Throwback Thursdays: Cowboy Bebop

After receiving numerous recommendations over the years, I finally sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. After finishing the show, I decided it was necessary to review the show as soon as possible. I should also point out Charles is a huge fan of this show (E/N: I am most definitely a huge fan of it!). His picture on the Authors page is of the main character after all.

You could say my life revolves around defending Cowboy Bebop as earning every bit of praise its received, and you wouldn’t be inaccurate.

Cowboy Bebop is basically it’s own genre. It has lots of science fiction elements, western elements, and noir elements all interwoven. The story follows the bounty hunter crew on the spaceship known as Bebop. They travel through space hunting for criminals and confronting their own pasts. Each person on the ship has an amount of depth driven from their own past and backstory. All these stories end up being integral in the direction the show takes.

TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series
TWWK: I own this amazing box set of the series

Part of the story’s uniqueness is in how it’s incredibly episodic – I think I count only 5 episodes that deal directly with the main character’s (Spike) story – and yet it weaves together into this awesome tapestry of cohesive…awesomeness.

When I sat down to watch the show, I had some preset expectations. First, the show looks like a western; I have a large amount of disdain for westerns. Second, the music is jazz. I am not a huge fan of jazz. Third, the spaceships looked cool, but the art looked moody. Well, my fears for the western style feel quickly wore off. The western theme is more of a facade to explain the bounty hunting and culture, than an actual plot driving tool. The music is wonderful. It is a bit strange, but it is very iconic and hearing it makes me reminisce about the show. And finally, the moody art style is gorgeous. The ships are really well designed. The anime was made in 1999, but it doesn’t feel dated; it has aged nicely.

You’re absolutely right in saying that the animation ages well.  I’ve tried picking up a lot of series from yesteryear, but of my favorites, I think only Cowboy Bebop and Trigun stand the test of time when it comes to animation quality.  And the music, of course, is the stuff of legends – Yoko Kanno’s brilliance is undeniable, as even a middling fan of the show like Hailey can appreciate:

courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com
courtesy of shorty-cake.tumblr.com

My initial surprise with the show, is how quickly I was hooked. Almost right away, I wanted to watch episode after episode. Even after finishing the show, I want to go back and re-watch it. I really appreciate the attention and detail that was put into the characters and plot. I also thoroughly enjoy the moodiness and quiet epic quality the show took on. It carries itself like a classical heroic tragedy, and at the same time bridges on the dark and gritty noir feel. The show isn’t all dark and bleak, but it does feel quite dark at times. Oh, and the ending, which I won’t go spoil, is amazing and frustrating.

As you mentioned earlier, the show’s so hard to categorize because it does a bit of everything, and it does it so well.  And oh, that ending!  Classic.

All around, Cowboy Bebop broke my expectations and built itself in to a show like nothing I have ever seen. I can’t think of a single anime or even a show that isn’t anime, that pulled off a feeling like this one gives off. Artistically, this is one of the best shows I have ever seen. Overall, this isn’t one of my favorites, but is one that I will look on favorably. I just felt too unsettled by the time I finished to call it amazing. I do however, know that this show has a massive appeal and some people will absolutely love it. It just isn’t my metaphorical cup of tea. I will however be stealing concepts from the show for my own stories, as any author would do.

My Final Recommendation: Go for it, you will most likely enjoy it. I did.

Absolutely. It’s a classic of anime – if you don’t watch it, you’re gonna carry that weight.

7 thoughts on “Throwback Thursdays: Cowboy Bebop

  1. Fine, fine, I’ll watch it. This is one of those shows that’s been on my to-watch list for a long time, largely because of Charles’s repeat recommendations. I’m not exactly a fan of episodic anime in general, which doesn’t help. But I liked Trigun well enough, and I like this kind of action/adventure… and it is available on Hulu right now… maybe after I finish re-watching Haikyuu!!. ^_^

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    1. It feels like this is the summer of catch-up for you – time to dig into all those classics or popular anime you’ve been avoiding.

      To be honest, it may not be your kind of series. Still, it’s kind of technically brilliant – Hailey, who I screencapped above (and you follow her on Tumblr I think) thought it was very good, but didn’t love it.

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      1. I like things that are “technically brilliant.” I’m finally able to appreciate those things and enjoy them on a deeper level, thanks to my professors (and the fact that I’ve paid for the privilege of learning to appreciate literature and other media). So I’ll watch it, and if the storytelling, etc. is as good as ya’ll say, I’ll probably end up writing about it (after I read all the posts about it here).

        This was supposed to be the summer of catch-up for me… then I got a job. XD But Free! actually sounded good while I was scooping ice cream in the heat today (okay, anything water-related sounded good). So I might get caught up on that before Cowboy Bebop (which, in contrast, reminds me of deserts and heat, even if it is set in space).

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  2. Now I have to watch the ending…I forgot how it ends. To me, Trigun and this one though have similar themes going on, even the way they end (if I remember correctly….) but yeah, great review! I too am going through some old anime’s I’ve been meaning to watch to filter through the good/bad and see if I find some gold nuggets 🙂

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    1. Two very different series, yet they do feel like a pair – I agree!

      Oh yes, you should go rewatch the end. I would say it’s easily of the most famed endings in all anime.

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