Cowboy Bebop [Anime Review]
That trumpet-driven opening music. The smooth 60’s jazz-influenced intro scened. Welcome to the futuristic, character-driven, dystopian space anime, Cowboy Bebop.
Cowboy Bebop is a 1998 anime masterpiece; produced by Sunrise and was lead by Shinichiro Watanabe, followed by an all-star team of screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto of Macross Plus fame (and more), legendary character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, legendary mechanical designer Kimitoshi Yamane and all-time great composer Yoko Kanno.
The anime is about a group of bounty hunters in space, living life, and surviving the vastness of space while avoiding the past lives they once lived.
Ballad Of The Fallen Angels.
The anime follows the story of bounty hunters Spike Speigel, Jet Black, along with Faye Valentine, Edward Wong and Ein. They travel the solar system in the spaceship, Bebop, taking down criminals and collecting the bounties on their heads. While all of the main characters and side characters have interesting stories to tell, the story of Cowboy Bebop mainly revolves around our ever so aloof protagonist, Spike Spiegel, a former hitman of the Red Dragon Syndicate and his rivalry with his former partner, Vicious.
It’s the same story all over again, boy meets girl, boy falls in love with the girl, the girl is already with another boy who is the boys best friend. Bloody civil war occurs and the whole syndicate is torn to pieces as Spike and Vicious go after each other. Spike ends up faking his death to leave the syndicate and Julia ends up going into hiding, to not escalate the hostilities and to avoid Vicious wrath,
As the series progresses, we learn more and more about the crews past and what drives them to the future. We start to understand what makes each character tick and as the show nears the ending arc, their stories start to get untangled and we are left with one of animes greatest masterpieces.
The Real Folk Blues…..
Cowboy Bebop is one of my favorite animes of all time. I’m pretty sure it’s tied up in #1 with whatever my #1 picks are but it is a mainstay. To be fair, I’m biased with this anime as I am in love with the sci-fi genre and Cowboy Bebop combines all of the elements and sub-genres that I like.
The story is very engaging and character driven. From the very first episode, we are introduced to a prequel scene that will make sense as the show progresses. The characters were thought out carefully, each with their own little nuances and flourishes and while there are a main arc and protagonist, they all shine as characters. Even the antagonist, sub antagonist and side characters are full of vigor and shine. No one is really boring or standard and they all feel like living breathing people. The worldbuilding may seem standard at first but as the show continues, little hints of how this all came to be are slowly show. The world feels like a realistic possible future if mankind ever gets to space.
The animation is top-notch, crisp and fluid. The fight scenes are choreographed well, from the hand to hand combat to the space dogfights – there’s a couple of episodes in this anime where this is really showcased and really shines. Character designs are very original, the signature flair of the legendary designers who worked on this anime can be seen subtlety. They really paid homage to the previous work they took this idea from, from the Bruce Lee’esque fight scenes to the Macross style space dogfights. The feel of the 60’s noir imagery was really showcased well, even though this anime was set in the future in space. The elements of noir and cool jazz vibe permeates the whole anime.
The music as well, very appropriate to what the anime is trying to showcase. It is more of a movie soundtrack than a TV show soundtrack. All musical genres were presented well and used accurately in the anime to elevate the mood and the immersion. Tank and The Real Folk Blues are still one of my favorite anime music of all time, I was just listening to them as I was writing this post.
See Ya Space Cowboy…..
Cowboy Bebop will always hold a little piece of my heart. The anime came out right when I was getting into the whole anime obsession and it blew me away. I waited for the next VHS release at my local comics store religiously as they rented it out when it came out.
As I was a fan already of all the genres this anime paid homage to, I was really excited and amazed at how well they did it. While the producers made it no secret as to who there were paying their homages to, I was still blown away at how consistent and how refreshing their take was, each episode was carefully and meticulously arranged to show respect to the genre and their predecessors.
When the whole tone of the anime was very serious, it also had some lighthearted moments intertwined in between the blood and violence in their lives. The story and their situation was life or death, each character brought a certain “je nai se quois” attitude to them that made them personable and their situation more optimistic.
If you Bruce Lee, Firefly, Kill Bill – you will love this anime. Watch it! Now!