Welcome to First Time Classics. I am Krakken_Unleashed, resident newbie Otaku, and blog writer. First Time Classics is a recurring series where I find well respected, liked or important Anime of the past, watch them as a first time viewer, and write about the experience. This is not a review, but an ongoing impressions piece which I update periodically throughout my first viewing. My hope is that through this series, you, my readers, may take a fresh look at shows you first saw ages ago, or find shows you have otherwise missed in your Anime watching careers.
This time we have what may be one of the monoliths of Anime (at least this side of the pacific) The space cowboy epic Cowboy Bebop. This has been one of the few apparent must-watches that I’ve been quite hyped to get started.
What I Know Going In:
- This is a landmark Anime from the Director Shinichirō Watanabe with music from Yoko Kanno, both I’ve heard almost universal praise for, for their work in this anime especially.
- I know the english dub was one of the most well praised ever, with it being considered as good as if not better than the Japanese original.
- I know its about space cowboys… and that’s about it.
- oh and the movie takes place on Halloween, somewhere in the later half of the series (I will cover the movie after the series)
So without further ado, lets get ourselves some space bounties!
Space: The Wild Frontier... Episodes 1-6
These First 6 Episodes are an interesting bunch, I took a liking to this show almost right away, the art, the style, and the sound are superb. I’m getting a real kick out of the animation here, its great, and the show has a wonderful amount of detail everywhere. The music is just great... a varied and interesting collection that’s just inspiring. It’s like Spike, cool, awesome, somber, excitable, if not exactly all that subtle most of the time.
And while I’m on more technical aspects... That Dub... man they weren’t lying when they said the Dub was good. Now I haven’t actually tried the Japanese original, but that English is damn amazing. You could have fooled me into thinking this was originally an English show, from the quality of their work here. The amount of nuance, and range these actors give is awe inspiring.
Now to the actual show. Those first 4 episodes were a nice breaking in to the show, a few cool one off adventures that slowly introduces the first 4 members of the Bebop crew, or rather the first 3 and a Dog. They were entertaining and fun, but then episodes 5 and 6 hit, and suddenly the entire show’s a lot more serious, and frankly just all the more awesome. The dark grimness of those last 2 episodes was a bit of a revelation, and I am ready to watch a whole lot more of this collection of fun adventures and moody drama.
A Genre All Its Own - Episodes 7-13
Its kind of funny how I post these updates, as the set of episodes 7-13 are structurally similar to the episodes 1-6. You start with a couple one-off fun adventures, have a mildly serious and poignant episode in the middle , and then end with a couple dark, heavy and dramatic episodes which likely where Vicious shows up.
Anyways besides the oddly similar episode pacing, this new set of episodes were fun. And we actually see them capture some bounties... for real this time! Yes! anyways Heavy Metal Queen was an explosive ride, and it’s kind of cool to see just how varied the soundtrack for this show actually is. Then we finally meet Edward, and Ed well... she’s a bundle of hyperactive fun, though she seems to be little else at the moment. I really hope she gets a chance to be dramatically significant latter as right now she’s more or less the Bebop’s second dog. Which while is okay for a couple of gags, but I really hope the writers make something of her by the end. (not that I worried, just in the rare case they don’t I’ll be disappointed.)
The dramatic episodes are lovely, and really well done. The emotional range this show is able to pull off is great, and leaves me guessing as to what kind of episodes I’m gonna find coming up, which frankly I think is awesome. This series seems to be on a great track, and so far is living up to my expectations. Which is what I’d hope for considering how high many people rank this show.
Relics Of A Bygone Age… Episodes 14-19
Yeah more backstory! Really I’m finding it hard to find a lot more things to say in this update, as the episodes continue to be consistently great, and fun. Though this last bunch had a bunch of backstory woven into these episodes, from Faye’s background to Jet’s arm and even the origins of Spike’s personal ship. Even the one episode with the chess master explored the creation of the hyperspace gates, which are actually a pretty fascinating system all around. Probably the only episode that wasn’t notable for backstory was Mushroom Samba, which was fun in its own right and finally gave Ed an episode to herself. I still want some more backstory/drama for her, but at least some decent screen time is nice.
Also I found it hilarious how they start bringing in old guns, space shuttles and video cassettes. I mean some of those are old even by today’s standard, which makes the joke somewhat more ironic than when they first made the joke. (At least I grew up on VHS myself, unlike others younger than myself who might not have had them)
Oh and the music continues in its excellence and varied styles. Its almost surprising how different tonally and musically this show can be and still feel cohesive, but that’s a large part of its charm, which still hasn’t dulled for me yet!
The Real Folk Blues... Episodes 20-26
Damn that was one fine ending to a great series... Any ways this update’s about more than just the ending here, but yeah, great ending.
So yeah we have these final few episodes, some of which were some of the most out-there premises in the series perhaps. Pierrot Le Fou had an almost Batman TAS vibe (I mean the colour palette and a villain that looked like a bearded Penguin... yeah I made the comparison) which was interesting and fun. Cowboy Funk was entertaining, and Brain Scratch’s premise was comically similar (at least to me) to SAO which gave me a good laugh, though the episode itself was interesting, especially with the opening moments being a short film made of TV Channel footage. Really cool idea there guys.
Then we hit the final three episodes. Hard Luck Woman was nice, but that ending with Fey, Ed and Ein’s departure was just heartbreaking, and actually got me to shed a tear, which I take with a sense of pride, believing the team behind it knew what they were doing. And yes, that one point about me wanting some more backstory for Ed I think got addressed which was good to see.
Then that ending, which well, felt like one of those, “it was inevitable, it had to end this way” endings, and frankly it was pitched quite well. It was a fitting ending and a great way to wrap up the series as a complete whole. I almost couldn’t ask for anything more, except maybe to know how Jet and Faye are doing now. But I digress. The TV Series was a blast, and a wonderful collection of stories, which exceptionally good deliverings episode to episode, with few, if any duds among them. Now all that’s left is to watch the final piece: Cowboy Bebop: the Movie- Knocking on Heaven’s Door!
Flight of the Butterflies... Cowboy Bebop: The Movie - Knocking on Heaven’s Door
Yeah! Even More Bebop! After finishing the series just yesterday, it was nice to wake up this morning and have more Bebop. Because frankly if there was one type of ending that Bebop could have ended on, it’s “The Adventure Continues” ending, so having more Bebop was just fine by me.
The movie itself was fine, plenty of action, a great villain and some nice slower moments really made this movie a good lengthy adventure. If I had one complaint it might be that the one plane battle was kind of long, and slightly unnecessary, but it at least looked good. Actually the whole movie looked really good, much more noticeably the “cinematic” Bebop as opposed to say End of Eva, which felt like 2 higher budget episodes.
The other point I noticed was that this movie was noticeably grounded, with much of the action taking place in a city that could have easily been on some modern-ish earth city, instead of you know Mars. It just seemed the space and sci-fi aspects were sort of toned down slightly for this one.
However looking at the film, it seemed to me that I could also easily show it to people who hadn’t the series, and they could still follow along well. I will have to remember that if I get to chance to show some people Anime in the future. though It also means that story wise, its not necessary viewing, though most of the series was like that anyways, and that was never Bebop’s focus. So having the Movie be just another adventure actually fits a whole lot better than say some other Movies set in TV series, because A) most of those other series have more thoroughly embedded overarching plots which makes tie in Movies feel ever the more superfluous, and B) Bebop felt like a collection of mini-TV movies to begin with, so a real movie fits in really well stylistically.
So now That I’ve completed Bebop, was it worth it’s classic status? I think it did, It certainly was great fun, had a wonderful English dub, and was eclectic collection of music, movie styles, and story genres. It was a great achievement, even if I might not be quite as blown away as some who watched this show back when it was released. However it is a classic that I think still holds up marvelously to modern viewing, which is always good (cause frankly sometimes you go to “classics” and fine them just dated and uninteresting, which is not great). It was a great experience, and one I’m certain I’ll champion for others to watch from here on out.
See You Space Cowboy...
To commentors: I humbly ask that you
Refrain from Spoilers Spoil Away, With this post complete feel free to talk about the series to your heart’s content.