Cowboy Bebop

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kamenoko's avatar By on Jul 17, 2007

Story

Many times have I visited Cowboy Bebop, and every time we've parted company I leave with a sense of how great a conversationalist Cowboy Bebop truly is. How it tells beautiful stories with nothing but ink, paint, computers, and sound. How it seems to transcend it's own media and become something unto itself. Nothing to be worshiped or canonized, but to be viewed with a measure of respect, and perhaps awe, that such a thing ever took place at all.

Cowboy Bebop, that's the story. There are cowboys and there is bebop, set against the backdrop of the future and space. The series concerns itself with the lives of Jet Black, Spike Spiegal, Faye Valentine, and Ed. The series itself tends to revolve around sorting out each characters past and reconciling it with their present selves. What sets Cowboy Bebop apart from similar series such as Outlaw Star is that these stories are actually interesting.


Animation

Animation directors strive for different goals. Some, like Hayou Miyazaki seek a balance between we humans and nature. The director of Ghost in the Shell, Mamoru Oshii forewarned us that advancement without restraint presented dillemas with no solutions. Shincihiro Wantanbe gave us, with Cowboy Bebop, twenty-six pictures of a world coming to terms with its past. The methods vary, with death, resignation, and an eyes wide shut attitude dominating. But never are these heady themes forced upon us with a heavy hand. They are at many times hidden behind sharp humor, attention to detail, and jaw dropping animation. Only two times are these themes truly brought to a head: at the twelfth and thirteenth episodes (parts one and two of Jupiter Jazz), and episodes twenty-five and twenty-six (parts one and two of The Real Folk Blues). And at these moments the music gets better, the animation sharper, and like true climactic moments, they stay with us long after we finish watching them.

For it's time, Cowboy Bebop was about as good as television animation got. The style was classically anime, big eyes no nose, small mouth. The fighting animation is very fluid and detailed. But what most impressed me about Cowboy Bebop's animation was the variety of locals, and the lived in natures of every environment that is visited. From the Bebop itself, with its endless rooms and corridors to variety of ethnic architecture, it is truly a treat to behold. The computer graphics are dated by today's standard, but for its time was cutting edge.


Sound

Never before or since has such a catalog of music been assembled for an anime, any anime. The principle creator of Cowboy Bebop's music, Yoko Kanno, took the high-road. She hopped from genre to genre in leaps and bounds while never taking from the animation itself, but infusing it with a pulse that at all times seemed perfect. Sometimes characters are defined through music, like Gren, whose sax playing pronounces him melancholy, disillusioned, and cavalier. Three original soundtracks were put together for this anime, each one is distinct and non-repetitious. Listening to them on their own gives you new appreciation on the quality of Yoko Kannos gift.


Characters

Characters from Cowboy Bebop each have stories to tell. Each deals with its past and present as best they can, although often times not very well at all. The plot is linear as far as the time line is concerned, but there isn't a penultimate goal sought after. In terms of the classic definitions of conflict, Cowboy Bebop tends towards the man versus himself, or man versus man types of conflict. The principles of Cowboy Bebop do not seek paradigm shifts, do not seek to change the world for the better or worse, but simply to live to see another day. This struggle to live on is what makes Cowboy Bebop so enjoyable, and what gives a humanity to the principle characters that they would otherwise lack.


Overall

The concept of Cowboy Bebop is not original, but its execution is outstanding. The characters are not original, but how they interact with the world around them is. The music can be defined by genre, but the impact on the individual cannot. The animation has been topped over the years, the cgi definitely shows its age, but there are still moments of raw beauty that are still unparalleled. Cowboy Bebop is not a rite of passage in anime fandom, but it should be a signpost, showing you the difference between the sublime and the ordinary.

9/10 story
8/10 animation
10/10 sound
8/10 characters
9/10 overall
Hachikira's avatar By on Aug 11, 2015

Whenever I've talked to a person about anime I've always wound up mentioning this series ...if ever there was a series I'd recommend to both newcomers and veterans alike its this one .    what truly makes this series shine is the cool atmosphere the story and most of all the characters .   In some ways this anime is utterly beautiful if anyone ever told me that anime wasn't an art form this is the series I'd use as an example of how wrong they are .  It's philosophical aspects are wonderful aswell and its certainly worth taking the time to watch it beginning to end because it undoubtibly has one of the most memorable endings in anime I've ever seen.

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
chrono9665's avatar By on Apr 7, 2015

Story: 2 bounty hunters, a woman gambler, a young female hacker, and a genius dog,  travel through space hunting down criminals for their bounties while Bebop/jazz/and rocknroll play in the background. Amazingly, as awesome as that sounds its actually a million times more awesome than that. Each episode is a self contained story that has the characters hunting down the bounty of the week. While that may seem like there is very little plot, in reality the continuity between episodes, the occasional strong expositional episode, coupled with amazing character development culminates in a beautiful and amazing finale that will leave you in tears. No seriously, I cried like a baby, Im still not ok.

Animation: Superb, even by today's standards its still freaking superb. There are moments when Spike goes all bruce lee that you will find yourself mesmerized. The fight scenes, space scenes, and floating no gravity scenes are all well juxtaposed, and spewing with old style artistry. Some of the planet out pans are stunning. The opening sequence is dripping with artistry, even the goddamn way smoke leaves a cigarette on this show is hypnotizing. Some of the most beautiful moments are when the characters are just walking through a crowd or just standing around. Its amazing and some of the moments will just plain stick in you head.

Sound: Here is where the show really shines. Is sidesteps all the shitty ambient cliche atonal elevator music the quite frankly pervades anime like laughtracks in sitcoms. Instead each moment is packed with perfect soundtracks the highlight the moment, and occasionally you will even get singing, something that I have never heard in an anime soundtrack just in the background. the music itself is unique, often bebop or jazz, and most importantly amazing. You will literally be humming or outright singing the opening and closing sequences decades later, seriously decades, they are so memorable and recoganizable that you can identify them after just a few notes when your upstairs neighbor turns on adult swim at midnight on a wednesday night.

Characters: You will fall in love with every single one of the main characters, decades later they will decorate your computer wallpapers, walls, shirts, mugs and whathaveyous, with out the slightest inkling of irony or regret. Each one of them starts out a bit cliche, all flash and pazzaz, by the end though they will capture your heart. They are all seriously three dimensional characters with stunning depth. this level of character development would be more at place in say Evangelion or DeathNote, but, it works marvelously here and you will find yourself rooting for them. You will also grow to love several side characters including laughing Bull, and punch and judy, and several of the 'bounty of the week' characters. I have never found myself more terrified of a 'throw-away' villian as I was of Mad Peirrot. I would also set fire to Vicious if I could. the bounties are always unique and captivating in their own way and several of them are downright creepy. The main characters are the real draw here, and I invite you to give them serious consideration.

Overall: Seriously, what are you doing still reading this? Go watch it, no really, go watch it NOW!

10/10 story
10/10 animation
10/10 sound
10/10 characters
10/10 overall
Ladieburd's avatar By on Oct 26, 2009

There has been a lot of buzz about Cowboy Bebop - from those who have seen it and those who have yet to see it. While it is an older anime (1998), it has an everlasting appeal to both fans of anime and those who don't like anime. Bebop has a little bit of something for everyone, which may account for its popularity. The storyline, characters, and music all add up for one of the best adventures in anime.

The Story

Set in 2071, Bebop focuses around four characters: Jet Black, an ex-ISSP officer; Spike Speigel, a cowboy out for adventure and revenge; Faye Valentine, a woman with no past; and Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (Ed), a child hacker from Earth. Also accompanying the group is Ein, a Welsh Corgi who is more than just a dog. These four 'cowboys' as they are commonly referred to travel the galaxy in search of bounties to fill their forever empty pockets and stomachs. Each 'session' as the episodes are called, focus primarily on one bounty or the past of one of the characters. There are a few episodes that don't really follow the story line, but they serve to lighten the mood of this otherwise tragic anime.

Grade: A. The characters are likeable and the story reaches a logical conclusion and leaves no loose ends.

The Art

Bebop's art does not necessarily stand out from that of other anime, but in comparisson to others (Rurouni Kenshin and Inuyasha for example, have a more free-flowing art style), the art work is comparably clean, but not wholly overly realistic. Bebop is well-drawn and mapped, leaving no room for gaps or criticisms, particularly in an anime which contains a majority of fight scenes (mostly involving guns and explosions). It demonstrates a happy medium between realistic and 'cartoony' animes.

Grade: A. Everyone likes a unique style of art, but this is something everyone can enjoy.

The Music

The music for Bebop plays homage to its title, using free-flowing Jazz, Bebop, Blues, and Classical melodies in perfect harmony. The fights are well timed in regards to the music as well. Even those who do not appreciate Jazz will find Bebop's melodies fun and addictive, particularly in regards to the opening theme "Tank!". It's definitely a soundtrack worth owning, particularly if you enjoy GOOD Jazz music.

Grade: A. Good Jazz is making a clean comeback.

Overall

Grade: A

While the anime can be depressing, it posesses enough charisma to keep viewers enthralled in its magic. As action animes go, the art is well done and the fights are prefectly coreographed to the music. It's a great starter anime for those who want to try and get into the anime circle because of its appeal to both anime and non-anime fans. There is also a stand alone movie, which I also recommend.

Happy Watching!

10/10 story
9/10 animation
10/10 sound
9/10 characters
10/10 overall
crazyworld's avatar By on Jul 9, 2015

Well, after finally watching this I see why people like it. It has a rather colorful tone without getting too cliche and cheery and it's lead Spike Spiegel is rather charismatic and likable. That being said the series still has some flaws. Let's start with the other characters. Most of them aren't really that interesting and sometimes seem to hinder the show's progress. Some episodes are rather sketchy (episodes 10 and 18 for example) and seem to bind the plot down with unresolved past problems and mawkish sentimentality. And there are a few instances where Spike holds his breath in space (not possible). So it's not the perfect anime many make it out to be, but it is still enjoyable if you want a nice relaxed anime where everything feels so calm and colorful.

If you can tolerate the flaws this anime is for you, but if you can't then you probably won't find this to be that interesting.

8/10 story
8/10 animation
8.5/10 sound
7/10 characters
7.9/10 overall