So many things can happen in space. It’s a plane of surprises and unknown land, but wait. Did I mention there’s also bounty hunters and portals? Yup. Now you know. The year is 2071 and civilization has created portals to better travel between worlds. The protagonist, Spike Spiegel, is cool. He is literally a cool cat. He and his partner, Jet Black, hunt down people with a bounty on them, and in return, they get a reward. The sad thing is, is that they rarely catch the people, and of course, they never get the money. SO they basically aimlessly wander throughout the galaxy on their spaceship, Bebop. This show captures romance, old cowboy and martial arts fighting sequences, but even more importantly, it shows the progression and humble beginnings of the characters. Nobody had a bright and colorful childhood, but they compensated for that. Whether that be Faye or Ed, the backstory is unbelievable. Let’s take a tour through the Bebop.
The story begins on the Bebop. A bouquet of flowers in a puddle. A gunshot. A recurring image. Inside of it, there’s a man named Spike Spiegel and his partner Jet Black. They’re broke. The reason being, they’re pretty much failing at their job. They have to capture people with a bounty on them for money, the problem is, is that they’re not capturing the people. This upsets them, more so in terms of buying better food. The main way of knowing where the criminals are is watching this show called Punch and Judy. They Basically inform bounty hunters what criminals are on the run and how much the reward is. Upon watching this show, we are launched into our first chase. They are chasing a man named Asimov for a bounty on his distribution of a drug called Bloody eye. Upon locating him, we see that the drug makes the user extremely aggravated and pretty much a wild beast. With this in mind, the first fighting scene happens. It’s literally exhilarating as hell. Rush by Yoko Kanno kicks in, and the fighting just gets that much better. Right from the get go, we can see Spike’s fighting style. It’s loose, water like. He’s fluid, and this fighting style creates these smooth and seamless fighting scenes that make me as excited as watching Kill Bill or The Matrix. After Asimov is pinned down, we see his partner drifting off into space, and right before her ship explodes, she says “see you space cowboy.” After this, we are launched into a slick story that consists of all of spike’s least favorite things, Kids, Animals, and Tomboy Women, but more so, it consists of Spike’s settlement and closure with his past events and love interests, and with all the characters aboard the Bebop coming to terms with their past. Pretty much all of the characters have insane amounts of baggage with them, but I firmly believe that they were abandoned by the end of the show. This makes the show that much more relatable. The characters are humans, and they do struggle. Spike is lost in the past, and so is everyone else. The only thing you can do is come to terms with it.
The soundtrack was composed by Yoko Kanno, with the assistance of the band the Seatbelts and multiple orchestras/choirs, different vocalists, and tons of guest artists. It’s just honestly difficult to explain how perfectly the different genres and were captured on this sound, and how rich and original these songs are. Yoko Kanno plays with everything from Bebop/Hard Bop, 20th century/Classical/Baroque music, Blues, Bossa Nova and Samba, and even different types of electronic music such as jungle. But the most impressive thing of these songs is the placement of them within the anime. They compliment the story and pace of the scene in an almost ideal way. For example, when we are introduced to Ed, cats on mars is played, which is a cute and spacey song that almost sounds like something off of katamari damacy or a song by Stereolab. It introduces Ed in such a cute and energetic/childish way which in turn makes her that much more of an interesting character. There are so many other examples of songs complimenting scenes, but if you want to see for yourself, watch the anime and listen to all the soundtracks. The choral pieces are especially good. Another really important part of Yoko Kanno’s work in this series is the vast amount of material she made for it. She made four soundtracks for the show, not including the soundtrack she made for the movie. That’s an insane amount of effort put into an animation, and oh oh oh it must have felt so fulfilling. The execution was perfect. Even her influences like naming tracks on the soundtrack after jazz standards or arranging Big P by cannonball adderley on “clutch,” It caught the coolest badass feeling to it. This soundtrack took the show to so many different levels, and for that reason, it remains one of my favorite ost’s of all time.
Sweet cowboy fighting scenes, cigarettes in the rain, shattered glass and a human falling out of a cathedral. The animation in this show compliments every single aspect of it. Even being animated in the late 90’s, it’s still fresh and hip to this day. The outfits worn by the main characters were definitely a throwback to the sixties and early seventies, and it pretty much makes the show that much more vintage and sort of like antique. Whether it’s the fluid fighting scenes or the sleek and slim appearance of Spike, the characters are presented in a stylish and original way. Sunrise pretty much never fails. They couldn’t have picked a better studio to animate this show, and for that, I am grateful. The scenes were captured perfectly, and they truly complimented the soundtrack and dialogue, be it japanese or english (they’re both amazing.)
Cowboy bebop was and is a turning point for anime. It showed that you can put tremendous amounts of effort into the soundtrack, and also that it could be a serious and professional work of music. Especially being broadcasted during the turn of the century, it wrapped all of the decades in a cute and spunky package. It captured everything from the 20’s to the 50’s in an original and authentic way. It signalled the beginning of a progressive and serious take on anime. Whether you watch it for the fighting scenes or the spike’s philosophical ideas on time, this show will offer you something, anything, that no other anime can. Are you living in the real world? Can you really ever let go of the past? That’s for you to decide.
10 out of 10 Tacos
Post by: Victor