Around We Go Again – Cowboy Bebop

This is one of my favorite series of all time. Cowboy Bebop. I have not watched in about five years. Last week I decided to hop on the merry-go-round and watch again one of the first anime series to capture my heart. My rewatch of the show is partly due to Sakamichi no Apollon having the same director as Cowboy Bebop. I will seek to avoid making comparisons between the two shows. I first came across Cowboy Bebop in college where I had a roommate who was in love with Spike. This was my first taste of fandom and its idiosyncrasies.  I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit I thought she was completely off her rocker. Hey, remember that Atlanta Braves pitcher, John Rocker, yeah, what a befitting last name. Ok, that has nothing to do with this post but when I think of someone being off their rocker, John Rocker pops in my head like a nice rewarding bounty does for Spike. This roommate of mines was completely obsessed and would talk about how handsome he was and I’m thinking; “But he’s not real!” Since I was living with her in a room not bigger than your average walk-in closet; there was one television, I ended up watching Cowboy Bebop with her. I admitted that Spike was a handsomely drawn character but what she failed to mention was how great the show was and there was much more involved than a hot character!

The first episode is probably one of the most captivating beginnings to a show I have ever seen. It is immediately apparent that this will be a great show. You’re introduced to Spike, who is by far one of my most favorite male anime characters and Jet Black. They make a very interesting team. What is beautiful about Cowboy Bebop is that in each episode, you are introduced to the bounties in a way that makes you have a connection with them. Some of them you even want to see again. For example, Abdul Hakim. It took the rewatch this time around to realize that this was a tribute(?) to NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I only put it together when I noticed that he was extremely tall and had to duck under a door-frame to get inside. Weird way to to see the similarity but I did. He had a similar fighting style as Spike and they never truly got to fighting which would have been exciting to see.  I wanted to know more about Abdul Hakim and why he had gone through so many surgical changes.

You were also saddened to see some characters’ demise. If you have seen the show, think back to the first episode. I was drawn to one of the characters as was Spike and would have learned more about the character’s story. This attraction to characters is part of what makes the show so great. The ability to have watchers drawn in and finding a connection with the characters is hard to come by in many shows whether they be anime or live-action. For me, Cowboy Bebop is also one of the best sci-fi anime series to date with the science fiction being more of a backdrop and the relationships between the characters being in the forefront. You’ve got Spike who hates “critters and kids” but ends up taking in both; Edward and Ein. Edward and Ein are both geniuses and find a happy place right in your heart. Spike was a man running from his pain but he always ran straight into trouble. But, hey, as a bounty hunter, one has no choice but to gallop heroically (haha) into trouble.

The animation quality of the show is superb even in 2012; the show was made in 1998. It does have an obvious 90s look but it was still beautifully drawn. From the spaceships hurtling across the stars, the cars barreling down the roads, the facial expressions of the characters, you get a sense of realism that is missing any many of the more modern shows. Interestingly enough, my rewatch of the show was the first time I had seen it subbed. Since my introduction to Cowboy Bebop was the dubbed version; I never watched it subbed. The English dub is just as good as the Japanese original. They did a wonderful job of matching voices. The voices were quite close to the Japanese voices and this is such a rarity with dubs always leaving me disappointed.

I have not yet found a sci-fi series that has interested me as much as Cowboy Bebop. If you know of one similar or that you think I might like, please feel free to leave a recommendation down in the comments section. If you haven’t watched Cowboy Bebop; I have one question for you. What is wrong with you? :)

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13 Comments

  1. I’ve heard many good things about Cowboy Bebop. I’m ashamed to say that I have not watched it, but based on your nostalgia post about it I think I will. I’m usually picky with sci-fi genres and if this is a good one, then it’s something I have to see.

    • I enjoy sci-fi and this is definitely one of the better ones. As I mentioned in my post, it plays more of a background role in the show but the element is still there.

  2. Ah, Cowboy Bebop. Without a doubt, it is my favorite anime ever. Part of that is the nostalgia factor, sure — I was actually a wee little middle schooler staying up late to catch it on Adult Swim when Adult Swim was brand new — but it really is just a kick ass show. Of the incidental characters, Gren from the Jupiter Jazz episodes was easily my favorite. He probably could have had a fascinating series all his own.

    As for other sci fi anime, Ghost in the Shell is usually considered *the* go-to show, followed closely by Evangelion. At this point, you probably know if those are for you or not. Otherwise, Last Exile is among my personal favorites and it has a sequel that was recently released as well.

    • Apparently, Cowboy Bebop has been on a while before I started watching it with my roommate (or she had seen it some other way). Mr. Saxophone Man, yeah, he definitely had an interesting storyline.

      GitS is another personal favorite. I’ve had to watch it more than once to truly get an understanding of it. Still unsure if I have grasp it all.

      I have yet to watch Evangelion and probably won’t but I have watched some of Last Exile.

      • If you do decide to ever pick up Evangelion, I recommend the new movies that were released. You get the gist of the story with updated animation and a shorter run-time.

      • Thanks. That sounds like a great idea.

  3. Kai

    That reminds me I still need to keep up with some of them classic shows like these, which I missed several years back.

    • I watch the classic shows more frequently than the newer shows. This is mainly due to the seasons being completed and I can marathon.

  4. The one thing that stood out to me about “Bebop”, among many other things, is the fact that it’s so realistic. A lot of times with shows based in space or in the future, the environment is this ultra-super-hyper clean ship or space station with people dressed in fancy clothes with sharp angles and technology that is so for out in left field it’s dizzying. With “Bebop” it’s different. The future is dark, gritty and grimy at times. Ships have the appearance of being battle worn with rust, dents and dings in the hull. There’s no Gene Roddenberry “Star Trek” mentality where money is no longer needed and human beings have evolved to a higher plane of thinking. Money is still the driving force of everyone’s actions and humans are still as destitute and immoral as ever; drinking, smoking, stealing, killing–it’s all still there. One thing that I noticed is that the advanced technology that is in use on “Bebop”, like the hyperspace gate, is not treated as anything special or sacred. For example, the gate is treated much in the same way that a toll road is treated in modern times; you go through it, get scanned, and it automatically takes your money.

    I recommend you check out (if you haven’t already) a show called “Planetes”. It’s made by the same studio that created “Bebop”, and it’s acutally a lot like it as well. I wrote up a review on it if you want more info!

    • Thanks. I will check out your review about it. I have not seen Planetes but this is not the first time it has been recommended. I agree with you in regards to the realism of Bebop. It showed the “everyday” life of regular people. You still have the old men drinking at a bar, you still have the nutty women and their animals, drug dealers, gamblers, technology has advanced but people are still the same.

  5. I remember watching Cowboy Bebop about five years ago also and I have to say that is truly was insanely good. The storytelling and how the show progressed was and is still to this day one of a kind in the anime world. It open up so many different levels of depth that it kept you interested throughout the whole show.

    This post made me want to watch Bebop again. Will download and watch it as soon as I possibly can.

    Also, older animes tend to be much better than new animes. So there is no wondering why there hasn’t been any show as good as Bebop. It’s totally unique.

    • I would really like modern anime to improve. It seems that in each passing season, the shows get progressively worse. There are a couple of gems here and there but nothing spectacular anymore. Nothing that makes me want to buy the DVD when it is released.

      • Exactly! Very nice put, I totally agree with you.

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