Anime Review: Cowboy Bebop

*DUNA DUNA DUNA DUNA DUN DUN*

I THINK IT’S TIME WE BLOW THIS SCENE

GET EVERYBODY AND THEIR STUFF TOGETHER

OKAY 3..2..1 LET’S JAM!


WARNING: THIS POST WILL CONTAIN PLOT SPOILERS FOR A 19 YEAR OLD ANIME YOU REALLY SHOULD’VE SEEN ALREADY. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED.


How’s it going everybody? Enjoying this beautiful Tuesday afternoon? Hopefully you’ve got the same sun-shining day I’ve got here, because it is NICE outside! I figured today I’d touch on what is quite possibly my, and many others’, favorite anime of all time.

Today is Cowboy Bebop’s 19th anniversary, and the show holds up amazingly well. The story takes place in 2071, roughly fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth almost uninhabitable. With humanity scattering in space, intergalactic crime spreads like the wild west. The Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) sets up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters, or “Cowboys”, chase criminals and bring them in for a reward. Three years prior to the show’s beginning, Spike Spiegel, exiled former criminal of the Red Dragon Syndicate, teams up with Jet Black, former ISSP officer. They soon pick up a genetically enhanced corgi named Einstein or Ein for short, a gambler with a case of amnesia named Faye Valentine, and a girl with otherworldly computer skills named Ed. This motley crew travels via a ship named the Bebop, and is always short on woolongs (space’s future currency) as they usually cause more damage during a job than they make. While the story isn’t necessarily linear, character’s pasts are often revealed during them giving the show several overarching plots.

Faye’s arc involves her receiving a Betamax tape which is later revealed to be a recording of herself at a younger age — Though it’s an encouraging video it’s also eerie leaving a message to her future self, as though foreshadowing the disaster which later has her cryogenically frozen until I time she can be treated. According to the Cowboy Bebop wiki, Faye was born August 11th, 1994 (nearly a year younger than me!) and was involved in a spacecraft accident in 2014 which killed both her parents. Ultimately Faye follows a trail of clues about her past until late in the show when her memories recover and she leaves the Bebop and finds the remains of her childhood home.

Ed and Ein aren’t given a very fleshed out backstory. Ein is the result of genetic experiments to improve a dog’s intelligence and Ed is a child who ran away from an orphanage. Though Ed and the crew eventually run into Ed’s father, a forgetful man who clearly has no business raising a child, he leaves without Ed yet again leading Ed and Ein to venture out on their own journey.

Now the main story arc focuses on Spike and his deadly rivalry with Vicious, an enforcer for the Red Dragon Syndicate. In a nutshell, Spike and Vicious were once partners and friends, but then Spike hooks up with Vicious’ girlfriend Julia and tries to convince her to leave the Syndicate with him. Needless to say, Vicious is none to happy about Spike’s betrayal and orders Julia to kill Spike. Instead, she goes into hiding to protect herself and Spike, while Spike fakes his death to escape the Syndicate. Fast forward to the events of Cowboy Bebop, Vicious takes over the Syndicate during a coup d’état and discovers that Spike is still alive. He ultimately kills Julia leading to a final showdown between himself and Spike.

During this showdown Vicious is killed and Spike is mortally wounded eventually walking down some steps before falling down. The screen slowly pans up from Spike’s body as the credits roll giving an ending ambiguous enough to the let viewer decide Spike’s fate — though the overwhelming opinion of most viewers is that Spike dies, an opinion I’ve fought hard against until my most recent watching.

The show also has a great deal of interesting trivia surrounding it such as each episode, or session, name being based on a song, or the Alien references in Toys in the Attic. Speaking of that episode it’s one of my favorites both for it’s complete randomness, break from the traditional format, and especially because of it’s eventual tie-in with creator Watanabe’s future show Space Dandy.

Honestly, it’s hard to find an anime that really compares to Cowboy Bebop. Many have suggested that Outlaw Star is on par, if not better, but I’ve yet to give it a watch. Might give it a go tonight to see what all the hype is about. In regards to Bebop though, my only complaint is that it felt too short and didn’t get a better movie. Not that the movie was bad, I just expected something more.

I give Cowboy Bebop 5/5 Woolongs

W W W W W

So how do you feel about Cowboy Bebop? Love it, hate it, think Outlaw Star is superior?

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