the first anime ever created with a US audience in mind or released first in the US before Japan, it is the first to release an English dub before a Japanese sub. More than any other show airing today, Space Dandy was designed first and foremost for an English-speaking audience.

Altogether, it’s its own built-in hype machine with multiple angles for a news article that’s just as crazy and entertaining as the show is. And you can’t blame hit-conscious, overworked reporters for going for something like that.