cowboy bebop

Enough of my reviews have come over the Brian for most of you to realize one thing: my reviews suck. So before I fumble to explain what makes Cowboy Bebop great, trust me on this one fact: Cowboy Bebop is the single greatest story-telling feat of the late-twentieth century.

I finished watching the 26-episode anime series for the second time yesterday and realized that people who dismiss anime as crap were missing out on a gem. Anime has been pretty much dismissed by western-culture as sexist, violent and mindless. And with some of the crap that reached our shores in the early-90's, yes, some of it does fall under that category.

But then there are masterpieces such as Neon Genesis Evengelion, Lain and the entire Miyazaki/Ghibli catalog.

And then there's Cowboy Bebop.

Most of the 26 episodes seem like stand-alone stories that could be watched on their own. And each one could stand on it's own. But all 26 together stand together as a work that I can only compare to Alan Moore's Watchmen as hinting at a larger, deeper picture.
It's hard to describe the show without it coming off as a "I've seen this before" type of sci-fi show. Only they never once spell things out for you, only hint at what's going on. No voice-over explaining how star-travel was allowed by an advanced gate system, or how an accident with one of the gates has rendered the Earth almost-uninhabitable. Instead you have to watch several episodes to get this. You've already heard this story before. Because that doesn't matter. Only the characters matter. By telling their story, does the world they inhabit get populated.

Each of the five protagonists have their own story. And none of their stories gets unfurled the way you would expect from the medium. Most of the story isn't even told, only left for you to guess at.

It's a story about alienation, even among friends. It's a story about how you can't walk away from your past, no matter how many times you stated that you can. It's about how we all know we belong somewhere, even if where we belong doesn't exist. One eye sees the past, one eye sees the present.

Oh, and do not watch the dubbed version if you have a chance. I decided to check out some of the dub on the final episode and none of the emotion came through.
The movie is due out in Japan this summer. I may have to take a trip there just for the opportunity to watch it on the big screen. Guess I'll have to learn Japanese, too.