See You Space Cowboy

Masterpiece, genre-defining, one-of-a-kind, cult-classic, greatest anime ever, transcends cultures and personal tastes. These are just some terms that have been used to describe the 1998 anime series – Cowboy Bebop. Sure does set the bar high? Let’s find out if it lives up to the hype.

Animation – 9/10
I’d like to say that I’m an anime expert – but unfortunately I can’t tell you that in good conscious because it’s been several years since I’ve watched one. But to restore your faith in my nerdiness, just let me say, that instead of studying during my university years, I stayed up late nights with a hot and spicy bowl of instant noodles and watched these anime series on my computer until the sun came up – Naruto, Bleach, School Rumble, Fullmetal Alchemist, Deathnote, Beck, and One Piece.

They’re so nerdy…but still cool at the same time

I miss you guys – being an adult stinks!

Anyways, back to the point at hand. Considering the fact that Cowboy Bebop’s animation is 15 years old now and was done the old school way – as in hand drawn, the animation is pretty good. Basically – the animation doesn’t seem dated, it looks relatively current. I can obviously tell this animation isn’t from 2013, but I never would have guessed that it’s from 1998.

Music – 10/10
In my opinion, an amazing soundtrack can make a TV show or a film that much better. It can make a TV show from great to phenomenal. I don’t think I’m the only person who enjoys the Dark Knight Trilogy soundtrack and Hans Zimmer’s score just made the films that much better…and….now the song’s stuck in my head…..great. But seriously, can you imagine The Dark Knight without that awesome soundtrack at the end of the film? You know, when the movie ends and the screen goes black and then BAM – THE DARK KNIGHT words appear and the music hits. Well at least for me, it’s one of the most memorable parts of the movie.

Anyways, I’m not a fan of the blues or jazz music. But I’m a huge fan of Cowboy Bebop’s soundtrack which is mostly the blues and jazz! That’s how good the music is! The soundtrack not only matches the tone and themes of the entire series, it just makes the experience that much richer and better. I’m not just referring to the opening title song or even the after-credits’ song, I’m telling you – the music before, during, and after every episode is incredible.

Characters & Story – 10/10 (SPOILER FREE)
I don’t want to spoil the story so I won’t go into too much detail. Basically the series is about a group of bounty hunters who travel through outerspace who capture wanted criminals for money. Obviously there’s a major story arch which starts around episode 5 that’s carried throughout the entire series, but most episodes focus on self-contained stories about the bounty hunters and their adventures.

I usually hate self-contained episodes that aren’t related to the major story arch in television shows. I think that’s why I generally enjoy shorter seasons over longer ones. For example, Breaking Bad would have 13 solid episodes in one season where the major story arch is moved forward in every episode, whereas Smallville would have 22 episodes a season and we’d get an episode about Clark, Lois, Oliver, Chloe, and Emil drinking magic champagne from Zatanna and have a cheesy hangover episode (I love and hate you Smallville).

They’re so nerdy…but still cool at the same time

TV at its finest and…TV at its lowest

Back to my point – Cowboy Bebop has a lot of self-contained episodes that weren’t related to the main story arch but not only were they good, they’re the best thing about the series. A 22 minute episode would introduce a new character, develop their story, make viewers care about them, and then bring their story to a conclusion in one episode. That’s an amazing accomplishment.

Another great thing about these self-contained episodes is that they always indirectly talk about wonderful life lessons. But they don’t do it obnoxiously or explicitly spell things out…it’s just something you’ll pick up by the end of the episode and at least for me, the episodes made me reflect about my own life.

In terms of characters, even though the main characters are all so different, you’ll end up caring and rooting for them. You’ll also love the main villain. You know how there are some villains that are so cool and bad ass that you just love them too. Joker? Carnage? Well there’s a main villain who can definitely join their ranks.

They’re so nerdy…but still cool at the same time

You want to hate us, but you can’t because you love us!

Overall – 10/10
What makes Cowboy Bebop so special? It’s a Western, sci-fi, noir, comedy, action, drama, thriller, all rolled into one. And it’s done so seamlessly. Other animes like Naruto or One Piece are great, but they’re very similar with their dramatic stories or sense of humour which can sometimes turn off the general audience. But I genuinely believe that anyone would enjoy Cowboy Bebop because it’s not outlandish or unrealistic as other anime series. If you’re going give the series a try, just do yourself a favour and watch at least the first 5 episodes. In episode 5 you’ll get a taste of the cool villain and the main story arch and you’ll be hooked from there on. Until next time…See you space cowboy

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