For those that are lifelong fans (and those with ears perked and eyes open), Cowboy Bebop will be released on Blu-ray and digital in the U.S. in 2014. If you really can’t wait that long, the whole series has been uploaded on YouTube in 1440p HD. Yes, you read that correctly.
For those unfamiliar with Cowboy Bebop, let’s start off gradually, as it
may be is a series worth your time.
When you think of anime, you may visualize big eyed, crazy neon haired, wild and young overenthusiastic characters involved in a baseless and shallow plotline in a black and white unrealistic world ruled by absolute chaos and bad dubbing. Cowboy Bebop is none of those things.
For the record, there are no aliens; the technology is within the bounds of reality (albeit, coming sooner than later); real life products are still around (everything form Coca Cola, Lucky Strike cigarettes, Excite, Pocky, Playstation etc.); Ernest Hemingway’s The Snows of Kilimanjaro is referenced; one character and story line is based off the infamous real-life Heaven’s Gate cult; Bruce Lee is on billboards; every single gun shown is based off a real one; Singapore’s Lion City still exists – it’s all there, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There is a handful of movie references through cinematics that pay respects to classics like Aliens, The Killer, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and The Crow, to name a few. Cowboy Bebop self describes itself as “The Work Which Becomes a New Genre Itself", and rightfully so.
The story is set in the year 2071, humanity is spread all across the Solar System on colonized and terraformed planets like Mars and moons like Titan; Earth suffered a rock shower after a space highway (known as an astral gate) exploded and destroyed the moon. The Solar System has police jurisdictions, but has reinstated the Wild West’s bounty system; bounty hunters can catch or a kill a bad guy and turn them into police for a lump sum. The story centers around five characters who struggle to meet ends meet, all while peeling layers of their depth filled, saddening, and tragic pasts that truly make the show for what it is.
Jet Black, a former beat cop and bounty hunter, is the captain of a ship called Bebop; his partner, Spike Spiegel, also a bounty hunter and the main protagonist, is a an aloof, Jeet Kune Do martial artist running from a criminal past; Faye Valentine, a femme fatale born in ’94 (but cryogenically frozen) and rival bounty hunter is a hard luck woman with a massive past debt to pay off; a quirky and eccentric teenaged brainy hacker earth girl named Ed (aka Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV); and Ein, a genetically modified welsh corgi. Simply writing about it does it no justice.
The show isn’t just gun totting violence that occurs from start to finish – in fact, a majority of the show reflects on character development, giving us a more three dimensional feel for the people set before us; you will see yourself in at least one of Cowboy Bebop’s characters, and even if it’s just for a brief moment, it’ll feel a bit intrusive to your soul, which is what the whole show is about.
At least listen to it’s amazing original soundtrack. It’s a blend of jazz, big band, folk, country, rock n roll, and a whole lot of remnants from yesteryear – a lot of the praise that Cowboy Bebop gets is from its music – which, were it absent, would ruin the series.
On cold Sunday nights back in August 2001, a lot of us youngsters broke bedtime hours and huddled around our TV set at low volumes to a get a glimpse of this “grown up anime”. It was a series that ushered in a new generation of young adult smokers who perked their interests in jazz, making literary and cultural phenomenoms contagious as a result of Bebop.
You don’t need a whole list of critics giving the series high marks to convince you to watch such a powerful series; Cowboy Bebop is worth every second.
Tasha Robinson probably worded it better, saying “Those ready to dip their toes into the commitment of a TV series (which generally run to 13 or 26 episodes per season, and like British shows, usually have season-long self-contained plot arcs) might start with Cowboy Bebop, which was rightly a huge hit; each episode follows a different musical theme, and the story, about a bunch of incompetent, space-traveling bounty hunters, is jazzy and energetic, with callouts to everything from ’50s spy shows to modern action movies. (As a full-circle bonus, the lead character, Spike, is heavily based on Lupin III himself.)”