Friday, October 12, 2001

Cowboy Bebop

Genre: Sci-Fi / Space Adventure
Parental Guidance Recommended
1998-1999. Hajime Yadate (Creator). Shinichiro Watanabe (Director). Sunrise. Bones. Bandai Visual.

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Cover Description:
Meet Spike and Jet, a drifter and a retired cyborg cop who have started a bounty hunting operation. In the converted ship The Bebop, Spike and Jet search the galaxy for criminals with bounties on their heads. They meet a lot of unusual characters, including the unusually intelligent dog, Ein, and the voluptuous and vexing femme fatale, Faye Valentine. See why Cowboy Bebop was Japan's best-selling anime title in 1998.

(27 sessions)

Defines itself a new genre so you better go see it! >>> by firesenshi

Together on board the ship called the Bebop, built by bounty hunter Jet Black, is his partner Spike Spiegel, an easy going guy with nothing to lose, himself a bounty hunter and well adept in jeet kune do. Things work out between them until one of their projects include a dog called Ein and a young genius hacker called Edward. Then there's Faye Valentine, a sultry independent and money-hungry woman who also had a bounty on her head and a misty past that concerns her real age. Spike himself is not sure how these three became part of the now mismatched crew aboard the Bebop. But aside from encountering shady fugitives, he and Jet Black have to deal with their own shady past - a past that includes women troubles...

Admittedly at first I thought I won't enjoy this. I just wanted to see what the fuss is all about until I found myself extremely addicted to Shinichiro Watanabe's work. He is a visionary and he has pushed anime against its normal convention while at the same time retaining various good aspects of anime such as the mecha design and comedy. You'll see that Cowboy Bebop has its own distinct flavor in it. Let's say you put a Western in a futuristic setting where bar room brawls occur in jazz bars and horse chases are replaced by bounty hunters pursuing fugitives in space ships. By that, let me just pause and say: WOW. What a great concept.

Unlike most space adventure anime however, such as Lost Universe, Outlaw Star or Angel Links where the action is most definitely defined by certain turn of events where you know that a confrontation will automatically mean action, the pacing here is like its icon character Spike Spiegel - easy going, suave, unpredictable and ultimately kick-ass. Speaking of Spike, he is the actual reason why I really watch this film. Hey, I'm a girl and I enjoy bishounen. I'm sure most male fans cannot get enough of sexy, street-smart Faye Valentine herself! Spike is amazing. He's funny, clever, mysterious, has some sense of feigning indifference and knows jeet kune do. I just love him. In fact, the character design is the best here. No, Spike is not the lead character. There are four of them as in your opening credits and the sessions devote equal attention to all of them so that none is too overrated and you have enough time to discover what's really behind all of them. Yes, even if you think the kid hacker Edward is somewhat... "mouldy", that kid is quite likeable!

Oh. After all that flash in the action has stunned your eyes, there comes the drama. The ironies in their character revelations are the best part. As for the animation, from the opening credits that render silhouette shadowy looks combining the '60s jazz LP covers and minimalist 2000 Japanese CD covers of today, are you kidding? WOW. I wish I could design my Flash pages like those. The scenes even have some few CG effects which are perfectly mixed with the animation. (But these are few, such as a spaceship entering a planet's air field.) Soundtrack is by Yoko Kanno. GREAT sound. If you know what's good for you, you'd get it.

However don't expect this to be a feel-good anime. It certainly mixes a lot of emotions in every episode. The scenarios are always realistic that you think it could be a good concept in real film. Cowboy Bebop is totally engaging but I must warn you not to get attached to any character too much.

Dub Notes: This is one of the few anime that I actually don't mind the dub. There are no Japanese terms here that have no English equivalent nor are there cultural specific jokes that can't be translated in the nuances. It's because the setting is in neutral arena in space where the characters are even born in other planets! (Spike was born in Mars.) And because of the cowboy, fugitive, thug elements, I often wonder how they would sound in Western accent although I must admit I missed Koichi Yamadera's portrayal of Spike. Megumi Hayashibara is Faye Valentine. (She did a fair rendition in my opinion.) But sure enough, if you wish to see this in dub, DO NOT HESITATE. It was faithful and the voice acting was satisfactory.

Individual Rating: Art/Animation 10; Story 8; Characters 10; Sounds 9

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