Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Screen Review 4. Cowboy Bebop

Show: Cowboy Bebop
Season: 1
Number of Episodes: 26 (24 minutes)
Stars: Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea,  Wendee Lee
Release Year: 1998
Rated: TV-MA

Synopsis: In 2071, roughly fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth almost uninhabitable, humanity has colonized most of the rocky planets and moons of the Solar System. Amid a rising crime rate, the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) set up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters (also referred to as "Cowboys") chase criminals and bring them in alive in return for a reward.The series' protagonists are bounty hunters working from the spaceship Bebop.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

"Nothing good ever happened to me when I trusted others. That is the lesson."

Image result for cowboy bebop gif

(It should be noted that I listened to the English dub, and I thought the dub was good)

Controversial opinion time! I thought Cowboy Bebop was just fine. It certainly wasn't bad. Much of it was very good! I just feel like the hype was set so impossibly high that it would have disappointed me regardless of how good it was.

My main complaint was that the show felt like it was trying a little too hard to be cool. Each line felt very scripted, like the character had been practicing saying it in their head for an hour before finally spitting it out. The moment where everything got pushed over the line, though, is this one scene where the main character is smoking and then, when told not to smoke inside, SWALLOWS HIS CIGARETTE. HE EATS IT. And the show plays it off like, oh man, look at this guy, he's so suave and cool! It was little moments like this where I was like, tone it down a bit Cowboy Bebop. We get it. You smoke and fly fast spaceships, your characters are supposed to be cooler than me.

The best part of the show for me, hands down, was the music. I literally have listened to the opening song on repeat because it is the epitome of the coolness that the show was trying to reach. But besides from the glorious opening song at the beginning of each episode, the music put throughout the series was also great. It spanned many genres, never felt repetitive or out of place, and was "cool."

I can't really critique the plot, because there wasn't one. The show is just the story of a bunch of bounty hunters trying to make ends meet and come to terms with their pasts. For this reason, nothing ever felt like it was building up to something, save the last few episodes. This didn't really bother me though, since I was interested enough in the characters and coolness to take each episode as it came (although some I feel far more favorably about than others).

When I was first going to write about this ending, I was going to say I hated it. That's because, the second the screen went to black after the first episode, I did hate the ending. I thought it was cheap. I thought there was no buildup. I thought there was no payoff. And while I don't entirely feel different now, it has grown on me. For a show that doesn't have a plot, the ending gave me what it could, and left the message it meant to leave. I just wish it would have answered more questions than it gave.

I do wish characters like Julia and Vicious got more character development. Actually, who am I kidding? ANY CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. If you asked me to explain anything about their characters, I'd say Julia is a girl and Vicious is a bad dude, and I wouldn't be able to give you a single other adjective for either of them. If they had only showed up once, I wouldn't have cared, but they are supposed to be a major part of the show. How am I supposed to care about what happens to them if I'm never given a chance to know who they are?

I liked all the main characters. I liked the idea of them as a little family, even if the show didn't take full advantage of that. I liked their side stories, their backstories, and their clear-enough characters. I just wish Ed (who I love by the way) got a bit more love from the writers. She's supposed to be one of the main characters, but she seemed to get pushed off to the side a lot.

As a final note, I loved the world building. The world these characters inhabited felt realistic, and I could understand the structure of their way of life from the little I saw. It felt futuristic, but also familiar. It felt dirty and crime-ridden, but also clearly was filled with regular people. The setting was a highlight for sure.

I know I'm being harsh on this show, but I did enjoy it. I did always want to watch the next episode. It just didn't live up to the hype for me. There wasn't enough buildup and payoff. But the things the show did right, with the music, animation, style, and world building, it did RIGHT. I'll get around to watching the movie (a mid-quel) sooner or later.

See you space cowboy (man, I need that on a shirt).

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