Saturday, December 19, 2015

Let's Review! Cowboy Bebop

Hello! And it is time for one more Anime Review. I am about to review one of the most classic Anime shows of all time... Cowboy Bebop! It is based off the manga created by Cain Kuga of the same name. The series is directed by Shinchiro Watanabe from the studio Sunrise. Yes it's the same studio that created the beloved Gundam series, Cyborg 009, Inuyasha, Code Geass, and..... Voltes V. So it's safe to say they are experts of the Mecha series, hence Cowboy Bebop is a Mecha Anime. Hahahahahaha. Nope. It's so much more than that.

Okay let me break it down for you; it’s a story about bounty hunters failing at being bounty hunters and in spite of this struggle, they still try to do everything in order to live in the Solar System. Oh, and they may also have to confront with their inner struggles and issues too.

The storyline isn’t like the usual anime that we would normally see nowadays. Each episode has a unique story and they all seem quite independent of one another. Since it is the anime of the good old days, you don’t have to expect that everything in each episode to connect. It reminds me of one of those cartoons I would look forward to every Saturday morning when I was a kid. Of course, there will be two-episode arcs here and there to make the anime look exciting, but that’s just it. And no worries, each episode is thrilling and epic. The action scenes are all very creative and I can tell the creator pulled up a few Bruce Lee inspirations for Spike’s fighting moves. I even further researched the anime to see the hidden tones and messages they were trying to portray, and I was completely mind-blown because everything about the anime was apparently philosophical. Like, I can imagine this Anime being featured in an English class and the professor will be like, "Okay, class. Analyze what this show is trying to express and write a paper on it.". It's that kind of Anime. And yes, the anime has its own whimsical and touching moments, especially when it gets down and deep with exploring the characters. But I think that’s where they faltered a bit.

The characters have interesting backstories, and I like how it drives a certain episode to the edge. Not only that, each of their stories have a weight. However, I thought their stories could’ve been explored a bit more. Spike’s story had the most dominance in the anime, and his past with the syndicate was just compelling. I appreciate how the story still maintains its mysterious ambience, but it became too mysterious and not only that. the conclusions to these backstories end up getting a bit rushed. Apart from that minor issue, I thought the storytelling was great and compelling.
The setting for the Anime is very sci-fi and I can see why it attracted a lot of Westerners. I can see a lot of similarities of this anime and our current Western Sci-fi films, books, and series. In the world of Cowboy Bebop (which takes places in the year 2071), you can live in any planet or moon on the Solar System because the Earth is no longer a good place to live in (*looks at a certain Pixar film that had that kind of premise*). Surely when this Anime was released during its time, the sci-fi ideas shown here were genius and mind-blowing. I like how society in this Anime has somehow made many planets habitable. For example, there is an episode where they arrived in Venus and most of the characters there mentioned many health-related concerns because Venus was still toxic to live in and the place was not for everyone. And in this anime, the most ideal place to live in was Mars (well what do you know). Also, if Sci-fi concepts are not enough for you, there are a few gangster and detective themes to enjoy, too. Everything that is considered epic in film and series are all mixed into one series. On top of that, I like how the way of life was still very mundane, in spite of the major changes and technological advancements. I think the setting is my favorite part of the Anime of all.

The driving forces of Cowboy Bebop are not the plot twists or the cliffhangers, but the characters. They are just so enticing to look at. We have Spike, who is obviously the main guy of the group. He decided to become a bounty hunter because he thought it was his best way to move on from his dark past, where he almost a had near-death experience. There is Jet, who owns the ship called The Bebop, and he handles the mechanics and also the cooking. He used to be a cop, but an accident caused him to quit the police force. Then there’s Faye Valentine, a gambler who is just trying to find ways to have a life. We have Ed, a wandering little girl who is also an excellent hacker. And finally we have Ein, the most adorable Welsh Corgi I have ever seen.

These characters are so different from each other that the story kinda shows that they’re not going to end up as a full-coordinating squad. Because all these characters want is to have enough money, so each and every one of them have their own selfish desires and this makes it almost impossible for them to be a team. I think they are the most realistic characters I have ever seen in an anime, so far. They keep their own issues to themselves and they solve their problems by themselves. They completely dodged the “we are a squad so we share our feelings together” cliché, and this is my second favorite part of this anime. For these characters, it is every man for himself, but at the same time, they are not completely made out of stone and they slowly develop compassion towards each other. I like how this Anime dealt with the sense of belongingness. Like it is something that you actually want, but it is something that you will not easily admit. And it totally makes sense to have that kind of inner struggle, considering the environment they are in. They are all in space, trying to make the most of their lives and the last thing they want is for everyone to know that they’re vulnerable. That alone, can make you feel for them as if they are real people already.


Now the music is mostly a mix of Jazz and Country, and with a little bit of rock. The opening of this Anime has the Sherlock vibe to me, maybe because I usually associate Sleuths with Jazz music. But then you remember they are bounty hunters, which is something Cowboys in the wild wild west would do. Now this anime manages to combine the two and create a very unusual soundtrack.


The art of this anime is really good. The ships and the look of space is very well-drawn, considering its time. And I love how the random people they encounter in the story are not lazily drawn in a way that most of them have similar features. They are all very distinct, because the anime considers not just one race, but every race. You will see people of Cherokee descent, African Americans, the typical White American, the Chinese, and many more, all drawn with their distinctive looks. The effort put into this Anime is just incredible, because they don’t put all the details into their ships and main characters, but to everything. The way the other planets look during civilizations, the way some planets look after certain natural disasters, the way Earth looks like probably 60 years from now, nothing is glossed over. It is drawn in a way where my eyes were looking at almost everything because everything is portrayed in realistic details.

This hands-down the most realistic anime I’ve seen, and it is even in the Sci-fi category.  It's Star Wars meets Sherlock meets The Godfather meets A Chinese Martial Arts film by Jackie Chan meets A Million Ways to Die in the West. The characters are just so compelling and almost relatable, the storytelling is great in spite of a few run-overs, and the art is even realistic. I will give this anime a complete set of five eggs. I am proud to say this anime is Sunny-side certified. 

If you’re into Star Wars, Star Trek, or anything that is Sci-fi, I personally recommend Cowboy Bebop, especially if you are about to try Anime for the first time. It is definitely a classic. It doesn’t really contain any interesting outlandish galactic uniforms or lightsabers, but these characters all have interesting stories to tell.

And that is it for my last Anime review for the year! Expect my next Egg Tray segment to be filled with Sci-fi and anime stuff, because I’ve been into a lot of that recently. But that will not be my next blog post. My last blog post will be posted before the end of 2015 and I assure you it will be an interesting read. Till the next post~ Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all~

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