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?