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
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.