Category Archives: Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop Episode 4 [Theatrical Edition] [END]

vlcsnap-2014-12-17-14h33m02s170 vlcsnap-2014-12-17-14h33m24s147 vlcsnap-2014-12-17-14h38m35s208 vlcsnap-2014-12-17-14h38m49s83

Session#4 – Gateway Shuffle

Real quickly I want to invite my readers to my Facebook page for this site, it’s finally up here.

The first episode introduced us to bounty hunters Spike and Jet–  the lives they lead and the struggles they have at making money with their professions.  While it was a very delicate look into the universe of Bebop the second entry shifted with a less serious tone using Ein as the bounty reward and the hilarity of Spike’s own skills as a fighter to add more a drive to this series.  Honky Tonk Woman delivered one of two of the strongest female characters in the entire series with Faye Valentine and her self-indulgent endeavors at escaping from a life that was boring to her.  That was only touched on here and now we’ve got a varied main cast on board the Bebop and this is where the fourth episode comes in.

Faye decides to work with Spike the rest of the Bebop crew to hunt down a space activist group that plans to turn the human population of Ganymede into monkeys.  The silliness of this episode seeped through with the virus “Monkey Business” but more so with the depiction of Harrison and his relationship with his mother, Twinkle Maria Murdock.  I really enjoyed how this completely backfires on him by the end with his insistent punishments for neglecting his duties as a member of the terrorist group Space Warriors.

This also marks the first time we are given a look into Jet’s past and his connection with the ISSP.  Bob’s reveal to Jet about the Space Warriors bounty cancelled and demanding a ransom with the hostages was proof that there is a lot more to him than the bounty hunter that he claims to be.  Faye was used wonderfully here, because since the previous episode we were given a comedic side to Bebop that we hadn’t seen before–  sarcasm and this plot emphasized it so much more.  Her constant bickering with Spike including Ein really pushed towards the development in how real these characters were for a series set in space and their actions to keep these adventures highly engaging.

It is also great how well directed this episode was because we’ve got Yoshiyuki Takei handling this–  whom got his start out on the popular Escaflowne series of the early 90’s and the more recent and very inventive ending animation to Space Dandy‘s final episode!

If only they surprised the audience here with all 26 episodes as I definitely would have stayed for every single one of them.  However, it is great that they chose these four episodes to screen because while they were a good start for a first-time viewer they rekindled what fans loved about the series.  Each one of them had been unique, they offered a great perspective into the world of Bebop without spoiling parts of the main story.  It’s memorable cast and it’s enthralling collection of stories helped landmark this series to greatness.  Just in the way that Watanabe’s newest series Space Dandy had done this year.  While Space Dandy may have been a spiritual successor or rather answer to Bebop‘s main themes, Cowboy Bebop is a definitive call to establishing Japanese animation into the mainstream industry of television–  it’s wildly ambitious, genuinely dramatic and funny at times utilizing episodic content at the forefront.  It is an honest view of western culture with a mix between American and Japanese commentary in a very stylish way.

I sure do hope that the Alamo Drafthouse and their collaboration with Funimation would considering screening the rest of this significant series as it would give a newer generation of anime fans a broader look at what made japanese animation so important at that time rather than the countless moe-filled series that have become the foundation of this medium today.  It is interesting though to see how much animation has changed since then and how often we are given the anime of today with a pretty look rather than a realistic and mature one.  I guess what I’m trying to say here is that what Cowboy Bebop taught anime series ahead of its time is to be solid, hearty and rich in all facets of storytelling.

Also, want to point out that I wonder if the disguise Morgan was using at the beginning was the culmination of Dandy, seriously the guy looks very similar to him.  Not to mention the star on his suit.  Really cool to see that thrown into an earlier series like this and it makes me think about how much influence this series had on developing Space Dandy—  the currency, Toys in the Attic fridge, Dandy’s ‘bang’ quote, among many others.

See You Space Cowboy…

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Advertisements

Cowboy Bebop Episode 3 [Theatrical Edition]

vlcsnap-2014-12-14-21h28m25s82 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-21h28m33s154 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-21h29m12s83 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-21h30m01s250

Session#3 – Honky Tonk Women

One of the most incredible female anime characters of all time, Faye Valentine is brought into the adventures of the Bebop and this is one episode that shouldn’t be missed–  as it is an absolute favorite of mine, due to its dynamic between action and comedy that has a wonderfully written script by screenplay writer of Tokyo Godfathers and numerous Space Dandy episodes Keiko Nobumoto.  This was awesome to watch on the big screen!

Casino settings, sometimes these are thrown into series without any real reason [Rave Master] and used as filler and other times they are used as a backdrop for the main themes of series, one more recent being 2011’s Rio~Rainbow Gate.  Then there are shows that have a really strong individual plot set around this aspect of life only to establish its characters even further–  Cowboy Bebop used this amazingly well by putting Faye at the very center of it.  A fugitive stuck with a ton of debt ends up being caught in the middle of a bad situation that gets even worse as the story jumps further along as people wind up getting killed, being manipulated and having Faye working for the head of the casino, Gordon!

This truly gives off a very engrossing story here that re-introduces a lot of space themes we’ve seen before–  deception between Faye and the casino, Spike’s luck with danger and of course a very cool scene with Faye’s Hammer Head ship!  She’s a strong, smart and sexy woman that uses her appeal to get what she wants.  Also she is able to do something this show hasn’t done before yet–  a really good level of sarcasm between Spike and Jet that overturns every single person in this entire episode!

She captures Spike’s curiosity by cheating at blackjack, her attempts at escaping both the casino and the Bebop illustrates how she wants to run away from the debt she has acquired and the life she leads.  I won’t spoil anything here about future episodes but I find it very intriguing towards the beginning with Gordon that Faye known as the Lady Luck/Queen of Hearts in the solar system mentions if the legend of Hearts were still alive she would be over 200 years old–  an unusually small detail that after having seen this series becomes a poignant part in the development of Faye’s past.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Cowboy Bebop Episode 2 [Theatrical Edition]

vlcsnap-2014-12-14-20h08m40s148 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-20h08m58s41 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-20h16m48s132 vlcsnap-2014-12-14-20h10m01s154

Session#2 – Stray Dog Strut

If there is anything I have learned over the course of my anime viewing its that episode directors can largely play a role in how an episode’s pacing, art, choice in music let alone overall tone can be integral in making or break an episode whether it has a good script or a poorly written one.  When it comes down to it the episode directors have a way of completely overturning so many of these elements and general director Shinichiro Watanabe knows this when he recruits his staff.

What I mean to say here with regards to Cowboy Bebop is that we’ve got this hardened and intelligent series and the first episode proved just that with the attention of quite a few factions wanting the drug Bloody Eye.  However, here we’ve got a plot that has introduced what Space Dandy had done so well and that is putting its characters through comedic situations.  Not over the top like what tons of anime series from the 90’s and even today do with its repetitive jokes–  Nichijou, Monogatari series are to name just a few.  Comedy anime series that have more than meets the eye and that triggers every aspect on the development side to have a finished animated production with substance.

Spike hates animals and when he tries to catch up with the mysterious Ein in order to receive his bounty reward on Hakim he is left a lot more irritated than what we’ve seen before.  This provides a very nice balance to what we already know so far–  he’s a bounty hunter that knows martial arts is a daring pilot.  Plus we had one of the coolest vocal tracks featured in this episode by Mai Yamane–  “I Want it all Back”.

Ikuro Sato helmed this episode and I can see where the inspiration from the zombie episode of Space Dandy came from this story of Cowboy Bebop—  odd yet funny scenes that capture the misfortunes of the main cast.  Spike is led on a chase by data dog Ein where Dandy is running away from a collection of mindless brain-munching zombies–  two different genres that tackle similar elements–  strange animals [Bebop] and strange aliens [Dandy] push the lead character into a worse situation than what they had started with.  Both episodes had a rather fast pace to them considering how slow Dandy and his crew moved by the second half of the zombie episode! Haha!

Which brings this full circle into Spike’s character in that he hates animals and now has one as part of a crew member on the Bebop.  Fantastic direction in introducing its characters!  However, there was a lack of backstory for Ein–  the scientists that are chasing after him provided a wider entanglement part of this episode but little to no understanding as to how and why Ein was made into a data dog.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 9/10

Cowboy Bebop Episode 1 [Theatrical Edition]

vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h51m36s108 vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h52m01s131 vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h54m32s67 vlcsnap-2014-12-09-11h55m58s142

Session#1 – Asteroid Blues

I walked into this screening as advertised with the English dub listed as the official audio track for this special presentation but as soon as the opening began it was in japanese with subtitles.  In amazing that 7.1 surround sound across a giant screen in Blu-ray format.  It has been about a year since I have seen a whole entire episode of Bebop in Japanese so with this I was pleasantly surprised.

As the story opens up we are introduced to Asimov Solensan, a drug dealer and criminal along with his girlfriend Katarina–  what makes these stories so popular is how stand-alone some of the episodes are as we are given a glimpse at Spike and Jet and the adventures on the Bebop by putting them in the background and giving the main focus to the episodic characters of this series and even this episode!  This worked out very well here because it moves at such a pace that doesn’t leave the viewer bored between long conversations about Bloody-Eye and the numerous agencies wanting to sell it on the streets to action-packed shootouts and dogfights between the police, Asimov and the Bebop.

Yoko Kanno may have written the greatest soundtrack she’s ever done in her career with Zankyou no Terror but without the fantastic music of Cowboy Bebop we would not have all the incredible musical pieces as we have today if it were not for this series!  Come to think of it, after having seen Space Dandy I can see the amount of influence Kanno had on director Watanabe with both series when he gathers different staff to work on episodes.  Here we’ve got a really strong episode director with Yoshiyuki Takei from Vision of Escaflowne fame and helmed probably the strongest episode of Kidō Butōden G-Gundam from the early 90’s.  The animator of Michio e Hatchin‘s final episode developed the designs for this and very much captures as a whole how the anime industry has changed as technology has advanced over the years!  Akitoshi Yokohama is a really talented animator I say that because he’s so versatile from going between series–  Rahxephon and Photo Kano to series like Kemenozume and Kill La Kill!  Incredible!

For Cowboy Bebop voice acting has always been memorable both in Japanese and in English but what shined especially in this episode was how subtle it was.  No overacting that a ton of shows even today suffer from as this presented a very different feel that makes you feel like you aren’t watching anime.  I mentioned before how well-written the script was for the English dialogue of this show but I have to hand it to the Japanese cast for delivering really strong performances–  Kouichi Yamadera [Spike Spiegel] gives off a mix of low and higher sounding pitch compared to Stephen Jay Blum’s hardened smooth tone.  Both are really good voice actors in their respective countries as what this episode succeeded in doing that most series fall short in is pacing.  For this episode we had two very special seiyu, Rintarou Nishi [Asimov] and Yurka Hino [Katarina], both are doing two underrated yet very good shows this season– Amemiya’s tokusatsu series Garo and Chibli’s first television series Ronja based on Swedish author Astrid Lindgren’s novel of the same name.  It’s really cool to see how much their voices have aged over these years and yet they are still able to deliver some amazing performances!

There wasn’t a lot thrown at us as we were show small details of the jobs of bounty hunters, crime and the life that Spike and Jet lead against the backdrop of the Tijuana asteroid colony.  This world reminded me a lot of the towns from Trigun and considering how Bebop got released after that series I wonder if there was some influence here.

Great introduction to a compelling series that provides us with a bigger picture overall that even made Space Dandy so amazing–  the Bebop crew encounter different people throughout different worlds where each episode is varied, some are action-packed, filled will romance, intense thrillers but at the end of it all we are taken inside their travels of making money and living life.  Truly an exception series.


OP: “Tank!!” by the Seatbelts [arranged by Yoko Kanno]

One of the most popular anime songs ever, and in my list of favorite opening animations of all time!  This song doesn’t use vocals but a style of bebop which is largely mixed which here is used to its full potential!  A sense of pizazz by incorporating dark tones mixed with bright backgrounds against a very rambunctious and ambitious jazz score reminiscent of the early days of Latin music! A fantastic overview both in imagery and musical performance of what this series themes are truly about!

ED: “The Real Folk Blues” by the Seatbelts featuring vocals: Mai Yamane

[arranged and composed by Yoko Kanno]

This is by far one of the best ending themes to an anime series ever, and I can’t find anything wrong with this as it uses japanese vocals by Mai Yamane to bring the story of Spike’s lost love into the picture with such passion!  There were a lot of talented international staff members that helped bring this to life including recording engineer of Mile Davis, Rudy van Gelder!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10