Podzilla 1985

Friday, August 01, 2014

3. 2. 1. Let's Jam. - 10 Favorite Cowboy Bebop Episodes

Cowboy Bebop is the kind of anime that you can suggest to just about anyone, and nine times out of ten they will enjoy it.

When it first aired on Adult Swim back in 2001, during the good old days when the block didn't start until eleven or midnight, it was a big change from most of the anime I watched.

I had been living on the Toonami line up, which was also much better back before it became the DBZ show, and whatever bad dubs Fox was playing on Saturday mornings. Bebop just had a more serious tone and a grittier feel to it, although it was still occasionally silly in it's own right.

I remember it being a big deal in our anime circle at college. Everyone was watching it. We were all pissed that 9/11 caused us to miss out on a episode during its first run cause it was "too soon" to have the Teddy Bear Bomber blowing up twin towers on our TVs. We even held a mini funeral at the end of  the series when a favorite character passed on. 

It was a great show. Even better, it's one that has great replay value.

Not too long ago I revisited the series while gathering some AMV fodder. Normally when I do this I just have the show running in the background and work on other things while it's being ripped from my DVDs to my editing program. With Bebop I found myself actually watching it again from beginning to end.

So , after taking a look back, I'd like share with you my ten favorite Cowboy Bebop episodes. This list is based purely on how much I enjoyed each episode, so I'm sure not everyone will agree with my choices. 






"Boogie-Woogie-Feng-Shui"

Jet get's a mysterious e-mail from an old friend. He goes to see him, only to find his grave. At the grave site he meets the man's daughter, Mei-Fa. She's an expert in the art of Feng Shui and is desperate to find out what happened to her father. She believes that he is still alive,and enlists Jet to help her find a sun stone that can help them locate her father.

This episode plays to Jet's soft side. He just can't seem to refuse the younger girl. The best part is all the crap he takes from Spike and Faye, teasing him about his "new girlfriend." Though he dishes it right back at the two by restricting their smoking zones on the ship. Mei-Fa can get a little annoying at times, but over all she truly wants to find her father and really believes that the sun stone is the key.

I don't really understand the whole Feng Shui thing but it makes for an interesting element in the episode. Mostly this is just a really good Jet focused episode.






"Stray Dog Strut"

Abdul Hakim has stolen a valuable lab animal and is on the run. Spike and Jet travel to Mars on this new bounty hunt. One problem, Hakim's had plastic surgery to avoid his capture. After a little mix up of identity Spike discovers that the animal is just a dog. After leaving the store Hakim shows up and tries to buy back the dog, but it escapes leading to him, Spike and the scientists who illegally experimented on it all take chase.


Enter Ein, everyone's favorite data dog! He's the adorable animal factor that every teams needs to have. I love this episode for three reasons.
  • Spike getting irritated over chasing a dog. 
  • Awesome one shot characters like the over the top pet shop owner. 
  • The background music track "Bad Dog No Biscuits."

Most of this episode is one big chase scene, as far as action goes. I can't help but smile at the end when everyone who though that Ein was just your common corgi is shocked at the truth. Plus the Bebop get's a new member to it's crew.






"My Funny Valentine"

Faye encounters an important man from her past. We learn that she was in an accident, she survived but was in bad shape. After decades of being in a cryogenic freeze she was treated and revived. She goes through a bit of culture shock learning of all the changes while she was asleep. The biggest kick in the teeth, her medical bills. Enter the hero who will make everything all better and take care of her.

Not quite. Not only does she get played by the man, he fakes his own death and leaves his own debt to her as well. There is no way she's ever getting her money problems under control. Makes you completely understand why Faye is the jaded bitch we usually see.

I'm a sucker for character back stories. I love them. They just always add that extra level of depth that sucks you into a series more. Plus it was a nice tie in that Faye was really from our time. You gotta admit the lady looks pretty good for being in her seventies.






"Toys in the Attic"

A strange blob like creature breaches the Bebop. It's poisonous bite puts Jet, Ein and Faye out of commission. It's up to Spike and Ed to find out where it came from and to destroy it.

This is one of those weird pop culture reference episode. When I first watched it I had no clue cause I'd never watched Alien. I have since added that title to my watched list thanks to Shannon's insistence. There are a number of references including Spike using a motion tracker and flame thrower. Much like the film the characters are attacked slowly and one at a time dwindling the teams' numbers.

This episode is just amusing. It's a little break from the same old routine of finding a bounty and executing the capture that will somehow still lead to a failure of some sort. I like that Spike has to rely on ed for help, which is just a mistake to begin with. I love Ed but still she is just too out there to truly be a rational choice.






"Black Dog Serenade"

An ISSP prisoner ship malfunctions and is taken over by its prisoners. The group is being led by Udai Taxim, the syndicate assassin who took Jet's arm back in the day. Jet's old partner, Fad, recruits him to help out in the retrieval mission. Jet could use the chance for a little closure to his detective days, but Fad's reasons are quite as noble as they may appear.

Oh look another back story episode. I warned you I'm a sucker for these. Though to be honest this wasn't in my initial top ten cut. No it came from rewatching the show. I didn't remember it being that good the first time around. Maybe I've matured since then.

It has a heavy theme of revenge vs. forgiveness and moving on. Jet has every right to want to see the man, who ended his career, die. Though when faced with a larger picture is it all worth it.

I appreciate Jet so much more now than I did when I first watched this series. He's gone through a lot of shit and used it to shape his compassion for life. Sure he'll still hunt down scum for a pretty penny, but can you blame him?






"Hard Luck Woman"

The Bebop has wound up near Earth, even though Mars was their destination. Faye takes the opportunity to try and find out about her past. She investigates the land marks that she's seen in the video, she made as a kid. She takes Ed with her, since the kid's also from Earth and might be helpful. The two wind up at an orphanage that Ed had stayed at before tagging along on the Bebop. There they learn that Ed's father had been looking for her a few months back. After some food the duo manage to find the landmarks from the video, and Faye is surprised by an old classmate of hers.

Meanwhile Jet and Spike come across a bounty that might be worth their time. They find him, but Ed messes up their capture. Turns out the man is her father. He asks Ed if she wants to go with him, but before she can answer he runs off again after a meteor.

This is the wrap up episode before the real shit hits the fan. It's a convenient exit for the kid and animal of the ship to make an exit before any real harm can come to them. Plus Faye finds her old home, or rather what use to be her home. It's kind of an emotionally heavy episode, though the humor breaks are still there.

It also features one of my favorite songs from the series, while Faye is coming to grips with her reality and Ed is making her choice to leave the Bebop. They are some heart tugging moments, and I'm pretty sure I cried the first time I watched this one.






"Jupiter Jazz"

Ok this is technically two episodes but since they go together I'm counting them as one.

Faye steals all of the money in the Bebop's safe and takes off for Callisto, on of the moons of Jupiter. Jet chases after her, and Spike uses the chance to follow up on some clues he has on his ex-girlfriend's location. His search for Julia ends up with another confrontation with Vicious. Faye ends up being helped by Gren, a man who holds a grudge against Vicious. Gren shares his story with Faye and chases after Vicious. He and Spike find the man in question at the same time a three way fight ensues.

This time the back story sheds some light on Vicious. It's kind of nice to see that he had compassionate side to him at one point. Gives you a little more dimension for his character. Add to it some jazz music and some genetic surprises and you have a good little two part story.






"Ballad of Fallen Angels"

The first heavy episode in the series. The target is an executive of the Red Dragon Syndicate. This hunt leads Spike to a confrontation with one of his old enemies, Vicious.

Faye sticks her nose in the bounty and gets in over her head. Spike ends up saving her ass only to get his own kick. There tends to be more talking that action in this one. Though what action is presented, is violent. Would you expect any less from a syndicate origination? When Vicious and Spike go at it, you do not want to be in the way.

This episode opens a lot of questions for the series to answer later and shows that it's not all fun and games in their world. I love that this series can go from silly to serious at the drop of a hat.

Plus I love the song "Green Bird" that plays during their fight.


These last two presented a small problem. I love them both a lot. So it took quite a bit of deliberation on who was going to take first.






"Speak Like a Child"

Or as most of us know it, the beta tape episode.

Faye is out blowing what little money she has at the horse races. While she's gone a package arrives for her. Pissed that he had to pay the C.O.D. charges, thanks to Spike opening it on a whim, Jet decides to see what's on the tape that arrived. Problem is they don't have a player for the archaic storage device.

Hilarity ensues as they look for a player and tv. Including a nice VHS gag leading them to understand that Betamax requires a different player. Oh analog video and your preference wars.

After much frustration and another C.O.D. charge they get their hands on a beta player. Finally we'll see what's on Faye's tape.

It's her as a child, and she is far removed from the woman we all know. This time capsule that Faye made for herself decades a go opens a new can of worms to where she came from.

The sentimental aspect of this one is great, but I mostly love it for the 20th century jokes. The freak collector who's obsessed with old sitcoms is the best. I still die laughing every time Spike starts kicking his tape player to make it work.

And now for my favorite Cowboy Bebop episode of all...






"Cowboy Funk"

The "Teddy Bear Bomber" has been planting bombs inside teddy bears to bring down high rise buildings in protest to humanity's excesses. Spike tries to stop him, but keeps getting interrupted by "Cowboy Andy", a fellow bounty hunter who's more like Spike that either will ever admit.

The controversy at the time made Cartoon Network choose to not air this episode the first time around. They actually skipped a handful of episode on its first run, but this one was due 100% to 9/11.

The final target of the bomber are two twin towers, that he does indeed destroy. Partly thanks to Spike and Andy being too caught up in each other than the bomber himself. I do love that it gets the point that they are all but ignoring the large man in a teddy bear costume.

Andy is so incompetent that you can't help but snicker. He has all the same skills as Spike, his judgement just sucks. He even mistakes Spike for the bomber. Spike get's so frustrated with the man, and Faye's observation that the two are alike, that he becomes obsessed with beating him out to the bounty.

This one is absurdly hilarious and I will watch it anywhere, anytime.

In ending I will leave you with Andy's theme. "Go Go Cactus Man!"


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