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Classics of Anime – Cowboy Bebop

We could go on and on about the various overtones, the look and feel of the series and how it makes it one of the greatest out there. But it is the story that sets it all up, with the crew travelling across the solar system looking for their next bounty and more often than not getting into situations that lose said bounty and have worse consequences if the crew isn’t smart. My personal favourite episode here being Mushroom Samba, as Ed goes looking for food and comes back with a bag of mushrooms that aren’t the ones you’ll usually find in a shop. The highlight of the entire episodes is Spike’s encounter with that damn frog.

What Cowboy Bebop has managed differently to most anime is its ability to gain worldwide popularity not just on DVD but on TV as well. Even here in the UK the series has appeared twice on television; first on the ill-fated CNX and then what was at the time seen as the saving grace of anime on TV, Anime Central. While neither channel is still active, it is still a testament to the series that it managed to stay on for the duration of those channels. Though if you watched every episode repeated constantly for a year it would be safe to say you would have gotten completely bored of the series by now. A crime in itself.

To this day the series is still held in high regard. Newtype ran a poll of the “Top 25 Anime Titles of All Time” with Cowboy Bebop ranking second place with Neon Genesis Evangelion taking the top spot and beating other Japanese favourites like Mobile Suit Gundam. In early 2009 The Onion’s A.V. Club (a less parody-focused programme for entertainment news) called Cowboy Bebop “rightly a huge hit”, listing it as a perfect gateway series to help understand anime as a whole.

While the series began life as an anime first, it also spawned two mangas. First was the two volume Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star which was an alternative telling of the story in the TV series. This was then followed by the three volume Cowboy Bebop: A New Story. Not only that but Bandai released a PlayStation shoot ‘em up in 1998 in Japan, followed by a PlayStation 2 game that was released in Japan in 2006. A North American version was set to be released, but was then cancelled in 2007.

So what is in the future for the series? A live-action film has been confirmed as being in development with 20th Century Fox. The Producer Erwin Stoff (The Matrix and I Am Legend) has said that the project is only in its early stages at the moment, though Keanu Reeves has expressed an interest in playing the role of Spike. On the positive side it has been confirmed that Kenji Uchida, Shinichiro Watanabe, and series writer Keiko Nobumoto will be associate producers on the film. Just fingers crossed it’ll be something that will be much better than recent efforts such as Speed Racer and Dragonball Evolution... We really do hope it will be better.

About the series itself, an interviewer asked Watanabe if there were any plans to create more Cowboy Bebop. Watanabe went on record saying that he does not believe that he "should just keep on making Cowboy Bebop sequels for the sake of it." It was suggested in a more recent interview when the same question appeared; Watanabe gave the answer "someday... maybe, someday." While we would love to see more Cowboy Bebop, it is one of those series where a sequel could possible spoil what was already a fantastic storyline. As of now there is no mention of a sequel in the works.

As for now, for those that haven’t already experienced the Cowboy Bebop world Beez has just released the “remixed” edition of the series on DVD. Called, funnily enough, Cowboy Bebop Remix: Complete Collection, it features the entire series with remastered video and audio under the supervision of Watanabe. So now is a better time than any to dive into Cowboy Bebop and see what all the fuss is about.


Kevin Leathers

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