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Torkuitsu's In Depth Reviews: Cowboy Bebop
First off let me say, I am heavy into anime. These reviews are going to pretty in depth, or as far in depth as I can go until I start majorly spoiling. That being said, I will make my best attempts at keeping them minor or absent all together.
"Everything has a beginning and an end. Life is just a cycle of starts and stops. There are ends we don't desire, but they're inevitable, we have to face them. It's what being human is all about."
I first watched Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's door a 5 years back and felt genuinely engaged throughout the movie and regretted that it had to end. I had absolutely no idea there was a fantastic piece of artwork in the form of an anime series behind this titular film. Ironically, as I watched Cowboy Bebop I found myself humbly involved with the series to the point that I would pause between episodes to really soak in this fantastic show. It is a genre in itself and never insists that it is. It is a fantastic chronicle of people experiencing an extraordinary lifestyle, but also dealing with the normal challenges life brings. This series was dedicated to those special moments in your life when you say to yourself in the back of your mind "this is worth it, this is me embracing the timeless shadows of life". Of course these feelings are fleeting, which only makes them more cherishable, much like the brief run of this spectacular series.
The series takes place in the future. Earth has been plagued by freak technological accident and much of the population has expanded to the various planets in the solar system. Each planet is like a whole other world, which are slightly expanded upon during each adventure for the crew of the bebop. The bebop first has only Jet and Spike, bounty hunters looking for work only so they can fill their stomachs. Jet comes from a policing background, which has given him a reputation as the "black dog" who never releases his bite on a case. This gives him a sense of authority and father like actualities throughout the series. His partner, and the main character, Spike, comes from a mysterious past with ties to a crime syndicate known as the Red Dragon. He has since pulled out of the syndicate after realizing that it didn't make him "alive". He plans to be with his true love Julia, but circumstances arise between him and his long time rival Vicious, the only recurring antagonist of the series. As such, Jet and Spike get along well with one another since they are both trying to look ahead instead of behind. As they continue their journeys they meet various people during missions who seem to encapsulate various life experiences in their characters. Love, anguish, betrayal, obsession, loneliness, if only to name a few. Its as if the bounty is only the outer coating to much more involved lessons which are shown through the most subtle of gestures, much like in the real world, where it is hard to really know if something has impacted you until its over Jet and Spike soon meet Faye and Ed, two girls with mysterious pasts. Faye gradually learns of her past albeit at the end of the series at which point she lets down her guard to realize her true home is on the bebop. Ed presents herself as a zainy hacking genius, but she also has ties with her estranged father, which has caused her to wander frequently. WIth the ship's local canine Ein, Ed often makes ideas more clear to viewers through her childlike comedy by shouting them out is crazy ways. All four of these crew members embark on a series of encounters with various bounties. The story is moving on all levels, and remained the least bit contrived throughout, The great thing was the combination of most genres. There was not set plot or motif, which made all of the action and humor more engaging. The viewer is made to care about each exploit because they don't know what to expect on a structural level, but are still able to take tide and true knowledge with them after each stint.
The animation for the series was clearly defined and realistic, with each character being drawn in a way to reveal their personalities on a physical level. Jet is older, more experienced, with receding hair and armor to match. Spike is spontaneous and subtle at the same time, with wild hair and an ironically neat suit to match it. Faye is sexually involving but tough as nails. She is stubborn and selfish, enhanced by the look of her wardrobe. Ed's clothing is enhanced by her unpredictability. You don't really know what to think of her clothing since their it is so basic and childlike. This simplicity allows Ed to be more astonishing. This pattern of art is seen throughout the character spectrum. All of the worlds are their own and match their tones. Just awesome.
The music for the series was absolutely insane. Each episode is known as a session and essentially the series is rooted from music itself. Every encounter has a soundtrack that enhances the feelings being portrayed in the episode. If its metal, its probably a tense situation, if its jazz, past regrets are being felt, if its classical, love is expressed. This coupled with the beautiful art only makes the story more impacting on a whole other level!??! The whole spectrum of this anime is seen with these combinations of sound and art! Also, each episode title refers to the type of music played throughout.
The characters in this series are the enjoyment factor. The crew of the bebop is so subtle with their affections that it seems like they've been a family for years. At times they don't even care about what the other is doing because it seems vindictive but the subtext is that they do care...so much so that they don't because they know thats just who the other person is. Its a whole other realm of trust that is so true in real life. Like I said earlier, if you couple the family crew of the bebop with influential characters on different worlds with their own messages, it makes it seem like the family learns something together, which makes the viewer learn something from four different angles. All of their actin and humor towards their bounty targets and eachother is hilarious and touching, and just pure entertainment.
I will never regret the time I spent watching, learning, and ultimately living from Cowboy Bebop.
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