In its first half, the fourth episode of Space Dandy utilizes an interesting sci-fi conceit. In a universe filled with countless alien species, it’s impossible to tell the difference between a completely new species, and a variant of a discovered one. Machines shouldn’t be able to turn into zombies, but in a universe where anything can happen and many things are inexplainable, it’s hardly surprising when QT becomes one.
However, the episode’s real genius becomes evident only in the second-half twist when, after the Dandy crew are infected, it borrows pages from not only George Romero’s playbook (with a nod to him at the end), but even from the ending of Shaun of the Dead. Dandy’s declaration that “being dead is no different from being alive” says it all really. After a cycle of craving raw meat, watching movies, and being horribly depressed, the crew’s zombie senpai tells them that eating yogurt will make them feel healthier and more energetic. It works, of course.
In a big Romero reference, zombies are somehow drawn to malls. Dandy uses an insurance policy he’d taken on himself to get paid for his own death, after nagging at the insurance company over an ordeal of time. The zombie talk-show scene from Shaun of the Dead is almost exactly recreated, only using the identity-hiding wall that is a trademark of Japanese talk-show parodies. By the end of the episode, the entire world has been zombified, and all that happens is that the Space Dandy universe more than ever resembles the world that we currently live in.
It’s worth noting that just as Space Dandy and his crew are frequently killed and reborn in every episode, the Gogol commander chasing him faces a similar cycle. Nothing ever changes.