Blog 3: Bounty hunters in space

Cowboy Bebop is one of those animated series (anime) that makes me wish I was good at animating because the team that made Cowboy Bebop have something special (i.e likeable and memorable characters, good plot development, dramatic music, and solid animation). Cowboy Bebop, which was directed by Shinichirō Watanabe (Samurai Champloo, Macross Plus, Kids Story, and A Detective’s Story), is a tale set in the future where humans have colonized the solar system and the Earth is a vast wasteland; the Earth’s Moon is destroyed by an accident from testing a new technology, involving using gates to open a tear in hyperspace to be used as a means of quick transport in space travel. Cowboy Bebop follows the adventures of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Ed Wong, and Ein the Welsh Corgi, as they hunt for bounty heads in space on-board their (really, Jet’s) ship, the “Bebop”.

Spike is the main character in the series, who has a mysterious and seedy past, especially involving a woman named Julia and a nemesis named Vicious. He is also very good at martial arts and practices Jeet Kune Do (the style made famous by Bruce Lee). Spike is somewhat laid back and generally accepts situations with calmness or humour. Jet Black is the owner of the “Bebop” and is a former police officer. He has a cybernetic arm and is referred to as the “Black Dog” in the series by his friends in the police force because of his determination and inability to give up on a case.

Faye Valentine (see picture below) is the main female character in the series and enjoys gambling, smoking, and pampering herself.  She also packs a lot of heat (i.e. either a Glock or a submachine gun can be found on her) and is typically lazy and self-centered. Faye’s past is a mystery to her for most of the series and occasionally a few clues come her way. Ed Wong (who’s really a girl) is the “Bebop’s” residential genius computer hacker with a very quirky personality. She enjoys hacking computers, chess, playing with Ein, and getting presents. Ed has developed an infamous reputation as a computer hacker on Earth and she is referred to as “Radical Edward” because of her computer hacking abilities. Ein is a Welsh Corgi and is primarily, the “Bebop’s” cute, yet super intelligent mascot.

Cowboy Bebop has many wonderful episodes that highlight the excellent quality in animation, character development, and storytelling. The episode or session that I selected is an episode,  I would normally not recommend to someone, who has not seen any of the early episodes because this particular episode (session) is somewhat strange and disturbing, but it has, in my opinion, one of the best opening few minutes (i.e. CGI and shadow effects) in any animated series, I ever seen. The episode (session), which is entitled Pierrot le Fou (session 20), is about an seemingly unstoppable experimental killing machine with a mind of a child named “Mad Pierrot” who targets and kills high-ranking police officials. Spike, unfortunately gets caught in the crossfire, as he finds himself, the next target of Pierrot, after stumbling upon one of Pierrot’s killings.

Pierrot attacks Spike by trying to shoot him with his weapon, which happens to be a cane, and to Spike’ s shock and horror, the bullets that he returns fire with, bounce off Pierrot because of his defense mechanism, which is a green force field. Spike even uses a barrel full of gasoline as a weapon against him, but that fails and Spike barely escapes. Because Spike escapes Pierrot’s attack, Pierrot invites him to a theme park (if you look closely, the theme park is a homage to Disney Land or Disney World) to face off and see who is victorious. Meanwhile, Jet has Ed hack into the police records to discover Pierrot’s true identity and possibly a way to defeat him.

In the end, Spike is able to overcome Pierrot without Jet’s discovery and Faye’s futile attempt to aide him by blasting Pierrot with her rockets; Spike’s victory only happens because of dumb luck. This happens only because Pierrot hesitates for a second (this is due to light reflecting off of Spike’s glass eye and Pierrot becomes afraid because the different colors in Spike’s eye reminds him of a cat that had two different eye colors who would always watch him when he was a lab rat for the government). With Pierrot hesitating, Spike is able to throw a knife into his knee cap and Pierrot begins to cry like a baby, which unfortunately for him leads to his death because he is crushed by a parade of animatronic animals.

Overall, Cowboy Bebop has likeable and memorable characters, a good plot, dramatic music, and solid animation. If you look closely in Pierrot le Fou (session 20), you should be able to see the wonderful use of CGI on the city buildings, especially in the beginning where you see Pierrot flying up and hovering in the sky; this also applies to when he comes down and lands on his feet. The use of shadow is also good in this episode (session) because it amplifies the already dark atmosphere of the story by making “Pierrot” seem almost more psychotic and violent. In the end, as stated earlier, I probably would not recommend someone who has not seen a few episodes of the series to watch this episode (session) because of its dark and strange nature, but I decided to post it anyway, for it has some of the best animation in the series, especially the opening sequences.

ETA: I commented on James Davis’ blog, Jeanie Hilleary’s blog, and Amanda Cole’s blog.

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3 comments on “Blog 3: Bounty hunters in space

  1. I love Ed and Ine, this series is fantastic and it helps me and my roommate practice our Japanese. We find anime is one of the best way to train our ears and work with our context markers. Great review glad you found an episode to post and happy to have another anime fan in our midst!

  2. I agree that episode 20 is great example to give for the show. I found the way Pierrot’s face and movement to be animated quite well. He facial expression seems to show his cruel and child-like state of mind and he has somewhat of a playful gait, moving quite nimbly for someone so large, almost like a balloon.

  3. Pingback: Midterm Evaluation: Blog specimens « Mike's Blog

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