Eheh. Okay. I now understand why Cowboy Bebop is held with such a high regard. I’m really impressed with what a ridiculously solid series it turned out to be. This show has a rock solid direction that makes the most out of its very impressive budget. This series is another major example of how a good episodic series can be.
Cowboy Bebop feels like a journey you go through, along with the characters. Throughout the series, the characters run into many different situations and get to know new characters, and because of the episodic nature of this series, every episode is also different: some episodes are tense thrillers, others are action-packed, others go into mystery, others are comedies, then others delve into the pasts of the different characters: it’s all wonderfully balanced, especially in the second half. Even the finale just takes up two episodes, and yet it delivers a short, but incredibly sweet and memorable ending.
What really sets this show apart is the acting, however. It completely subverts anime’s tradition of overacting: every single performance with one notable exception (Ed) is filled with subtlety, and yet the creators are able to convey a roller coaster of emotions. If you really need overacting in your anime, you won’t like this, because the characters constantly play off of each other’s subtlety, even during the silly and action-packed parts. The relative coldness between the characters may seem a bit off-putting during the first ten episodes and this may be a bit hard to really get into the series at first, but in the end this makes them even more memorable than usual because of how down to earth and believable the characters are. And as for Ed… she indeed has the worst voice actress of the entire series, but even her character ends up memorable in a way.
The characters in this series feel alive: they’re completely dynamic, and you feel that there is much more to their pasts than they tell you throughout the series. In fact, none of the lead characters are related at all: they’re just a bunch of people who wind together as bounty-hunters on the same ship. Only when it comes up, they talk about their pasts and there are many notable details about their characters and pasts that never get revealed. You could call that a flaw, but I consider it an excellent way to flesh them out, especially in the way that the series keeps reminding us that these people have had their own lives before the start of the series.
With this series I also understand why Youko Kanno became famous. There actually hardly is any soundtrack in Cowboy Bebop, and when it plays it mostly stays in the background. But the individual tracks are incredibly good and varied, and sound unlike any other soundtrack I’ve heard. Vocals that are used are in fluent English and sung by some great vocalists.
To close off, this show also had truly excellent visuals. Especially the art direction and the designs of this series are very likely to be the best of its time: every single frame is filled with all kinds of imaginative stuff and junk in the background. The architecture is exquisite and every single design just blooms with ideas and creativity. I can point out quite a number series that may have had better action than this series, or less still frames. I can however think of only a few other series that had more visual ideas than this one.
|Storytelling:||9/10 – Top notch direction and storytelling, every episode is diverse and well paced. One flaw would be that characters like coincidences a bit too much and that characters sometimes just “happen” to know where to go in order to prevent the story from dragging.|
|Characters:||10/10 – Some of the best acting you can get: subtle, yet incredibly expressive. Great chemistry, the cast really feels alive as the series goes along.|
|Production-Values:||9/10 – Great and fluent animation. Some of the most consistently good designs you can get.|
|Setting:||8/10 – Pretty much the only part of this series that got aged during the past thirteen years, in the way that it inspired many other interesting science fiction premises. It still has many interesting ideas, though.|