Category: Anime Comedy


Well space cowboys, we’ve come to the last leg of our journey. Our time upon the Bebop has come to a close and we must bid Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein a most fond farewell. It was a fun trip that involved amnesiacs, mind control, truckers, blobs in refrigerators, yakuza, artificially aware satellites, and more crazy awesome than you can shake a stick at. But like the Native American in the finale said, all great journeys must eventually come to a close. And it will be time for a new one to start for me soon enough (actually as soon as my next Netflix DVD’s come in the mail and I start getting Neon Genesis Evangelion).

While I’ve written 5 other reviews for the series so far, they focused on the particular episodes that I had seen at that point. This will try to be a general synopsis of my feelings for the series so I apologize for the fact that a lot of the things I’ve said before are probably going to be repeated. Unlike many anime which are highly serialized and consecutive in their myth arc development, Cowboy Bebop is much more episodic in nature and the myth arc is developed slowly but beautifully over the series course, and much of that is simply character development and universe building. The show focuses on the antics and adventures of the crew of the spaceship Bebop. The primary protagonist is Spike Spiegel, a Cowboy, which is the show’s word for a bounty hunter. He’s joined by ex-cop and father figure Jet Black, mysterious con woman Faye Valentine, genius child prodigy Ed, and the dog Ein. Over the course of the show’s 26 episodes, you get a deeper and deeper look at their stories and the universe that they live in, and it all culminates in an absolutely beautiful series finale.

The series is science-fiction first and foremost, but it masterfully weaves a tale that incorporates all of my favorite genres of fiction. Film Noir, westerns, mafia pictures, comedy, psychological drama. And it does all of them better than most shows can do a single one. Some of the episodes of this show are my favorite episodes not just of anime but of any type of TV. Spike and Ed are two of my favorite characters in all of anime. Spike is simply one of the coolest dudes to ever be drawn on screen and Ed’s never-ending word salad is always endearing. Series big bad Vicious is also one of anime’s most compelling villains. The animation and art direction are also superb enough to match the story-telling, which is often a rare feat in a lot of anime.

One of the most memorable aspects of the series is its soundtrack. Live action or animated, no show has a better score than Cowboy Bebop. Yoko Kanno, over the course of the series 26 episode run, delivered a score that can only be described as perfect, and while it is heavily jazz-influenced, it also shows streaks in practically every genre of music, and it never failed to impress me. If you have no interest in the show, you should at least check out its superb soundtrack. The voice acting on the show is also top notch and has the finest English dub of any anime that I’ve watched. No voice actor drags the series down and it never succumbs to any of the cliches of most English anime dubs. I actually think the English dub is better than the original Japanese voice acting.

Cowboy Bebop is the greatest anime of all time. It outclasses its closest competition for me, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, by a mile. Even if you don’t like anime, you should give this one a go, especially if you were a fan of science fiction cult classic Firefly. This show has multi-demographic appeal and I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Bang.

Final Score: A+

Well, in the immortal words of Jim Morrison, this is the end, or almost anyways. I’ve got one disc of Cowboy Bebop to watch after this review is over. It should be coming from Netflix within the week and that means my return to the spaceship Bebop and the adventures of its inhabitants will have finally drawn to a close. It’s a bitter sweet emotion because I’ve been really loving watching this show these last couple weeks. All great things must come to an end I guess.

The first episode of the four on the disc was probably one of the weaker episodes of the series that I’ve watched so far and I was never really exactly sure what was going on. However, that’s ok because the second episode “Pierrot Le Fou” has been my second favorite episode of the series, only behind the 5th episode. It was a really cool departure from the norm for the series and the villain was quite effective, and overall the episode was just incredibly creepy. The third episode was  jet episode that almost played like something out of True Grit, and the last episode was a sort of hilarious urban western that introduced a new bounty hunter named Andy that took the cowboy thing way too far. It was really funny.

The music and art direction of the show have remained fantastic. The abandoned theme park scenes in the second episode were just amazing looking, and in the urban western episode, they did a really great job of evoking the sort of melodies and themes you’d expect from an Ennio Morricone score in a Sergio Leone film like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. When I finally finish this show, I will be moving straight into Neon Genesis Evangelion. It will be interesting going from the fun of this show to the never ending depression of that other classic. Should be interesting.

Score in Progress: A+

I have to be at work at 10 in the morning tomorrow which means that I need to wake up at 9 at the latest which means that I should have gone to bed at 1. So, while I probably shouldn’t have stayed up at all to write this particular set of reviews, I’m going to do my best to keep this one short and sweet so as to get my stupid ass in bed as quickly as possible so that I’m not dragging my feet at work all day tomorrow. So, let’s head back once again to the Bebop and see what’s happened over the course of these last four episodes.

The first episode did a hell of a job explaining some of the back story of the mysterious Faye Valentine, and why she’s such a cold-hearted woman and con man and why the mob bosses at the casino thought she was like over 100 years old when we were first introduced to her. It was a fantastic episode with a nice romantic subplot that was given the great Cowboy Bebop treatment in how it was able to not play out exactly the way you’d think it would. The next episode gave us a decent look at Jet’s back story again and his time as a cop before he became a bounty hunter. The third episode is one of the series’ more infamous episodes and it involved our heroes tripping on magic mushrooms out on a desert planet. And it was hilarious. The final episode wasn’t as good as the other three but it also gave us another bit of a look at the story behind Faye, and also gave us some hilarious moments involving the lack of understanding by our heroes on the difference between a beta max player and a VCR. Funny stuff.

I’m well past the half-way point in the series and I’ve only got two discs of episodes left. It’s nice watching two anime series in a row that aren’t more than 30 episodes long. If I were reviewing the complete series of Dragon Ball Z, I would be reviewing that show for a good year or so since there’s like over 200 episodes. I’m glad I decided to re-watch Cowboy Bebop. I’ve been having a ton of fun jumping back into the series.

See you space cowboy

Score in Progress: A+

Well, yesterday the next two discs of Cowboy Bebop finally came in the mail from Netflix, and although I was definitely too tired from work yesterday to watch any, I wasted no time today diving right into that show. I’m spacing my reviews out for however many episodes were on each disc (whereas for Gurren Lagann I just reviewed every 4 episodes). The first two discs had 5 episodes a disc, however, these next two discs each have four on them, which is why I’ll be reviewing fewer episodes per article for these next two posts. Anyways, let’s jump back into the Bebop and follow the continuing adventures and trials of her intrepid crew.

This batch of episodes was pretty fantastic (although when isn’t this show) and once again exemplified the very broad array of themes and issues and styles that this show is willing to tackle. The first episode is probably the episode is that the most different from any episode I’ve watched so far as it is a sort of homage to the original Alien film and concerns a black blob that escaped from an old, old refrigerator in the back of the ship and stalks and preys on the crew of the Bebop. It was really odd and pretty awesome, but the show in no way, shape, or form tries to explain how its ending exists in the continuity of the series or makes any sense. The next two episodes were a two-parter telling one big story that brought back series big bad, Vicious (pictured above), and gave us a little more of a look into the back story and motivations of Spike. These two episodes, while not quite as good as episode 5, were still absolutely amazing and helped create even more of the deep back world for the series. The 4th episode dealt with a sort of a heist story but with that classic Cowboy Bebop twist and subversion of the genre.

I might be wrong, but I felt like this particular batch of episodes, especially the two parter, really upped the ante in the soundtrack department. I honestly can’t name a single TV show, anime or live-action, that has a consistently better soundtrack than Cowboy Bebop. The only thing that might even come close is Lost but it still trails this one. I’ve got one more disc to watch before I send them both back to Netflix. In all likelihood, I’ll finish that disc tonight and have one more review up before I head to bed for the evening.

See you space cowboy.

Score in Progress: A+

Unlike Gurren Lagann which had a general myth arc that progressed consecutively with each new episode, Cowboy Bebop is far more episodic in nature and while each new episode helps to contribute more and more to the general mythology and back story of the series, there is nothing that happened in this particular set of episodes that I feel the need to preface this with a spoiler alerts warning. You can read this and it won’t ruin anything so much that it would deter you from watching the series in the future.

These episodes once again showed the general range of genres that this show likes to take on. One episode was a sort of supernatural noir involving a young boy who possesses an immortal body and as has lived for hundreds of years. This episode also introduced the reason why humanity no longer has Earth as the central of our civilization. Another is sort of an homage to trucker films and feels like something very much out of Firefly. Honestly, whenever I watch this show, the first show that comes to my mind to make a comparison is Firefly, which is a very good thing since Firefly is one of my favorite shows. Another one is a return to the Japanese mafia roots, or the yakuza stuff to be more accurate, involving a fairly tragic and sad story about the lengths one man will go to protect his sister. We get the episode that introduces us to Ed, and how awesomely insane she is. She’s really just absolutely hilarious and provides the show with lots of much needed comic relief. And the last episode I watched gave us a little insight into the back-story of Jet. That’s one of the really great things about this show. The characters are fleshed out so well. They are much more than your typical anime caricatures.

One thing I really started to notice about the show during this round of episodes is how well the series makes use of the sort of “camera angles” (since this is a cartoon, the implied camera angles anyways) and and view-points that it employs that are so incredibly cinematic and artistic and the kind of thing you expect from high quality films and not a cartoon. You can tell that the people making the show have a real keen visual sense and style and that is prevalent through practically ever scene of the series.

Score in Progress: A+

In my very last review, I was just talking about how difficult it would be for me to determine who I thought was the greatest movie director of all time (or really for that matter, what film I think is the best film ever made). If you were to ask me what I thought the single greatest TV show ever made was though, that answer would be easy. It would be HBO’s The Wire. There aren’t any TV shows (or other pieces of fiction period) that compare to how simply fantastic that masterpiece is. My choice for the greatest anime of all time is pretty easy too, and it goes to 90’s classic and Adult Swim staple, Cowboy Bebop. It’s part space western, part film noir, part yakuza story, and 100% fun.

Cowboy Bebop is the story of Spike Spiegel, a “Cowboy” which is the show’s term for a bounty hunter. The show is set in the distant future where interplanetary travel has become a possibility thanks to “gates”. Spike serves on the Bebop, along side Jet Black, an ex-cop who is the even-headed thinker to Spike’s think-on-your-feet antics. While there is no denying that Spike is a veritable bad-ass and quite a capable martial-artist, let’s just say that he’s not the most successful bounty hunter on the planet, and his missions are very rarely successful. This rag-tag crew eventually grows to encompass Faye Valentine, a gorgeous con-woman who much like Gurren Lagann‘s Yoko is built of pure fan-service, Ein, a genetically enhanced dog of extraordinary intelligence, and Ed, the solar system’s greatest hacker despite being a 13 year old girl and who is also bat-shit insane and a cloud cuckoo lander of the highest order.

This show really has everything. I’ve seen it before, but in these first five episodes alone, you got humor, action, noir, western, space opera. The fifth episode itself is pretty much one of the single greatest episodes of anime that I’ve ever seen. You also can’t forget that this show has the best anime opening theme ever and one of the greatest TV theme songs ever period. I never fast-forward past the opening theme. Hell, the closing theme itself is pretty damn good too. This is one of the best scored TV shows you’re going to watch. It’s score is very jazz-oriented and consistently amazing. Also, I’ve watched this in Japanese and English and in terms of voice acting quality, they’re actually equal. It’s the only anime I can say that about. And actually, Steve Blum is a superior Spike than the Japanese equivalent. His performance is a master class in fine voice acting.

Simply put, this is just one of those anime shows that deserves every bit of recognition and accolades that it gets. A lot of the most popular anime (Dragonball Z, Naruto, Bleach) are super over-rated and not that great. However, there’s a reason why this is one of the most beloved anime of all time. This is actually one of the only anime that I can easily recommend to those people who don’t even like anime because of its mature story-telling, engaging characters, and tightly-woven plots. So, if you’ve somehow been living under a rock for the last 15 years and still haven’t gotten around to this all-time classic, you’ll be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t go out and watch this right now.

Score in Progress: A+