COWBOY BEBOP: the anime

Oct 28, 2021

Okay…

Back in the 90s, when I believed the world was a good and honest place, everything was candy and butterflies, and good always trumps evil. Before even really realizing the difference between animation and anime, the show came that would shape my taste in anime, animation, and live-action forever - Cowboy Bebop.

 There is a lot of standouts over the decade that made the 90s. We had Tamagotchi, Doc Martins, Sony Discman, Beepers, and Captain Planet, to name a few. But somewhere, there was an idea, a belief, a new vision. From the brilliant mind of Shinichiro Watanabe came the show that would shape fans’ perception of what good anime should be, a gold standard if you’d like. Enter Cowboy Bebop, the genre-defying balls to wall epic space-faring sci-fi western.

More than twenty years later and Cowboy Bebop still holds up. It is with good reason; from the art and style, iconic protagonists, to a fantastic story woven together over 26 episodes, each telling its own story but still connecting to a wider world and going more in-depth into the characters and finally coming to the bittersweet conclusion of the overarching storyline.

3…

The story follows the crew of the Bebop; the year is 2071. Humanity has moved on from Earth after a disastrous incident left it primarily uninhabitable. With the galaxy overpopulated, the crime rate is too high for the ISSP (Inter-Solar System Police), so they have decided to legalize bounty hunters to track the criminals, catch them, and get rewarded. Enter the crew of the Bebop, Spike Spiegel, a former hitman for the Red Dragon Syndicate, Jet Black former ISSP officer, Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist, Ed (Edward) is the somewhat odd free-spirited hacker. The final crewmate is Ein, a genetically enhanced Pembroke Welsh Corgi.

The show’s episodic nature might come across as a whacky family fun adventure comedy, from chasing bad guys to preparing meals and everything in between. However, the overarching storyline breathes life into a whole new beast.  Vicious, a former ally of Spike, turned into the main antagonist. A vengeful man, and it is up to Spike to face him one on one.

2…

That’s the gist of the series. Now you might think this sounds familiar. However, you are wrong. What sets Cowboy Bebop apart from so many others is that you will believe the characters are living, breathing people and not just works of fiction. The amazing world does not feel like a stretch of the imagination, and it is easy to fall in and accept what you see as a possible reality somewhere in the future.

1…

The art and style of Cowboy Bebop is truly a pleasure to behold. The animation is smooth, although being a bit vintage by today’s standards. From the facial expressions to the incredible worlds, nothing feels rushed or unbelievable, which could be due to Cowboy Bebop relying heavily on westernization and pop culture. On the other hand, there is a good amount of screentime dedicated to the backstories of each of the characters, creating depth rarely seen in anime. And this brings forward a certain realism to each of the characters.

let`s jam…

Now last but certainly not least, “I think it’s time we blow this scene. Get everybody and the stuff together. Okay, three, two, one, let’s jam.” Tank is Cowboy Bebops theme song, and anybody who has ever heard of Cowboy Bebop or seen Cowboy Bebop will know this iconic tune walks hand in hand with the greats. It is instant recognization when this tune pops up, like the Indiana Jones theme or the Star Wars theme. When hearing those notes that melody, you are instantly whisked away to the worlds where these characters reside. Cowboy Bebop not only has a fantastic theme but also has terrific music fitting each scene perfectly throughout the series. 

Final thought

Spike Spiegel - Cowboy Bebop

After rewatching Cowboy Bebop in preparation for the upcoming live-action adaptation by Netflix, the way to best describe the feeling is like an old friend coming home after a very long time. Although you know the stories by heart, you will never grow tired of hearing (in this case, watching) them again and again. Feel that sweet nostalgia creeping up and launching a lump in your throat after 26 brilliantly crafted episodes. And, the best part is there is no genre here to pin down, and it has elements of a lot of genres beautifully crafted and woven into each other. If you are a fan of anime or want to start with anime, there is no show that I would recommend higher than Cowboy Bebop. 

I could go on and on about Cowboy Bebop, but it is best to discover this gem yourself, and there is only one way to end this piece… “SEE YOU, SPACE COWBOY. “

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