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To many, Cowboy Bebop is one of the best anime ever created. I've been to many conventions, and found attendees that generally mention this as one of the top picks. However, I feel this series tends to viewed far too much under rose-colored glasses. While the series has its strong points and there are also points where it tends to stumble.
I think one of the biggest misconceptions made about the series is that its a team show. This is completely false, as most episodes maintain only a singular focus on one of the characters. If it involves Vicious, its a Spike episode. If it involves some sort of scam, its a Faye episode, etc, etc.These episodes involve the other characters, but they mostly sit on the sidelines. Character interactions are limited to the characters stopping the occasional faceless mook or a small cheer of encouragement.
Which sort snowballs into the problems of character interaction in general. In many individualized episodes the characters only have a few minutes of conversation to discuss anything. It would be boring to have everyone get along, so Wanatabe goes the opposite route of everyone getting on each other's nerves. Spike makes misogynistic comments toward Faye, Faye insults Spike's intelligence, they both consider Jet an authoritative square, and everyone is irritated at Ed, for being Ed. Unsurprisingly, a common subplot involves the spotlight character quitting the group. Eventually the status quo returns with the character rejoining and possibly growing as a person, but what the series doesn't get is that individual growth doesn't translate to relationship growth. At the finale, I saw Jet willing to lay his life on line for Spike and Faye confess her feelings for him and I didn't believe any of it.
Finally, each member is utterly exceptional at their area of expertise. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but the series doesn't always make this competence consistent. In the first episode, Spike gets beat up by performance enhanced drug addict, only to utterly trounce him later with no explanation other then Spike hinting he is striking outside his field of vision, when several times that clearly isn't the case. Really, this problem could be resolved by making the team more cooperative on missions and adding their perspectives to influence the spotlight character's personal thoughts rather than dial up or back the effectiveness of the spotlight character to fit the pacing.
Cowboy Bebop is still a spectacular series. However, I feel it honed Wanatabe's skills to make better series like Samurai Champloo or Space Dandy, rather than stood as his main masterpiece.
Gotta admit that Cowboy Bebop has the best soundtrack, though. And definitely the best opening theme.
I prefer Space Dandy myself, but since I hate hip-hop, I don't like Samurai Champloo.
@ImmortalBear: I feel that Cowboy Bebop tends to be overrated. It's mostly episodic and basically meanders along, 'til like the last 3-4 episodes which is when it finally develops a plot. If the entire series had an overarching narrative I might've enjoyed it more. Instead, it wound up being just sort of "okay".
I got more out of Outlaw Star. That one knew what it wanted to be and mostly stuck to the script.
@HammerOfJustice: I've heard better soundtracks and opening themes. "Ready, Steady, GO!" and "Sentimental Generation" both blow Bebop's OP out of the water (imo).
@Mini U You can't complain about Cowboy Bebop being overrated because it's episodic, that not a good complaint because the show is meant to be episodic. Not every show needs some big over arc storyline to be consider great. Just because the show doesn't suit your preference in writing doesn't make it overrated.
@Hammerof Justice Kinda shallow to dismiss a show soley because you don't like it's genre.
Bebop lacks a cohesive plot. It drags along as the Bebop crew does things. None of which is all that interesting, because there's little in the way of character interaction, or character development. The only episodes that matter are the ones concerning Spike's background and his beef with Vicious, which only accounts for 4 episodes.
Overall, it lacks substance. There isn't enough there to make me invested in the cast or what they're doing. They're just sort of "there". So I'd say the fact that it's episodic is a legitimate criticism in this instance.
The episodic formula works best for sketch comedy (ex. Azumanga Daioh, You Can't Do That on Television, etc.), or detective dramas since those follow a case-by-case format, with each one being its own "story". Patlabor managed to follow a basic premise, and had meaningful character interaction and development, despite being mostly episodic.
Compared to that and others I can think of, I can't fathom what Bebop did to garner the acclaim its received all these years. There just isn't much there.
Like I said before, Bebop doesn't need a big arc to to be worth watching. You claim it drags along but I think you judging it on the merit of it being something else rather than it's being episodic. And you thinking it's not intersting is a highly subjective not at all a strong agruement
That's completely false. If you think the whole point of Cowboy Bebop is JUST Spike facing off against Vicious, you are watching the show with the wrong mindset, And are you meaning to tell me that the episodes uncovering Faye's past don't matter or episodes covering Jet's Past don't matter either? See the major flaw with that statement?
Just because you don't get the show, does not mean it lacks substance, there's plenty of substance by how the characters act, the life ideology on how they live and there characterizations by how the react to their situation and environment. The show is all about substance and the depth of who they are and what defines them. Which is why the episodic narrative works in the show favor.
Spike is a man define by his past believing to be dead, but goes into the motion anyway because he believes life is simply a dream. Faye define by not knowing anything about her past and not knowing where to go so she refuse to believe in anything or anyone. Jet define by sticking to the book and being old fashioned with strong morals.
Purely subjective, Not a strong argument at all. That just what you seem to enjoy in episodic show specially.
Wrong, Bebop is a very subtle show with what it sets out to do and if you take everything you see at face value than you will never understand the appeal. Those show lack Bebop styles and substance, Bebop doesn't spell things out. More than that the show has writing style of having each episode play out like a movie each having it's own story to tell and each being able to throw the characters into a difference atmosphere while still overall working.
There also the fact that the show has beautiful directing, every scene in the show has some atmosphere to it, the music aids in the directing as the show could also tell a story solely through music and the show is able to combine all of that while telling multiple story in different ways. The show really values cinematic approach. There is no scene that feels lazily executed or lacks any style to it.
The show is also ultimately about Bounty Hunters just trying to get by while there past comes back to hunt them instill they have no choice but to face them. And it could lead to good results or tragic ones. And it because of what happen to them in the past that what define them now.
To claim there isn't much there is a lie. But of course seeing as you think the only thing that matter is Spike against the Vicious. I could see why you couldn't pick that up.
I suggest re-watching it.
So someone's personal enjoyment (or lack thereof) isn't a valid point of criticism? 'cuz I came away thinking it was only so-so after watching it twice.
No, I specifically said it has nothing resembling a plot, or even a basic premise, until the last 3-4 episodes, which is when it finally seemed to be about something other than them just trying to scrape by. Which is why I said the ones that delve into Spike's background were the only ones that really mettered, because they were the only episodes that were plot relevant.
The cast barely interacts with each other and none of them undergoes any development, so where exactly is the substance you're referring to? And I don't recall any of them having any ideology.
Spike is a knock-off of Lupin III (he even cribbed Lupin's look), minus the charm, wit, and character depth that defines him. The same can be said for the rest of the Bebop crew, because they're essentially a discount version of Lupin and his gang. Jet is analogous to Jigen in terms of characterization and even sharing the same english VA. Ditto for Faye being their stand-in for Fujiko, but like Spike, she lacks the charm that made the original such a success.
That's part of the problem. The purpose of a story is to "explain" to the reader/viewer. As in: "What's it about?" "What are the characters' motivation?" "Where does it all lead?"
Take Outlaw Star for example. Q: What's it about? A: It's initially about two wanna be outlaws trying to make a name for themselves, who end up forming the crew of the eponymous ship.
Q: What's the characters' motivation? A: At first, it's fortune and infamy. But once they acquire the XGP and Melfina, and find out about her connection to the Galactic Leyline, their goal changes to trying to reach it before the Kei Pirates do.
Q: Where does it all lead? A: The Leyline, which is where the crew faces the pirates and ultimately learns the truth about Melfina and the Leyline itself.
See the difference?
I've already seen it twice. Nothing changed. I still thought it was average.
Notice how you ignore a good deal of my comment that already answer most of your questions. Mainly in regards to the premise of bebop and why bebop and it's character appeal and work and it's episodic nature in regards to it's plot. I already explain most of that in my previous comment.
The rest of your comment is just you just making highly subjective and bias statement in regards to the characters so I'm not going to repeat myself nor go back and forth on that. Either read my whole comment or don't reply at all.
And your example with Outlaw Star does not work, you're comparing two different shows, with two different writing style.
And just because Bebop doesn't spoon fed the audience does not make it a problem, that too many people is the part of the show's charm.
I can't help but think it's more of a you problem than a legit fault with the show.
I think it simple Cowboy Bebop isn't your type of show, and that's okay but don't mixed your personal preference confuse with an actual legit problem with the show.
@AfroProduction96: I read your previous comment in its entirety and, no, you did not answer how any of the Bebop crew has any depth. Instead, you made simple statements about each of them that were as bare bones as the characters themselves. For example:
Who isn't defined by their past? We live with the consequences of our actions and past experiences, whether we wish to acknowledge them, or not. I wouldn't call that "deep". I'd say that's life.
And the "life is a dream" part was a quote he heard from Julia, because it's hat she used to say. Not Spike. He remembered it, because it's what she told him when he suggested they leave the Dragon Syndicate together. It was her way of telling Spike he was fooling himself if he honestly thought the syndicate was going to let them walk away. Spike still wanted to believe it was possible, 'til Julia commited suicide because she knew it was the only way "out". At no point does Spike ever adopt the same outlook on his life.
Faye having a distrustful nature, due to being unable to recall her past, is a fairly old cliche. Melfina, Angel, Cloud Strife, and countless others (see: Amnesiac Hero, Broken Bird, Dark and Troubled Past, etc.) had already been there and done it better.
That alone does not mean a character has depth. It's whether they recover their missing past that the audience is interested in, because it hopefully reveals more about who they were and possibly what caused them to lose their memory. Faye makes only one attempt to recover her memories, and it was only because Ed happened to find an old recording of someone Faye thought might've known her. It turns out to be a false lead, Faye basically figures, 'oh well' and never bothers to try again.
So what did we learn about Faye? Nothing, beside the fact that she's shallow, selfish, and lazy. A fact which Jett stated when he finally got fed up with Faye mooching off what little they had. So I definitely wouldn't use her as an example of the show having substance.
No, it's definitely a problem with the show's writing and lack of direction. Which is why I used Outlaw Star for contrast.
Your constant griping about the show being episodic, you complaining about the show not having a big story arc, and you complaining about the show not spoon feeding it plot points, all points to it truthfully being a you problem,Cowboy Bebop is a big success in because of it's writing and direction. You just don't understand the appeal which you outright admitted.
And Spike has stated multiple time he felt his life was a dream. When he encounter Vicious at the church, when he told Faye about his cybernetic eye, and during the final encounter with Vicious. Their also his interaction with Vincent in the movie who serves as a dark parallel of Spike's "life is a dream" philosophy.
Saying he never adopt that outlook is a lie. You trutfully don't understand any of the characters do you?
And Faye didn't just go "oh well" she clearly stated she had no home to return to because her house and everything in her memories was literally gone. She even met an old friend in the past who still remember her, she found what she was looking for and it didn't get the result she wanted.
You're obviously bias in regards to the characters and their depth simply breaking it down into trope and claiming it was done better in other media is purely subjective and coming up with a poor statement about them being Lupin just speak volumes about your mindset with the series and the characters. You don't understand the characters at all. So it's no surprise you think their barebone and have no depth. You literally twist and misinterpret and ignore traits the characters has just to prove your faulty point about them not having depth.
Not a good way to react to something you don't understand.
Outlaw Star didn't spoon-feed its audience either, but it had a plot. Patlabor was episodic, but still had meaningful character interaction and development.
Cowboy Bebop has neither. That isn't my problem, it was the decision of the writer.
Watanabe drew clear influence from Lupin III when he came up with the Bebop crew, which is apparent if you put them side-by-side.
Spike even dresses the part, the only difference is his suit is blue instead of red. Jett is a buffer version of Jigen and shares the same dynamic with Spike that Jigen does with Lupin, he's the 'old partner' character.
And Watanabe has gone on record as stating that Faye is modelled after Fujiko Mine, who's widely considered to be anime's original Femme Fatale. Except Faye is bereft of any of the charm that made Fujiko popular. Acknowledging the Bebop crew's similarities to Lupin and his gang isn't twisting anything, it's stating a fact.
I honestly can't take you seriously in regards to what you think the writers didn't do well. When all of your logic in regards to the series shows you know nothing about it.
The fact that you believe Spike didn't follow the life is dream ideology is massive proof to that, and than your judgement of what Faye did when she found her home is also major proof to that. It's clear you know nothing about the characters or series. The fact that you miss both of there central character trait shows that big time. Made even more sadder because you admit to rewatching once.
So it's laughable to continue this.
And btw I didn't say there was no similarities to Lupin. I state is wasn't a knockoff, big difference.
So explain. How did his actions reflect it? I'm all ears.
Because I said they lack depth (which they do), or that they barely interact with each other, and had no meaningful development? 'cuz I'd say that's a spot-on assessment, which is why there isn't much to say about them other than, 'they look sorta cool'.
I already said I can\'t take you seriously about this anymore. I\'m not going to go out my way to spoon fed you the entire series.
@AfroProduction96: So basically, you have no response, 'cuz you know there's nothing much to say about them. Concession accepted.
@Mini U Patting yourself on the back is a very pathetic retort. It sorta comes off a desperate attempt to protect your rather fragile ego on the internet. Says a lot about you.
And it seems you can't read right as well, I clearly said why I can't take you seriously.
It's clear you don't understand the series at all, and I don't have the patience to educate you about it.
@AfroProduction96: I wasn't patting myself on the back at all. If you can't offer a response to support your argument, then say so and be done with it. Otherwise, fill in the blanks that you say I'm missing.
"I can't take you seriously" comes across as a poorly veiled attempt to avoid admitting that the characters and the show aren't as deep as you'd like to believe. In which case, I accept. So I'll move on.
@Mini U You clearly don't understand anything about the series. So taking your statements about what you think about the characters would be fruitless and lacks any real weight. In the end, you're just bitter that everyone loves a show you don't care for.
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