Special Anime Review – Cowboy Bebop

Before I dive in, I should let you know that I go through a lot of phases.  One of which was a Japanese phase.  That’s right, you are reading the words of the former Japanese Club Treasurer, then Vice-President, and finally President.  My crowning achievement?  The development of monthly anime nights.  Around this time Cartoon Network was running Toonami and Adult Swim – before it became Stoner Hour.  So I watched my fair share of anime.

Of course, a phase by its very nature is finite, and mine ended with high school.  It’s been years since I’ve watched an anime.  UNTIL NOW.

Because I just finished watching Cowboy Bebop.  And it.  Was.  Awesome.  Much like Firefly – although preceding it by five years – it is essentially a Western in space.  And while Firefly is technically listed as noir (at least by Wikipedia), Bebop is noir to a T.  Also unlike Firefly – which had a cast of nine – Bebop has just four characters.  Well, five if you count the dog, which you should.

So the show starts off with Spike Spiegel – a former member of the Red Dragon Syndicate – and Jet Black – former Mars Police Department – as bounty hunters (commonly referred to as Cowboys).  Let’s face it, the solar system is a big place, and the police can’t catch everyone.  So they outsource.  Over several episodes, Spike and Jet encounter the mysterious, beautiful, and devious Faye Valentine – a con artist with a gambling addiction and no memory of her past, and Ed – an androgynous, brilliant, and free-spirited hacker girl.  Along with their “Data Dog” Ein, the crew of the Bebop fly from planet to planet, moon to moon looking for one criminal or another, always trying to get the bounty of a lifetime.  Of course, they are doomed to fail and remain impoverished.

Over the course of the show, more and more is gradually revealed about the characters.  We find out about Jet’s past with the MPD, and his lost loves.  We see Faye’s troubled past and her quest to discover it.  And we re-live Spike’s sordid past with the mob.  We learn that they are all running – either from the past they know or the past they don’t – and all incredibly guarded.  But they all come to terms with their demons, and learn to accept each other as family.

This show is – frankly – amazing.  The voice acting is impeccable, the animation is well-done.  The action sequences are legit, and the music is fantastic.  The character growth is subtle and poignant.  Everything about it is wonderful, and I think a lot of people would like it if they could get past the anime stigma.

Definitely my favorite animated series, and probably in my Top Ten shows of all time.

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