Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Two

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Two: Cowboy Bebop

Anime typically falls into two categories: anime that exists to run as long as possible, and anime that tells one concise story. The former are often fun and entertaining, but it is the latter that are important. That matter. Neon Genesis Evangelion is a deconstruction of the mecha genre, with religious overtones and existential philosophy. Ghost in the Shell examines humanity in a world where people are functionally immortal and customizable, and asks questions about the nature of the soul. Cowboy Bepop is another one of these such animes.

Cowboy Bepop takes place in the year 2071, where mankind has spread throughout the solar system. As a result, law enforcement is spread too thin, and outsources to bounty hunters, commonly referred to as “Cowboys.” The Bebop is a ship of two Cowboys – Spike Spiegel and Jet Black. Jet is a former cop, and Spike a retired hitman for the mob. Along the way they meet Faye Valentine, a beautiful con artist with a mysterious past, as well as Edward – a genius girl with a father who has disappeared. Hijinks ensue, and the unlikely crew becomes an unlikely family. Fortunes are nearly made and always lost. People leave. Mysteries surface, and others are answered. Over the course of 26 episodes, we share their ups, and their downs. We discover Faye’s tragic (and it is like… Fantine levels of tragic) past. We see the history between Spike and mob boss Vicious play out, and watch the quest to find his missing true love, Julia. We learn about Jet’s former life as a cop, and the circumstances under which he left. We meet Ed’s dad, and find out what happened to the Earth.

Now, I’m not going to give away the ending, but I will tell you it is one of the single best finales of any TV show I have ever seen. Not to over-sell it or anything. But there’s a really great message about redemption, about love overcoming all obstacles, about family forming out of unlikely groups. It’s a story about breaking the chains of the past and embracing the present. There’s definitely tragedy present in the story, but that just serves to make it all the more beautiful.

I challenge you all to watch it, even if you don’t typically like anime. I promise that it isn’t just power-ups and fighting and transformation sequences like some anime. There is a real depth and substance here that rivals most American television, never mind cartoons. And I challenge you to watch the episode that reveals Faye’s past, or the finale, without crying.

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One Response to Thirty Days of Feelings: Day Two

  1. matt says:

    Loving this series, Ian. Cowboy Bebop is one of my favorites. I’m excited to read the rest!

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