Version 5.4 ~ Haruhi gave rock and roll to you.

9 July 2006: Cowboy Bebop

I've been re-watching a number of older series lately—among them, Sunrise's 1998 Cowboy Bebop. This show is likely well known by even the casual anime fan, but I figured this would be a good time to revisit the series just so I could better see if the comparisons Coyote Ragtime Show generate are justified.

Jet chokes someone out.
Jet chokes someone out.

After a teaser glimpse of the conclusion of the first arc, the first episode of Cowboy Bebop gets down to business and establishes that the show is set in a future where space travel is completely unremarkable. Automated toll receipts from gate jumps of tremendous distances pile up as common litter, like cigarette butts. Nevertheless, although technology is obvious far advanced beyond the present day, humanity's general standard of living seems no better. Graffiti and trash still plague decaying city streets, and seamy bars still attract criminal lowlifes. And vice.

Someone chokes out Spike
Someone chokes out Spike.

Where Cowboy Bebop triumphs is in its lazy depiction of what it's like to be one of the Good Guys in this decrepit future. Beautiful, melancholy jazz music haunts every episode, punctuated by Spike and Jet's banter, and their occasional angst-less philosophical musings.


The voice acting is quite good, with Kouichi Yamadera still carrying the unperturbed, unflappable coolness (and some smarminess) that he brought to Ryoji Kaji in Neon Genesis Evangelion a few years earlier. Unshou Ishizuka brings a mature wisdom to Jet in a way that, for some reason, I sort of want to call "a Norio Wakamoto without the irony." (I don't know why.)


I'm also a big fan of Megumi Hayashibara's work as Faye Valentine, but I'll get to her when (read: if) that episode rolls around.

Bebop exits a gate
The Bebop exits a gate.

I never liked the CG usage in Cowboy Bebop much, since it doesn't match the rest of the animation well enough in my opinion. Nevertheless, it is pretty good considering the time. It does hold up better than the CG in VanDread, for example.

As far as comparisons with Coyote Ragtime Show go, both series feature sharp bursts of violence unapologetically. At least with regard to the violence in the two shows' first episodes, the violence in Coyote Ragtime Show is a bit more gratuitous. One key stylistic difference stands out, too: Moe. Moe as we know it today wasn't nearly so prevalent in 1998. Coyote Ragtime Show, on the other hand, while not exactly a moe vehicle, certainly is no stranger to the phenomenon.

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