Anyone who’s seen Joss Whedon’s cult space western hit Firefly ought to know the appeal of a story about a group of bounty hunters travelling all over the universe, finding paying contracts that lead to all sorts of intriguing escapades, all so they can earn enough to get food on the table. When one follows the tale of the smug, mysterious Spike Spiegel and his ragtag band of fellow crew members, one can easily understand why Beez Entertainment considers this a legend amongst animé, and indeed a heavy influence on Firefly.
Cowboy Bebop follows the story of a group of bounty hunters known as “Cowboys”, who cruise around in search of decent pay in a spaceship called the Bebop. The leaders of the group are the wisecracking, snarky Spike Spiegel and the thoughtful cyborg Jet Black. On their journey, they come across the irritable, yet suitably flawed Faye Valentine, a bizarre government-owned “data dog” by the name of Ein, and an eccentric, tech-savvy 13 year-old girl called…(deep breath)…Edward Wong Hau Pepulu Tivrusky IV (No, that’s not a misprint – the girl is called Edward).
Each character, Faye in particular, comes across as sufficiently flawed to the point of occasional peaks of unlikability, yet still exhibit a great degree of personality (Yes, even the dog) to make the experience worthwhile during their tale. Additional appeal to continue watching comes not only from the mysterious backgrounds of characters like Spike and Ein, but also from the seamless blend of sci-fi, film noir and spaghetti western elements to make a truly unique setting for all the entertaining setpieces to take place.
This blend of styles even crosses over into the soundtrack by legendary Japanese composer Yoko Kanno, with elements of big band jazz, wailing bluesy harmonicas, acoustic guitars that really help to drive home the show’s influence on Firefly, and splendid rock ballads. Suffice to say, the overall presentation of Cowboy Bebop is some of the most unique you’ll ever see in an animé, and speaking from experience, I have known plenty of people not normally into animé getting enjoyment out of Cowboy Bebop on its own merits.
In the past, UK animé lovers had led an already tough life competing with high DVD prices and the fact that a lot of big-name animé like Neon Genesis Evangelion would most likely never get released in the UK. Although Cowboy Bebop did get a DVD release in the UK, the individual volumes are still to this day quite expensive and very hard to come across anywhere outside of the internet, despite the full-length feature film being far easier to find. Now that Beez Entertainment has finally given this masterpiece of a series a second chance in the UK, it should be imperative that both newcomers and veteran animé viewers should snap up a copy of this series, and experience the intriguing travels of the Bebop for themselves!
Animé Legends: Cowboy Bebop Remix (2012), directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, is distributed on DVD in the UK by Beez Entertainment, Certificate 15.