The tale circles 4 (5 including the mutt Ein) characters that navigate space and the far flung colonies in-between, while scuttling along in a junk heap of a ship called the Bebop. This rag-tag band of issues can be considered bounty hunters, explorers and flat out criminals. As they go on multiple misadventures and jobs, usually ending up with the crew getting just enough to eat...just, the viewer is treated to a layered and complex world , inhabited by interesting and flavourful characters. Spike, Jet, Faye and Edward (with Ein in tow) are a family of orphans in the world of 2070 where human colonies abound due to space travel technologies that allow ships and supplies to “jump” through gates, pretty much portals to distant worlds that seriously decreases the problem of travel time. While some of the colonized worlds are quite Earth-like, there is also casino land like, industrial land like, border town like and others...kind of similar to the diversity of lands in most Mario games...different kinds of places with odd over abundances but all the while taking place in the same universe. The series does have a centralized focus on the gangster Spike, which includes his lost love and an epic battle with his arch enemy, but each character that inhabits the Bebop gets important plotlines and adventures. The show is more about the ship in general, as it contains these characters while being a home for them in the cold vastness of space. With ingenious and familiar references to various science fiction and frontier-type movies and shows, Cowboy Bebop establish a very coherent stage for the players. Characters fit in their roles and nothing seems outrageously misaligned. Once again, a testament to the vision and skills of the production company.
Aside from the general wackiness (a staple of anime), nothing is particularly heavy handed. When the show references historical in-universe conflicts or the moon of Earth's past blowing up, there is never an obvious overindulgence in the concept and the ideas are dealt with in straight forward, non-preachy ways. This is a testament to the consideration and substance behind this show and it considers the audience as being able to fill in blanks without having to shove the ideas done the viewers throat. While I did like elements of Firefly, Whedon and crew are so obvious in their attempts at establishing the history's and motivations of the Firefly crew that it weighs in as an insulting narrative approach that quickly becomes dull and tedious. In Bebop, it is subtle yet broad. A regular set up used is the presentation of the bounty hunter show “Big Shot” , which discusses outstanding bounty’s for baddies. This gives the characters a job, gives the viewer an idea of the baddies him/herself and creates an infrastructure where a show that focuses on bounty’s would exist. No boring exposition or bullshit reminiscing. Whedon learned to steal some of the style but little of the substance. Of note as well, is the subtle way Ein’s abilities are presented. Stretched out over numerous (if not the entirety of) episodes, this sub plot is left vague but important. Complete character and world building, with interesting and mysterious flashback sequences that help construct the characters pasts. Cowboy Bebop is a considered and thoughtful sci fi series that also manages to be exciting and fun. It is a worthy series to anyone interested in spaciness, animation and shows that make you think and speculate about our futures. High grade entertainment for people with brains.
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