Cowboy Bebop Review
Written by: ClayDragon
Three, two, one, let’s jam!
Along with Dragonball Z and Pokémon, Cowboy Bebop can be seen as one of the driving forces behind the proliferation of anime in western countries. In fact, it’s the longest running show on [adult swim], going on for over a decade. The story of Cowboy Bebop focuses on a group of bounty hunters, who, in the late 21st century, travel across the solar system on their ship, the Bebop, hunting criminals and trying to earn money. Whilst the summary sounds fairly straightforward, the backstory isn’t quite as simple.
|From left to right: Jet, Spike, Faye, Ed and Ein.|
Unlike most shows, the backstory isn’t given as a series of info-dumps. Instead, it’s given in very small doses, and even then much of it isn’t fully fleshed out, meaning that much of the story is only implied. Whilst this does make sense from a certain point of view (how often are you given the full history of everyone you meet, for example?), it is a little frustrating at times, as the viewer can feel left hanging.
|Don't try this at home, kids.|
On the other hand, the characters themselves are anything but frustrating. The main character, Spike Spiegel, is the embodiment of what most anime characters should aspire to be; calm, cool, funny, and pretty damn awesome. Jet Black makes up the other half of the bounty-hunting duo, and acts as the voice of reason on the Bebop. He tends to act as the muscle when the situation calls for it, although he regularly lapses into the role of the only sane man. Throughout the series, the crew expands as Spike and Jet are joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con woman, Ein, a super-intelligent Welsh Corgi, and Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (more commonly known as Ed), a 13-year old genius hacker and a permanent resident of cloud cuckoo land.
Each character has a unique, interesting backstory, although some are explained better than others. For example, Spike’s history is the one that affects the crew of the Bebop the most, and yet despite some hints that are dropped here and there, it remains largely unexplained. By contrast, Ed’s backstory is given a lot of focus, despite the fact that she’s the crew member with the least amount of focus.
Another large part of Cowboy Bebop is the music. The show pretty much thrives on it, and almost every episode title references a song (Aerosmith’s Toys in the Attic, and Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, to name a couple). The background music is made up mostly of jazz pieces, and the music is so good that many scenes are shown purely through the visuals and the background music, leaving out dialog entirely. For more proof of how good the music is, look no further than the show’s opening, which rivals that of Baccano! in terms of amazing opening music.
|Literally everything in the caption is incorrect (except the word 'at').|
Whilst it may seem odd that the first thing I said about Cowboy Bebop is a negative thing, rest assured there’s a good reason for that: it’s the only majorly negative thing. Almost everything about this show is done perfectly. The only other complaint I can think of is that the show is a bit on the short side, but even then, if the only problem with a show is that it’s too short, then that isn’t much of a problem.
|Spike was not impressed with the circus ringleader's jokes.|
Aside from that, the only other thing that would have made the show better would have been a bit more focus on Ed, but that’s merely a personal preference. The characterisation is pretty much perfect, the stories are varied, and the music is awesome. In fact, these three things come together perfectly in the final episode, which provides one of the best and most iconic endings in anime history.
Overall, Cowboy Bebop is a classic, and you owe it to yourself to go and watch it.
Good Things: Interesting, well developed characters (but especially Spike).
A number of varied stories.
The ending is pretty much perfect.
Bad Things: Too little backstory.
Lack of focus on Ed.
Got any ideas for an anime I should review? Post your suggestion in the comments below!
ClayDragon is currently studying Physics at university, and is constantly bewildered by it. The main method of contacting him is his Gmail account at email@example.com. The alternative is his Skype account at kyleroulston1993. When not playing games or reading, he can be found with his head in his hands whilst trying in vain to understand quantum physics. He owns an impressive collection of geeky shirts.