Archive | 1:00 pm

Show of the Day: Cowboy Bebop

4 Nov

As people who actually know anything anime go, I don’t really know very much at all.  As people who know nothing about anime go, I know a relatively fair amount.  I watched very little until I was in college, only a little bit of what was on Cartoon Network’s Toonami or Adult Swim, mostly Dragonball Z.  I started watching it when it turned out a good number of my college friends were high ups in our school’s anime club.  I never got into it the way the most devoted club members were, but every once in a while a show would come along that captivated me, and I would download it and watch the rest.

Anime, unsurpsingly to me, is like most television.  There’s a lot of it, some of it is bad, most of it is mediocre, and some of it is very good.  That said, some of it is easier to get into for people who aren’t into anime or even animation than others.  Some are more approachable series for novices to dip their toes in the japanimated water.

If there’s one series that from my limited anime experience, but my ability to appreciate learning to become an anime fan, would serve as a good opening note, it’s Cowboy Bebop.  Many animes have a limited number of episodes, which makes for relatively easy viewing, and Cowboy Bebop has a mere 26 (of course, some, like Dragonball Z with 291, are the exact opposite).  It’s a space western, in the spirit of shows like Firefly (which it preceded), which is basically what it sounds like – a show with a western feel in terms of wide open spaces and lawlessness but set, well, in space.  It’s only loosely serial as  most episodes stand on their own, with the exception of a few at the beginning and the end and a couple in between.  It aired in 1998-99 and features four main characters, two bounty hunters, Spike and Jet who travel around space on missions, and Faye, an attractive gambling addict and fugitive, and Ed, a young computer hacker girl, who join the ship later.

Cowboy Bebop is an action adventure show, and the plots are accessible and interesting, with a mix of comedy, action and drama.  Generally each episode features the gang trying to capture one bounty, complete with pratfalls and dangers along the way.  The major on-going plot involves Spike and his relationship with his ex-Crime Syndicate partner Vicious (yeah, that name should probably be a sign you’re not dealing with somebody great).  The animation style is relatively similar to American animation for an anime.  This is largely not coincidence, as the style is geared towards looking distinctly American, though a bit old-timey, with a 1940s and ‘50s film noir feel.  The theme sequence, displayed below, is also fantastic and has received praise on its own regard.

As someone who hasn’t watched an anime series almost since college, I shouldn’t really be advocating anything to do with anime, but one of the benefits of this blog is that I’ve pored over lots of TV I’ve watched over the years and put aside, remembering some shows I haven’t thought about in years but loved.  I’ve also tried out new TV I probably wouldn’t have given a chance before.  Basically, if you’ve never given anime a chance and you’re at least ever so slightly interested, Cowboy Bebop is a very good way to go.