Anime Review: “Cowboy Bebop”: An Anime Rollercoaster

Written by Alex Bowman September 21, 2012

Being a pasty white Canadian kid from the suburbs, I have recently found a growing interest in anime and I try my hardest to get other fellow Canucks into anime with the same gusto that I have. Now to be fair, anime can be a very intimidating thing; not knowing where to start can leave you lost and confused. Well, don’t feel too intimidated because “Cowboy Bebop” is the show for you; a series that both fans and non fans of anime can enjoy, which also acts as a good stepping stone for those of you wanting to try out anime for the first time.

The Meat and Potatoes

The story for “Cowboy Bebop” follows as such; in 2071 space travel exists at the cost of turning planet Earth into a shithole.  Humanity is forced to inhabit any space of land they can conquer in the Solar System and this causes crime to be much more rampant and unchecked. Cowboys (i.e. bounty hunters) are tasked with trying to maintain stability in the system.

Our story revolves around a group of bounty hunters (Spike Speigel, loveable anti hero and ex-mob enforcer, Jet Black, ex-cop and resident father figure, Faye Valentine, con artist femme fatale who suffers from amnesia, Edward, the hyper-active teenage hacker and technological genius, and Ein, a “data-dog” and resident mascot) on the good ship Bebop as they try to make their living from one paycheck to the next.

One Big Dysfunctional Family

What Makes This Anime So Great

This anime is amazing for a lot of reasons. If you just want to sit around and watch sci-fi action and adventure with some really good jokes sprinkled in for good measure then you will find this show very enjoyable. However, if you would like to explore your inner Sartre, then this show will also appeal to you because it competently tackles big philosophical themes regarding existentialism, ennui, and loneliness. If you are a film buff then this show will be your wet dream; certain episodes pay homage to films like “Desperado”, “Bruce Lee’s Game of Death”, “Alien”, “2001: A Space Odyssey”, “Taxi Driver”, and “Jackie Brown”. For the sci-fi crowd the technology may feel very anachronistic at times but it is animated in a way that it feels very gritty and organic, which adds a touch of realism to the world of the show. The atmosphere feels very similar to films like “Blade Runner” and “Total Recall”, a myriad of different races and cultures mixed together in a universe where the main goal is survival of the fittest.

The Western theme also plays a big role in the show with the concept of space being a lawless frontier with outlaws having to enforce the status quo through gunfights and bar room brawls. Certain characters’ back stories are styled in the manner of a film noir which adds a more engaging feel to their respective motivations. For those of you with more of a taste regarding real world issues then you will enjoy the morality plays that are present in some episodes that deal with terrorism, euthanasia, illegal drug operations, and life in the military.

Every episode contains a brilliantly constructed soundtrack that harmonizes very well with the eclectic genres of the show. Jazz music will play over an intense foot chase, an operatic choir will softly swoon over a cathedral explosion, or heavy metal music will thunder over a nail biting climax. Some episodes are even named after songs by “Aerosmith”, “The Rolling Stones”, or “Led Zeppelin”. The introductory song will by no means put you to sleep as it grabs you by the eardrums and refuses to let go until your goose bumps subside.

The Verdict: WHY ARE YOU STILL READING? GO WATCH IT!

Seriously, stop reading at this point and go watch the show, my feelings will not be hurt… ok, maybe a little. This anime series is great because it has a little something for everyone. If you can’t find it in you to sit and watch an entire 26 episode show then I recommend just checking out an episode at random. Every episode is episodic so you can jump in and enjoy it without having to worry about missing things. I guarantee this anime series will blow your brains out through the back of your skull and leave you begging for more.

My Rating: 9/10

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