Cowboy Bebop – Session #1 – Asteroid Blues

Having never seen Cowboy Bebop before, but heard many good things about it, I went into the first episode not completely sure what to expect. 

I’ve just come out of that first episode, and… well, I’m still not exactly certain what I’m getting into. Let’s run down the things I know so far:

  • We’ve got an apparent protagonist named Spike who is a ‘cowboy’, or bounty hunter; he’s good at martial arts and lives on a spaceship called the Bebop. 
  • Spike has a buddy/ colleague called Jet who doesn’t seem to get as involved in the on-world side of operations but will drop in to save Spike’s ass if required. He can’t cook anything other than special beef with bell peppers (may or may not contain beef). 
  • At least some humans are living on Mars, with Spike claiming to have been born there and the (I think unnamed?) femme fatale of the episode expressing a desire to go and live among the wealthy classes who currently occupy the planet. She is claiming that a load of test tubes are a baby at the time, though, so I don’t know how reliable she is. Also something I’m not sure about: where this episode takes place. Jet refers to Tijuana, but I get the sense that the planet they chase Asimov the drug dealer to isn’t Earth. 
  • Speaking of drugs, there’s a very valuable one going around called Bloody-Eye, which seems to enhance reflexes and possibly turn the user into a psychotic killing machine. I’m not sure whether the bounty on Asimov is because of his dealing or something else. 
  • The music is fantastic. I mean, that theme tune! 

Aaaaand that’s about the extent of everything I’ve learned from episode one (or ‘session’ one, continuing the jazz tradition evoked by the theme tune and Bebop reference – I wonder whether the sort-of-jazz-influenced band Jamiroquai named their song Space Cowboy in reference to this show?). I don’t know where this journey will go, but I think I’m going to enjoy the ride. 

From what I can tell (I’m reluctant to Google the show in case of spoilers), Cowboy Bebop came out around the late nineties, but you’d hardly know it from the quality of the visuals and sound. Yeah, the art might be stylistically a little dated compared to modern anime, but I think it’s fair to say it’s aged well – especially when compared to something like Akira, which is, sad to say, really obviously old at this point. Plus jazz is basically timeless, so that’ll never get old. I can’t help but wonder whether the show will be following a sort of one-story-per-episode format for the rest of its duration, like little isolated jamming sessions distinct from each other, or whether we’re going to get an overarching plot before too long. I suspect we’ll be getting a bigger roster of regular characters, if nothing else (for two reasons, which are, one, that two is a very small number of regulars and, two, the opening credits showed at least a couple more silhouettes); either that, or Spike and Jet are going to be getting some serious fleshing out and their interactions with the different characters of each episode will develop clear thematic points. 

I don’t think there’s much else for me to say on this one, except that I think ‘Asteroid Blues’ is strong enough as a first episode that I’m really interested to see where Cowboy Bebop goes, even if I haven’t yet got any clue where that might be. I think I’m going to enjoy finding out. 

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