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Sunday, 9 March 2014

REVIEW: Cowboy Bebop (1998)

I think with the exception of AnoHana: The Flower We Saw That Day, every anime that I've reviewed here has some sort of source material. Whether it's a visual novel, a bishonen manga or a Japanese Light Novel, pretty much everything I reviewed on the blog has been copied from a source, and is also grounded in one, maybe two genres. However, today's anime is almost in it's own genre, and it also has no source material to work on. It's also, arguably, the most famous anime from the late 1990's.

Cowboy Bebop by Sunrise.

Cowboy Bebop surprised me by not having an over-arching plot for a majority of the show. A majority of the episodes have their own specific plots, with occasional backstory of the four main characters that all comes to a head near the end of the show. The story is centered on four completely different people, all of whom are crew members on the spaceship, Bebop. Spike Spiegel and Jet Black live out their days trying to scavenge money by being inter-planetary bounty hunters. On their travels, they meet the beautiful yet somewhat careless gypsy, Faye Valentine, who I originally thought would end up being a Tsundere but, this is Cowboy Bebop we're talking about, it turns all your expectations upside down. They also meet up with a small young girl named Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, a strangle but technologically gifted child. Together, they try to catch their bounties in the year 2071, after a tragic incident that caused the moon to explode, and therefore humanity must migrate from Earth to other planets, mainly Mars. The story was a turn off for me at the start, but then, somewhere around when Edward entered the plot, the show's story just got better and better. Sure it's got a slow start, but it certainly ends with a brilliant ending.

The characters of Cowboy Bebop are so hard to talk about, especially since they're all very deep characters (maybe with the exception of Edward, who pretty much is comic relief). Everything that happens to these people really makes you think about them, and to be honest, I don't think there's a bad character, at least, out of the main four. Some of the villains though can be kinda annoying or stupid, but that's just me. As per usual with these anime reviews, I'll be talking about the main character and my personal favourite.

Spike Spiegel.
The driving force of the entire cast is Spike Spiegel, an honest bounty hunter whose past isn't very clear as the story begins. However, as the story progresses, Spike becomes more relatable and more human, and less of a wise-cracking cowboy. He matures over time, and gives the anime some sense of reality, even though it takes place in outer space. He's an honest, hard working and intelligent guy, and I couldn't think of a character better suited to lead this anime than Spike. His English voice is also completely kick ass too.

Faye Valentine
As pretty much the only central female in the entire show, Faye Valentine had a lot of thought rushing through my mind. However, it wasn't until episode 18 when I realized that she is without a doubt the best character in this show. She's a wise cracking gypsy who's addicted to gambling and is also ALWAYS in debt to someone, whether it be a member of the Bebop or otherwise. She's not as relatable as Spike, but a lot of the comedy in the show comes from her actions and doings, and she's also the trigger of one of the best scenes in the show (that one from Episode 26). Her character is complex and interesting, and she's one hell of an entertainer.

For something that was drawn up in 1998, Cowboy Bebop looks as though it could be airing today. It's an absolutely stunning looking anime, with extremely detailed backgrounds, amazing characters and a true 1990's feel and look about it. It's all so dirty and gritty and punk-esque that it almost feels like a western at times (hence the "Cowboy" in the title). It's certainly better than most long-running shonen and even modern animes like Sword Art Online and Higurashi No Naku Koro ni look nowhere near as good as Cowboy Bebop does, because it's distinct style has made it look as though it's animated in the period the show is set in.

Right from the get-go, the music in Cowboy Bebop is fantastic. From the bombastic and suaveness of the opening theme, Tank! to the smooth jazz of the ending theme, the show's soundtrack as a whole is fairly good, although there are a few songs here and there that sound a bit boring to me. However, the best part of the sound is the voice acting, particularly, the English dub. Steve Blum gives an amazing performance as Spike Spiegel and that is good enough reason to watch the show.

What can I say about Cowboy Bebop that hasn't been said already? It's got amazing characters, animation and great dubs on both Sides. While the story takes a while to gather up steam, and the soundtrack isn't perfect, Cowboy Bebop is one of THE essential anime to watch, whether you're interested in the space genre or not.

Story: 7.5
Characters: 10
Animation: 10
Sound: 8
Personal Enjoyment: 10


"See you, Space Cowboy.."

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