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May 7, 2013 10:02 PM   Subscribe

The year is 2071. Humanity has spread across the solar system and the Space Police have reinstated the bounty system of the Old West: catch wanted fugitives alive, deliver them to the cops and get paid. Cowboy Bebop chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of a group of bounty hunters as they try to catch bad guys and make a living.

Background
* Wikipedia
* Bebop was the very first anime to air on Adult Swim, starting on the very same night that the network itself premiered in August 2001.
* TV Tropes:
The Bebop's crew faces dangerous criminals, occasional starvation, a particularly disgusting refrigerator, and their own dark pasts over the course of the 26-episode series. One of the defining thematic choices the show makes is that everything has a rich backstory, but almost nothing is explained in full; the stories are concerned with the problems in the present, so in many cases, only an implied history is given.

The other half of Cowboy Bebop is its sound. Bebop also thrives on its soundtrack, composed by Yoko Kanno, which is almost entirely jazz music, with a few tracks even defying categorization — and some of the music was actually improvised to finished footage at the moment it was recorded. The show's soundtrack is not an afterthought, it is central to the experience, and many scenes are related solely through visuals and music, eschewing dialogue entirely.
The Episodes
1: Asteroid Blues
2: Stray Dog Strut
3: Honkey Tonk Women
4: Gateway Shuffle
5: Ballad of Fallen Angels
6: Sympathy for the Devil
7: Heavy Metal Queen
8: Waltz for Venus
9: Jamming with Edward
10: Ganymede Elegy
11: Toys in the Attic
12: Jupiter Jazz, Part 1
13: Jupiter Jazz, Part 2
14: Bohemian Rhapsody
15: My Funny Valentine
16: Black Dog Serenade
17: Mushroom Samba
18: Speak Like a Child
19: Wild Horses
20: Pierrot Le Fou
21: Boogie Woogie Feng Shui
22: Cowboy Funk
Movie: Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door (Lands chronologically between Episodes 22 and 23. This is a playlist of multiple videos of the full, English-dubbed movie. However, the entire thing is backwards -- likely to avoid it being flagged by YouTube copyright protection. The movie has also been uploaded dubbed in Spanish, Portuguese, Italian and in the original Japanese.)
23: Brain Scratch
24: Hard Luck Woman
25: The Real Folk Blues, Part 1
26: The Real Folk Blues, Part 2

The Music
Soundtrack Playlist

Background Interviews
* Wendee Lee (Faye Valentine)
* Sean Akins of Cartoon Network
* Jet - No Ordinary Dad
* Spike - A Complex Soul
* Faye - Intellectual Vixen
* Ed - Resident Eccentric

Previously on MeFi
2008: Cowboy Reeves: The Movie
2010: A glimpse of Seba Jun, aka Nujabes: 1974-2010
2011: Thus did Man become the Architect of his own demise...
2012: Sakamichi no Apollon from the Cowboy Bebop team

Samurai Champloo
Cowboy Bebop Director Shinichirō Watanabe's next major project was Samurai Champloo, which also aired on Adult Swim. In this series, he shifted from a musical theme of jazz to hip-hop. Wikipedia:
"...the show was set during a fictional version of Japan in the Edo period with an anachronistic, predominantly hip-hop, setting. It follows Mugen, an impudent and freedom-loving vagrant swordsman; Jin, a cool-headed and stoical ronin; and Fuu, a brave young girl who asks them to accompany her in her quest across Japan to find the 'samurai who smells of sunflowers'."
The series is also available to view for free on YouTube to the US and Canada only, through Funimation's Channel. However, because it is violent, contains a few curses and shows a little nudity, login at YouTube is required. Also, Funimation began by uploading dubbed episodes, and then at episode 5 for some reason, they reverted to episodes with the original Japanese-language track, subtitled in English.

The Episodes
Dubbed Episodes
1: Tempestuous Temperaments
2: Redeye Reprisal
3: Hellhounds for Hire, Part 1
4: Hellhounds for Hire, Part 2
Subtitled Episodes
5: Artistic Anarchy
6: Stranger Searching
7: A Risky Racket
8: The Art of Altercation
9: Beatbox Bandits
10: Lethal Lunacy
11: Gamblers and Gallantry
12: The Disorder Diaries
13: Misguided Miscreants, Part 1
14: Misguided Miscreants, Part 2
15: Bogus Booty
16: Lullabies of the Lost, Verse 1
17: Lullabies of the Lost, Verse 2
18: War of the Words
19: Unholy Union
20: Elegy of Entrapment, Verse 1
21: Elegy of Entrapment, Verse 2
22: Cosmic Collisions
23: Baseball Blues
24: Evanescent Encounter, Part 1
25: Evanescent Encounter, Part 2
26: Evanescent Encounter, Part 3

All episodes are also available on Hulu, subtitled.

The Music
* Samurai Champloo Soundtrack Playlist
posted by zarq (153 comments total) 239 users marked this as a favorite

 
One of the amazing things about the original DVDs is that they evoke the look of old 45's, including the "liner notes" on the disc cases. This was a totally unnecessary (and, therefore, much appreciated) attention to detail.

Bang!
posted by SPrintF at 10:13 PM on May 7, 2013


I didn't like the ending of Cowboy Bebop. Retroactively it ruined the series for me, and I've never had any urge to rewatch it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:17 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cowboy Bebop is my vote for the best anime of all. They still show it on Cartoon Network each weekend. It is terrific, by turns hilarious, affecting, frightening, hilarious again, then awesome, and mostly approachable even to non-fans. Many anime shows, you get the sense that you're watching an elaborate pandering system targeted at 13-year-olds, but not Bebop.
posted by JHarris at 10:19 PM on May 7, 2013 [10 favorites]


One of the other constant themes was gambling. That's all I can add to this epic post.
posted by Brocktoon at 10:21 PM on May 7, 2013


Well seeing as how 9/10 anime series take place in a high school, or otherwise involve high school kids...
posted by Brocktoon at 10:23 PM on May 7, 2013


<3
posted by zscore at 10:28 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Really, you know, Cowboy Bebop is so great I don't even think it's an anime, right? We need a new word to cover this.
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:29 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Awesome post. Brings back so much memories. I love both Cowboy Bebop & Samurai Champloo. The music was amazing and it was just ....right, fast paced when it needed to be and knew all the right emotional strings to pull. I still have Cowboy Bebop on my playlist. Ed is the best.
posted by asra at 10:31 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the ending Chocolate Pickle, the way the series winds down in the final episodes is great. Ed and Ein leaving the crew is like the show sobering up and getting ready to settle accounts.

The title of the last episodes, The Real Folk Blues, is telling; in real life, this is how stories about people like Spike end. A lot of gunslingers in the Old West didn't come out of it either. If you're lucky (Spike is) you might be able to achieve some justice in your life, but you're probably going to sacrifice for it.

Brocktoon, that's not all of it, it's how most of them are power fantasies where different characters fight other characters, there's a whole elaborate sequence of methods anime directors use to show power that date back to Dragonball Z, and most of it is just textbook by-the-numbers storytelling in that style. That stuff only remains popular because there's an endless stream of new kids who don't know any better to watch it.

This, of coruse, alludes to you, it is an anime, completely and thoroughly. It's the kind of thing that, when I first watched it, I thought hey, I like this, maybe I'm an anime fan after all. But it turned out to be a high point, a cusp, a local maximum. Still though, it reminds us of what it could one day be again.
posted by JHarris at 10:33 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


Still though, it reminds us of what it could one day be again.

Yeah, if they could only stop pandering to Japanese otaku, I'd gladly be an American fan :(
posted by This, of course, alludes to you at 10:38 PM on May 7, 2013


I became a Corgi owner about a year before the series premiered in the U.S., and needless to say was an instant fan (well, as soon as Ein showed up)

8 years later, I was cosplaying as Spike at Comic Con when a middle-aged Japanese man and his interpretter stopped me to say how much they liked my costume.

I said "Oh, you know Cowboy Bebop?

The he replied in broken English:
"Yes...I am...CREATOR of it!"

Awesome moment.

Here's our group, featuring my friend Basil as Ein.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:46 PM on May 7, 2013 [61 favorites]


I didn't like the ending of Cowboy Bebop. Retroactively it ruined the series for me, and I've never had any urge to rewatch it.

One thing that I absolutely love about Cowboy Bebop is that it takes 20ish episodes of fairly light, inconsequential fun and then everything starts to fall apart in the ways that they ultimately should. The contrast between the beginning and the end is so important to how I experience it that it makes me wonder whether it must have been the point- in some way, the series' "message", if it had one.

And, damn, what an ending.

...Bang!...
posted by Jpfed at 10:56 PM on May 7, 2013 [2 favorites]


I've tried watching Bebop several times and I really want to like it. Then I get several episodes in and it's all Gothic cathedrals and flying ravens and haughty, cruel silver-haired swordsmen. Just because it's not shounen/shoujo, strictly speaking, doesn't mean it's not completely mainstream as far as anime goes.
posted by Nomyte at 10:57 PM on May 7, 2013


I watched several episodes a few years back. It never even occurred to me that it was actually about anything. But then that's my reaction to an awful lot of anime so I should probably sod off out of this thread, because I've just realized this comment makes me one of those people.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:58 PM on May 7, 2013


If only the Bebop links were subs... *sigh* guess I'll have to settle for Champloo.
posted by soloasch at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2013


Outstanding post... is there another contest going on?

Love these series! Thank you for this comprehensive listing of episodes and related curiosities.
posted by _paegan_ at 11:01 PM on May 7, 2013


I'm too old to have been the target audience for the initial US airings of Pokemon/Sailor Moon/Dragon Ball. We had Robotech when I was a kid, and Voltron and Manzinger, but the anime out there, while intriguing to my Transformers-addled brain, was few and far between. So, other than the odd late night screening of Macross Plus or Ninja Scroll on TV, Cowboy Bebop (subbed version, the American voice actors will always sound off to me) was the first anime I watched as an adult. And it absolutely spoiled me. I wanted more. I asked around, "what's like Cowboy Bebop? What's as good?" But it seems to be this singular, beautiful, funny, exciting, emotion, musical, futuristic thing.

I try other anime series by Shinichirō Watanabe. Samurai Champloo never clicked with me, and while Kids on the Slope was wonderful during the music scenes, it was unfortunately tainted by being yet another anime about school kids. Post-war school kids at that. I've even tried out other anime just because Yoko Kanno is involved. But nothing ever lives up to Cowboy Bebop.

I will never, ever be some sort of otaku. I will always and forever be a Cowboy Bebop fan.
posted by thecjm at 11:05 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


Well, I've never watched Cowboy Bebop dubbed, and I have enough distance from my last viewing, and those indelibly perfect original Japanese performances, that this might be a good time to start. This a wonderful post.
posted by figurant at 11:06 PM on May 7, 2013


Man, I loved Bebop when my buddy was working at the Anime store and could bring 'em home for marathons, but I was never able to dig the dubbed versions. Spike's English voice is just wrong to my ears.
posted by klangklangston at 11:07 PM on May 7, 2013


I've tried to watch this a couple of dozen times, and I just can't do it.

Dubs or no dubs, it's all hat and no cattle. It's a square mile pool that is five inches deep. It's like someone made a movie about Spore.
posted by Sphinx at 11:09 PM on May 7, 2013


It's jazz, where often the substance seems a lot like flash.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:13 PM on May 7, 2013 [8 favorites]


I borrowed the DVDs to this years ago but never got around to finishing it. If only it weren't 1am right now.
posted by hellojed at 11:14 PM on May 7, 2013


I want to rewatch this SO BADLY but I'm afraid it won't have the same emotion resonance it had in highschool. I totally made bad ebm music videos off a VHS I had of the last two episodes. I watched the last episode at the end of class and wandered around the halls in a daze afterwards, and people kept asking if I was ok and I had to be like "ANIME MAN. ANIME"
posted by Betty_effn_White at 11:19 PM on May 7, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you've only seen a few episodes here and there and it didn't do it for you, you just gotta keep watching and/or start from the beginning. I skipped watching Beebop on CN so many times.. WTF? cowboy on a horse... click. WTF? space trucker woman... click. Then came the time when there was absolutely nothing else on TV at the time and I watched (I think it was Pierrot Le Fou) and cursed myself for watching old Star Trek reruns all those times.
posted by zengargoyle at 11:24 PM on May 7, 2013


I'd say that Jet and Faye's voices suffer at least as much as Spike's from the dubbing, while Edward may actually benefit a little (was never a fan of the character). The thing is, I think it's a pretty good dub, but this is a case where the original was so outstanding, as well as perfectly matched to the script and the intended moods. It would be very surprising if any dub could stand up to the original.
posted by Edgewise at 11:25 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


IMO, Cowboy Bebop has the best soundtrack of any show of any genre, ever. One of the soundtrack albums is usually in my regular rotation. I love that the Seatbelts actually used to do live gigs in Japan.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 11:30 PM on May 7, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am shocked people don't like the English dub of Bebop. Are there multiple versions out there? I saw it on CN and have the DVDs, those are the same voice actors. They are perfect!
posted by BeeDo at 11:32 PM on May 7, 2013 [5 favorites]


Yoko Kanno's Cowboy Bebop soundtracks still make me sit up and listen, even though by all rights I've heard them enough times that I should be apathetic. They sound like someone did some major deep crate digging and made some seriously impressive mixtapes out of forgotten records, but no, she made all that.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:32 PM on May 7, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think the dubbed versions are pretty decent for dubs, but that may have to do with the fact that Steve Blum's voice was so omnipresent around the time that it kind of embedded itself in a corner of my adolescence.
posted by jason_steakums at 11:40 PM on May 7, 2013


Relevant AskMeta with musical suggestions.
posted by Nomyte at 11:51 PM on May 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Bebop is good. Though strangely enough, Ghost in the Shell S.A.C stands above it as an episodic anime in my mind.
posted by gryftir at 12:02 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Yes...I am...CREATOR of it!"

When I try to picture this, I see a mountain erupting from the floor, Shinichirō Watanabe riding the summit as it soars skywards. Against a stormy background, as lightning forks and crackles around him and from his very fingertips, his voice booms across the night.

YES. I AM. CREEEAAATOOOOOR OF IT!
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:04 AM on May 8, 2013 [25 favorites]


Bebop is a really singular piece of art, sort of irrespective of medium, but there's something that really grates on me about the idea that it's "not anime". Like all those times I've endured an explanation of how something isn't Science Fiction or Fantasy because, well, you see, it's kind of good.
posted by brennen at 12:04 AM on May 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Also, awesome post, zarq.
posted by brennen at 12:05 AM on May 8, 2013


"The thing is, I think it's a pretty good dub, but this is a case where the original was so outstanding, as well as perfectly matched to the script and the intended moods. "

Yeah, that's really it.

"I am shocked people don't like the English dub of Bebop. Are there multiple versions out there? I saw it on CN and have the DVDs, those are the same voice actors. They are perfect!"

Watch the sub versions. That's where they're perfect, and I'm not usually much of a dub snob.
posted by klangklangston at 12:22 AM on May 8, 2013


And I still sneak Tank! onto mixtapes.
posted by klangklangston at 12:23 AM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Spike's English voice is just wrong to my ears.

Holy crap, no. Steven Blum is an excellent voice actor and his voice is like pure sex.
posted by Malice at 12:46 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Bebop was awesome. It's the ONLY anime where I prefer the dubs versus subs. I still mourn the demise of the live-action movie production. Yoko Kanno's OST is amazing. The live shows she did with the Seatbelts are great fun. She's done theme music for some of the biggest animes ever made.

From wikipedia:
Some of Yoko Kanno's most famous soundtrack themes include "Kiseki no Umi" (Lodoss War), "Voices" (Macross Plus), "Tank!" (Cowboy Bebop), "Yakusoku wa Iranai" (Escaflowne), "Gravity" (Wolf's Rain), "Inner Universe" (Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex) and Stand Alone Complex O.S.T

Cowboy Bebop will always be one of my favoritest animes EVAR. From the same approximate time period, only Serial Experiments Lain and Ghost in the Shell have stood the test of time as well as Bebop has, imo.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 12:47 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Watch the sub versions. That's where they're perfect, and I'm not usually much of a dub snob.

Dub vs. Sub is getting more and more silly these days as the American distributors are getting more talented voice actors and taking it more seriously.

With the exception of Faye Valentine (Wendee Lee is great but I felt she needed a different voice) I was 100% pleased with the English dubbing and think that really Japanese vs. English is a matter of preference.
posted by Malice at 12:49 AM on May 8, 2013


I can't let this thread progress any further without linking to Bebop opening parody videos. Three, two, one, let's jam!
COSBY BEBOP (the original)
PONY BEBOP
SHERLOCK BEBOP

For completeness' sake:
Some people did one for Evangelion too.
Apparently some people made a liveaction fanfilm set in the same universe, Alfred Leebop, and they did an opening for it in the style of the show. I know little else about it.
posted by JHarris at 12:51 AM on May 8, 2013 [10 favorites]


Dub vs. Sub is getting more and more silly .

Yes, because dubbing is always wrong and like any translation, will make you miss the nuances of the original.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:01 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Yes, because dubbing is always wrong and like any translation, will make you miss the nuances of the original.

Thank god Japanese always perfectly translates into written English, so that no subtle turn of phrase is distorted.
posted by ShutterBun at 1:10 AM on May 8, 2013 [9 favorites]


Yes, because dubbing is always wrong and like any translation, will make you miss the nuances of the original.

MartinWisse, a true god amongst men.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:10 AM on May 8, 2013


It's not the translation that bothers me - I know that I'm dealing with a translated work if it's a sub or a dub. It's 1) trying to shoehorn in that translated text into the timing and mouth movements of a different language and 2) no matter how good the voice actors are getting, they still don't represent the original intention of the creators.
posted by thecjm at 1:26 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this zarq. I actually remember hearing somewhere that Keanu Reeves was involved in a live action version...obviously he would play Spike.
posted by AElfwine Evenstar at 1:28 AM on May 8, 2013


Yes, because dubbing is always wrong and like any translation, will make you miss the nuances of the original.

I can't tell if this is sarcasm or not. I've watched both, and other animes in both, and there's some great in English, some great in Japanese. Bad in both as well.

Here's some cases where dubbing is never wrong:

*Someone can't read.
*Someone can't see well enough to read.
*Someone does not know the original language well enough to understand it.
*Someone who is blind and would prefer to listen in their original language.
*Someone prefers the dub to the sub.
*Because titty sprinkles.

I'm not necessarily saying this about you or anyone on here, but I tend to think it's the nuances people think they hear when they don't actually understand Japanese that makes people complain the most.

Just let people enjoy the version they want and be happy people are watching Cowboy Bebop at all. ;p IMHO the more people that watch it the better.
posted by Malice at 1:35 AM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Regarding the ending: Watanabe has been quoted as saying (although perhaps he was trolling/insincere): spoiler

Also, I may be a philistine, but I prefer champloo. because bebop has nothing like this.
posted by juv3nal at 1:41 AM on May 8, 2013


so...how come there hasnt really been a great anime series since the evangelion/bebop era? afro samurai sucked...and obviously owes a lot to both of these. i looked over some "best of lists" last year and nothing really jumped out at me. but yeah, i liked bebop a lot.
posted by lslelel at 1:42 AM on May 8, 2013


I really liked paranoia agent, but I guess it dates to around the same time as champloo.
posted by juv3nal at 1:44 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only real lesson is never leave things in the fridge.
posted by strixus at 1:44 AM on May 8, 2013 [12 favorites]


so...how come there hasnt really been a great anime series since the evangelion/bebop era?

Madoka was pretty good - the best part is it looks like a normal magical girl show and then at the end of the third episode you realize something is very, horribly wrong. Shaft in general (and Shinkubo as a director in particular) are the place to go for good stuff lately, though it's not all home runs.

Gurren Lagann was fun, Panty & Stocking was pretty amazing. Kaiba and Kemonozume were were mind trips of their own. Milky Holmes was ridiculous pandering nonsense and brilliant at the same time. Comedy from Sweat Punch is still the best ten minutes of film I've ever seen.

I think good stuff is out there, but the merch train hasn't done as well you don't keep getting reminded of it (though I suspect we'll see Madoka pachinko in five to ten years and then who knows what will happen).
posted by 23 at 1:53 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


To be honest, Bebop was a good series, but it's overrated in the US, largely I think because it was lucky enough to be one of the first good animes to be broadcast on a mainstream channel for an adult audience by a broadcaster who actually took it seriously enough to take care in the production.

As such it reached an audience that was much larger than the diehard anime fanbase, for many of whom this was their first contact with an actually well written, well produced anime intended for adults. It's only natural to overrate it in those circumstances.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:55 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, of course - FLCL is post-Bebop. And really, what else do you need?
posted by 23 at 2:12 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yes, because dubbing is always wrong and like any translation, will make you miss the nuances of the original.

The only way you will ever pick up the nuances of the original voice acting is if you are fluent in Japanese. In that case, it's pointless to use a translation. Sub snobbery had a point back in 1993, when 4kids was the biggest name in dubs, but FUNimation has gotten leagues better over the years. They've gotten to the point where, for certain anime, I would rather watch the dub than fool with the sub. For instance, Panty & Stocking had fast-moving dialogue that didn't sub well due to cultural references, but the FUNimation writers (specifically Jamie Marchi, who also voiced Panty) did a fantastic job converting everything for an American audience.

Of course, there are certain series that just would not dub well no matter the effort or skill of the dub team. Minami-ke and Shirokuma Cafe come to mind as almost impossible to dub. But that doesn't mean subs are inherently superior, or that people who watch subs would be able to pick up on subtleties of a language they have no idea how to speak in the first place.
posted by ceol at 2:15 AM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


They sound like someone did some major deep crate digging and made some seriously impressive mixtapes out of forgotten records, but no, she made all that.

Weee-elll, now that you mention it, this popped up in another thread recently, and, along with the other "videos" in the series, is pretty damning, imho. Crate-digging seems to be exactly what Kanno does much of the time...
posted by smoke at 2:56 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually prefer Champloo to this show, but maybe it's just attuned to my tastes better. Bebop does have a better ending, though. Between the two of them they probably have the greatest music ever created for television.

BTW, in terms of post-Bebop anime, I also think Paranoia Agent is worth watching. Really, you should watch all things Satoshi Kon.
posted by selfnoise at 3:16 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Awesome post. CBBB remains one of my favorite anime series of all time. And yes, its amazing soundtrack is essential to the experience.
posted by Gelatin at 3:31 AM on May 8, 2013


Cowboy Bebop is one of my favorites as well; I own the French dub & sub (the French DVDs come with both, and they're both pretty good).

While "Escaflowne" is more "high school girl/fantasy" anime, the series' music is also excellent, done by Yoko Kanno. It's more classical, but as with jazz, Kanno pulls it off really well. (Anyone interested in "Escaflowne", watch the series, NOT the movie. Ugh, the movie is awful, like they boiled down the anime to its most reductive mecha and high school parts. The anime, while not Cowboy Bebop quality, is nonetheless quite good.)
posted by fraula at 3:42 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


This thread makes me sad and happy that I have never seen the last few episodes.
That seems kinda fitting.

I thought it dubbed well myself. Dubbing never seems right, but this was as close as something can get.
posted by Mezentian at 3:53 AM on May 8, 2013


You see, the thing with subs versus dubs is that it's just wrong to hear American voices coming out of anime characters, especially in series set in Japan itself. It's the same thing as the BBC adaptation of the Wallander novels of a few years back: well done, good actors, but it still lost something for me even though I don't speak Swedish myself.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:45 AM on May 8, 2013


I figure the "original intent" of the creators was for the audience to hear the dialog in a language they understand, so they can pick up on the acting itself rather than following along with a script and maybe get broad emotional cues from the voices.

Never got the hype for Bebop aside from it looking really nice and giving David Lucas/Steve Blum his breakout role, though. "Great-looking but shallow" about sums it up for me, and if I want to watch self-contained stories of a hapless crew of misfits who are great at running capers and yet perpetually broke, I'll cue up some Lupin.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:57 AM on May 8, 2013


For fans of Bebop & Trigun "Tainted Donuts".
posted by the_artificer at 5:01 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I got hooked on the Bebop soundtrack while listening to an internet radio station that was all scores and soundtracks.

The fact that I could never get into the series itself has been a great disappointment.

I still listen to the soundtrack on heavy rotation.

Mush.Room. Hun.Ting!!!!
posted by BrashTech at 5:03 AM on May 8, 2013


Never got the hype for Bebop

Whoever hypes it has seen the whole thing, and the end of the series is a part of what they're hyping. Whoever hears the hype starts it at the beginning, where it really isn't anything special. In conclusion, hyper no hyping!
posted by Jpfed at 5:28 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


The only way you will ever pick up the nuances of the original voice acting is if you are fluent in Japanese.

I'm not fluent in Japanese but I know where this preference comes from. I don't knock those that like the dub versions, but I will always prefer the original language + sub. There are certain nuances in Japanese pronunciation and cadence you normally don't see transferred to the dubs. It's hard to explain, but many who have watched a full series in its original language could probably attest to the preference...even if they don't understand the language natively and need it translated for them.

That being said, I definitely preferred Kôichi Yamadera over Steve Blum as the voice of Spike. The voice acting alone almost makes them two entirely different characters in my mind. But I wouldn't say I'm a snob...I don't force friends to watch anime with subs. I just gently (and often) remind them the original languages are often better experiences...
posted by samsara at 5:32 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I watched the whole thing.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 5:32 AM on May 8, 2013


personally dubbing is better for me when there's action sequences and fighting, stuff you really need to be paying attention to the rest of the screen to really enjoy the artfullness of it, rather than looking at the bottom for words.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:40 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


In conclusion, hyper no hyping!

You're toooo late! You'll never "get it" now!
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:42 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


also, now i'm wondering what Watanabe is up to nowadays.
posted by fuzzypantalones at 5:43 AM on May 8, 2013


I could never watch CB, but the opening theme music is some of the best in all animated series. Right up there with the Venture Brothers.
posted by not_on_display at 5:43 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Right up there with the Venture Brothers.

Incidentally, Google has a Saul Bass them today.

And I see a line between those two.
posted by Mezentian at 5:46 AM on May 8, 2013


Huh. There is/was a website called "intelligent anime" that was pretty much just a list of about 25 series that.. well.. like the name says. I can't seem to find it now, so maybe its gone down? I'll see how much of it I can recreate/make up based on my own biases. I think some of this stuff is better than Cowboy Bebop, great as it was.

* Trigun - Not nearly as deft or as pretty as CB, but it's from the same era, often mentioned in the same breath for historical reasons, and overall, it's a lot of fun.
* Anything by Satoshi Kon. Guy was a straight-up genius. Paprika is my favourite but they're all great.
* Anything from Studio Ghibli, obvs.
* Studio 4C's stuff, especially Mind Game. God, seriously, you must watch Mind Game. Tekkon Kinkreet is wonderful too, especially visually. Spriggan is a great old-school action film. And there's some amazing stuff among their short film collections like Sweat Punch.
* Kaiba. I can barely describe it, but it's insane, unique, incredible. It must be watched.
* Redline. Jesus Christ I love this film so much. Think Wacky Races in the 2000AD universe.
* Serial Experiments Lain. Iconic nightmare mystery headfuck about the internet, before the internet was really a thing. Haibane Renmei by the same studio is lighter but also very nice. Boogiepop Phantom is similar to Lain, though I didn't like it as much myself.
* Texhnolyze. Dark, pessimistic, often weird, misses the mark occasionally but overall an interesting thing.
* Planetes. Hard sci-fi about space-debris collectors.
* The 'Gainax Mecha' series: Evangelion, FLCL, Gunbuster (1 + 2), Gurren Laggan. Evangelion and Gunbuster 1 are serious, the others are basically ridiculous, exuberant deconstructions of them. Gurren Laggan is silly but incredibly awesome. Gunbuster 2 is an absolute masterwork.
* Pretty much anything by Production IG, especially Ghost in the Shell, Patlabor, and Blood: The Last Vampire. Skycrawlers is also pretty good. They also worked on..
* xxxHolic, a story about spirits, a boy, and a witch.
* Dead Leaves. Mad House studio goes crazy.
* Gankutsuo, a fantastic sci-fi retelling of The Count of Monte Christo.
* Master Keaton. A much more down-to-earth story about an insurance agent that ends up being more interesting, human, and satisfying than the description might suggest.
* Mushishi, a meditative, expertly-balanced story about a wanderer encountering peculiar creatures.
* Mononoke - An artsy, experimental, very Japanese story about a sort of exorcist.
* Now and Then and Here and There, an old-school adventure about a plucky boy transported to another time and place.
* Nana - A bit more traditional/soap-operaish, but a well-told and non-stupid story about two girls living together in the city.
* Cromartie High School - A gloriously dumb and absurd parodic saga of high-school delinquents.
* Ghost Hound - A quiet, twisty ghost story.
* Kids on the Slope - some high-schoolers learn about jazz and themselves.
* Eve no Jokan - A parable about androids.
* Summer Wars - A glossy, bright cyber thriller about a family.
* The Girl Who Leapt Through Time - A high-school time-travel story.
* BLAME! - Abstract, experimental, oppressive sci-fi. Can be found on Youtube, link is to part 1.
* Ergo Proxy - An ambitious, beautiful sci-fi thriller. Occasionally gets a bit silly and anime-ish, but more than made up for by the good bits, especially the incredible first 3-4 episodes.
* Nasu - Summer in Andalusia - A story about pro cycling, family and home. The followup, Migratory Bird With Suitcase, is also lovely.
* Princess Arete - Old-school in style, this is a deft take on the typical princess fable.
* Pale Cocoon - Sci-fi about data retrieval.
* Angel's Egg - Abstract, spooky, near-wordless apocalyptic fantasy.
* Robot Carnival - A collection of robot-related shorts. Very well done.

Haha, that's all I have time to dig up for now, and that covers most of my favourites, but there's plenty of good stuff out there that I've missed.
posted by Drexen at 5:55 AM on May 8, 2013 [85 favorites]


Dubs or no dubs, it's all hat and no cattle.

Shut up and eat your beef with bell peppers.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:55 AM on May 8, 2013 [8 favorites]


Drexan that's a great list. I wholeheartedly concur on most, particularly Musishi which while a very quiet series is fully as good as Bebop/Champloo etc.

I also really enjoyed Twelve Kingdoms, which is a fantasy anime that ultimately feels a bit more mature and fleshed out than most.

Also, Gankutsuo is awesome but it gives me a headache
posted by selfnoise at 6:04 AM on May 8, 2013


I can't seem to find any way to buy a collection of music from the show. Does anybody know of an actual CD for sale somewhere?
posted by newdaddy at 6:04 AM on May 8, 2013


Haha, that's all I have time to dig up for now

The mocapped and cel-shaded Appleseed?
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:05 AM on May 8, 2013


I will take the opportunity to hype up Revolutionary Girl Utena.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 6:06 AM on May 8, 2013 [5 favorites]


newdaddy, you'll either have to import CDs from Japan (and there are quite a few of them) at $HOLYSHIT each, or nose around the seamy underbelly of the internet.

I know which route Spike would take.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:06 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can't seem to find any way to buy a collection of music from the show. Does anybody know of an actual CD for sale somewhere?

As far as I know, there was never a legitimate (read: non-bootlegged) release of the various CB soundtracks in North America, but you can get them as sorta pricey imports through Amazon and elsewhere; I bought the first soundtrack as a boot at a comic-book convention back in 2002, and liked it so much that I actually shelled out for the imports for the others. Wikipedia has a full discography.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:10 AM on May 8, 2013


Also, the iTunes store for Japan has six Bebop OST albums listed for fairly standard prices (¥1500-2100) though you'll need a Japanese iTunes account to purchase, which is possible, though convoluted.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:18 AM on May 8, 2013


So I've been involved in the animu & mango fandom (and later business) for my entire adult life (I'm in my thirties) and a good chunk of my teenage years, it's a little weird to me to see people talking about how Cowboy Bebop is more or less like other anime up until its climactic last few episodes.

I saw the first episode on VHS in I want to say 1999, well before it aired on Adult Swim and became a big phenomenon. I saw this not to establish nerd hipster cred, but just to say there was no capital-C Conversation about the show yet.

And that first episode just about blew my mind. The closest thing I can imagine is the way an SF film fan must have felt after seen Star Wars in 1977.

Here was a show that seemed much more like an animated, SF-ized Hong Kong action film than an anime; gone were the ninjas that leapt impossible distances and cut dudes in half with their fist; Spike Spiegel fought like Bruce Lee, and Jet had the tired badassery of the ex-cop he was.

The mechanical design, too, was unlike anything we had ever seen. There were no transforming robots here, but the angular, utilitarian silhouettes of—honestly, I'm not even sure what to compare them to. Spike and Faye's fighters are singular achievements, and the Bebop deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Millenium Falcon or Serenity; it functions both as vehicle and home.

The characters are recognizably human, and I can't overstate how big of a deal this is. A huge amount of anime features characters that seem to be pulled from a database of attributes, and this has only gotten worse over time. But Bebop had characters with inner lives, complex motivations, ambivalence and regret and ambition. Some episodes were sillier than others, but the cast felt like real, actual people.

The world, too, is populated with humans—humans of all colors, sizes, and ages. Humans from actual places, with recognizable ancestries.

The music has been discussed at length, of course. Suffice to say it was completely unlike anything I had ever heard in anime at the time; music I wanted to actually listen to on its own, music I still listen to.

All of this came together to create something that was both unlike anything "anime" had lead us-as-fans to expect, but nonetheless represented the zenith of our hopes for the medium—the reason we went to such stupid lengths to watch Japanese cartoons in the first place. So I guess I understand if, 15 years later, it doesn't float your particular boats. But believe me when I say that it was nothing, nothing like other anime at the time, and the only show to attempt anything similar is, of course, Samurai Champloo.

Finally, some endnotes. posted by Sokka shot first at 6:31 AM on May 8, 2013 [24 favorites]


I'm going to add Eyeshield21 - it's completely insane in its inception (Japanese highschoolers playing american-style football with team-themed superheros, with large segements set in the US, which the author has clearly never been to), and brilliant in its execution. The evolution of characters and relationships is what sets the series apart, with even the goofiest sidekick and mustache-twirling villain getting entire episodes devoted to them... drama is built through depth, not conflict. I wish there were a lot more series like this.
posted by Slap*Happy at 6:33 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


What?! No Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex in those lists of recs? (Oops. It's in there.)

CB blew my mind-- and even my brother's mind, and he doesn't watch anime as a rule.
posted by Jubal Kessler at 6:34 AM on May 8, 2013


Wait, wait.

I kind of cannot believe this is on Youtube, but here's Seatbelts Live.

So, you'll probably want to watch that, too.
posted by Sokka shot first at 6:36 AM on May 8, 2013 [6 favorites]


I lumped it in with Production IG's other stuff, Jubal. I figure if you like one, you'll like the rest. :)

I wasn't a huge fan of the CG-animated Appleseed, myself, especially the visual style, but its got its fans.

I forgot to mention the other classic from around that time, Akira, but I'm sure most people know it. Worth watching if you haven't!

There's also Yakitate!! Japan if you like insane parodies about bread and/or Stephen Chow.
posted by Drexen at 6:45 AM on May 8, 2013


Also, I may be a philistine, but I prefer champloo. because bebop has nothing like this.

Well the animation on that is pretty awesome, but Bebop does have "Mushroom Samba."

To be honest, Bebop was a good series, but it's overrated in the US

Not sure I agree with you there. Sure there's other good anime besides Cowboy Bebop, but we're no longer in the age where something awesome can come out in Japan and nowhere else and people won't find out about it. There's just something likeable about Cowboy Bebop, while it's clear there's more to it than just likeability. The setting alone is a work of genius, it's the kind of sci-fi you really don't see much of anymore, except maybe Firefly.

Oh, of course - FLCL is post-Bebop. And really, what else do you need?

After watching that show, probably rehab.

On Sub vs. Dub: It's not objectively true that subbing is always worse than dubbing, there's nothing that says the original spoken words plus a running textual translation is always better than a spoken word translation of those words. Of course when it comes to really good anime, like anything else when it's translated, it's likely that the original vocal performances are very good if just because of the general ability of the creators.

If we're talking about series we love, I'll take a moment to express my appreciation for The Big-O. I'll admit it's not in the same league as Cowboy Bebop, my love for it is a bit irrational, and it kind of comes off the rails in the second season, but there are still some nice stories in it. Well, I like it.

I've also learned to greatly appreciate an older show called Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Don't ask me about that unless you want to get pinned down for fifteen rambling minutes.
posted by JHarris at 6:58 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Mushishi, a meditative, expertly-balanced story about a wanderer encountering peculiar creatures.

QFT. It's really contemplative and good.

And thanks for this post, I had no idea Bebob and Champloo had the same mind behind them. Should have suspected I guess.
posted by RolandOfEld at 7:03 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Champloo introduced me to Nujabes, for which I am quite grateful. The Champloo soundtracks were my "do stuff around the house on Sunday morning" background for years.
posted by curious nu at 7:13 AM on May 8, 2013


Just chiming in to say, Faye with her machine gun is one of the great character introductions of all times.
posted by vibrotronica at 7:15 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I saw Samurai Champloo when I was relatively young (and have rewatched it a few times), and only watched Cowboy Bebop recently, so Champloo feels more like my favourite series, but this discussion is really making me want to go back and watch Bebop again. It definitely has a deep and memorable atmosphere, especially Faye's story.

For me, subs vs dubs has a lot to do with how I first encountered the characters - I think Cromartie High's dub is brilliant, but that could just be because I got into it from seeing some dubbed clips. For most shows though, I find the American accent too... "sing song" I guess, so it's hard not to be distracted by it. I know enough Japanese that it complements seeing a translation, but because I'm not that familiar with it any potential bad acting can kind of fade into the background.

On an unrelated note, this is a brilliant Cowbow Bebop / Trigun AMV that you should totally watch.
posted by lucidium at 7:21 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I loved Bebop. I may have to rewatch it.

My other favorites are Boogiepop Phantom (no relation) and Serial Experiments Lain. Both brain-melting weirdness.
posted by Foosnark at 7:28 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Weee-elll, now that you mention it, this popped up in another thread recently, and, along with the other "videos" in the series, is pretty damning, imho. Crate-digging seems to be exactly what Kanno does much of the time...

Woah. The weirdest part of that is that I came this close to referencing DJ Food as an example of someone else who makes impressive mixes from deep cuts in my original comment.

I kinda twigged to some copying hearing "Bad Dog, No Biscuits" because it's the exact same thing as Tom Waits' "Midtown" but I guess I always assumed they were both covering some older song? Still, good to know.

Still a kick ass musical work, but it seems Kanno needs to spread the credit around a lot.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:33 AM on May 8, 2013


The AMVs by Kwasek, Only in Dreams/Cowboy Bebop and Deluxe/Trigun, are what alerted me to the fact that animé was a thing that existed, back when I was 15, way before Youtube, when you were lucky if you could find a few-minute long 240p WMV file on the internet. Then came the VHSs of Akira, Ghost In The Shell, and Princess Mononoke, I watched them like 100 times each, and I was hooked. :D
posted by Drexen at 7:34 AM on May 8, 2013


I saw Cowboy Bebop when I was, oh, maybe 16? So, like, the perfect age to just be really into it. But I never did a lot of digging into other anime, or watched Samurai Champloo, or anything like that. So thanks everyone for the amazing contributions to this thread... and goodbye, weekend. It was nice thinking about all that spare time I don't have now.
posted by WidgetAlley at 7:38 AM on May 8, 2013


I'm a white-boy otaku, thanks to a great little college anime club, which was lucky enough to have members who first traded fansubbed tapes, then paid money for imported Japanese DVDs and spent time re-coding subtitles from fansubbed DIVX videos from the 'net.

So when my wife said she had only seen a few anime episodes, and maybe a movie, I had a list of things I HAD to show her. She wasn't so sure. I bought the DVD set of Bebop, and we sat down and watched a ton, and she was hooked. Sadly, we got distracted, and we still haven't finished watching the series. Still, we got my son hooked young -- he LOVES Totoro, and Ponyo is pretty good. He's not yet 2 years old, but we've charted his life as a geek-to-be, with video games, anime, and movies he should experience, and in what order.

If you're looking for more music, Music for Freelance (album streaming on Grooveshark) is a remix album, staged as a pirate radio show, complete with DJ interludes. It's well done, in terms of fitting into the Bebop world.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:39 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I am shocked people don't like the English dub of Bebop. Are there multiple versions out there? I saw it on CN and have the DVDs, those are the same voice actors. They are perfect!

I think there's only one dub. The trick with voice-acting is that if the dub is decent and you hear it first, that's the way things should be to you. Anything else is compared to your first experience.

Steven Blum is an excellent voice actor and his voice is like pure sex.

Except he only knows one move: the Steven Blum. Seriously, that guy's voice is great, but when I walked into a screening of Big O with the English dub, I didn't notice the screen, and thought it was something from Cowboy Bebop I didn't remember. He has the same voice in everything I've seen him do, so all his characters run together.

From my experience, comparing the Japanese voice actors with their English counterparts is like comparing anime with US animation -- the former has a greater range, and often conveys greater emotion. The latter are generally cartoons, with exaggerated colors and expressions, usually aimed at a young audience. Sure, there are cartoony anime series, but there is also serious(ly disturbing) anime.

For the English dub, Ed's voice grates on my ears ("she's a little girl, let's make her sound like a squeaky and excited!"), and both Jet and Spike are played overly deadpan, where their Japanese counterparts add more nuance to the characters.
posted by filthy light thief at 7:49 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Extra, since I'm here:

Wings of Honneamise is a masterfully-made, hard sci-fi story from a ways back. The English dub is fantastic.

A couple more, not quite as strong. Wolf's Rain is more of a straight-ahead seinen anime series in some ways but when all was said and done, I found that I'd really enjoyed it, not least because it just goes all-out pessimistic as fuck by the end. And because it's about wolves. :) Nice animation.

Noein is somewhat uneven, a little prone to cliché, but pretty imaginative and has some fantastic, hyperkinetic fight scenes.
posted by Drexen at 7:50 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm all for this becoming a general anime recommendations thread, but I just want to note that asking "has there been any good anime since Cowboy Bebop" is sort of like asking "has there been any good music out of the UK since The Beatles". It's a huge medium full of art and entertainment with hundreds of varied releases every year.
posted by gilrain at 7:59 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Noein is freaking gorgeous. The story has some issues and the ending serves as definitive proof that Kazuki Akane cannot do endings, but jesus christ that art and animation and the fight scenes dang.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:59 AM on May 8, 2013


Almost 100 comments and no link to Man-Faye?
Are we, like, mature or something?
posted by Mezentian at 8:11 AM on May 8, 2013


Mezentian: "Almost 100 comments and no link to Man-Faye?"

What is...

*googles*

Oh.
posted by zarq at 8:21 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


with hundreds of varied releases every year

Someone obviously managed to erase their memories of the moe boom.
posted by 23 at 8:24 AM on May 8, 2013


And I just remembered: back in the day, I used to frequent an awesome message board that was Bebop-themed. (Sokka shot first reminded me by posting that video, which was possibly made by BigBigTruck-- and I remember BigBigTruck! I was on that board with her!)

It was a really neat place, full of interesting people from all over the world but small enough to be a community and we talked about a lot that wasn't necessarily anime or Cowboy Bebop. It also had, because this was pretty early on in the days of slamming people for copyright infringement, a 'pirate' radio station that would stream Yoko Kanno stuff and other things with a similar feel to the soundtrack. It was awesome (and might have been called Radio Free Mars?). But now I can't remember the name of the board. Anyone else have vague recollections?
posted by WidgetAlley at 8:25 AM on May 8, 2013


I only found Cowboy Bebob last year as a side effect of this question and tracking down a copy of Aeon Flux. Bebop didn't quite strike the right chords at the time (I guess the seventies styling and jazz weren't quite a fit for my mood).

But this post, and Drexen's awesome list up there, led to digging out the drive I'd backed it up on, which has both Bebop and about a third of Drexen's list on it. And I am having the time of my frikken life. And expect that to continue as I pick up more gold from this thread.

Thanks Zarq and Drexen and everyone else who's throwing the good stuff in here!
posted by Ahab at 8:27 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


JHarris: " PONY BEBOP"

Holy cow. That was really good.
posted by zarq at 8:37 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


And I still sneak Tank! onto mixtapes.

It is easily the best opening credits sequence of any show, ever, ever, for all time. It literally makes me weep, it is so good.
posted by Greg Nog at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Absolutely loved both series. Outstanding post!

Maybe somebody in this thread can help me out: how the hell does Champloo go from the end of epsiode 22 to the beginning of episode 23...and indeed the rest of the series? Fuu didn't eat the mushrooms in episode 22, so it can't have been a shared hallucination. And the way episode 22 ends is kind of, well, final.
posted by lord_wolf at 9:10 AM on May 8, 2013


I came upon the episodes out of sequence. Toys in the Attic hit me as a perfect little parody of science fiction survival horror movies like Alien and The Thing. So I pretty much groked the big idea that Wantanabe's riffing on genre paralleled the eclectic jazz soundtrack from the start. I think the series works best considered as a set of mostly stand-alone improvisations on theme, genre, and mood.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh, and since that awesome Spike cosplay story was shared upthread, I'll also share my own. Some years back, I was selling minicomics at a comic convention, and was wearing a dark, slim-cut suit with a loosely-tied skinny necktie. I have a longish face and had a whole lot of tousled black hair at the time, and people kept telling me it was a great Spike costume.

This was probably a year before I actually sat down and watched Cowboy Bebop. That day started with me saying no, that was just how I dressed, but eventually I found it easier to just nod and say "Thanks!"
posted by Greg Nog at 9:15 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


For eponysterical reasons, I absolutely had to comment on a Cowboy Bebop post...
posted by pianoblack at 9:17 AM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Of recent shows that might appeal to non-fans, From the New World (Shin Sekai Yori) stands out for me.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 9:24 AM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


It is easily the best opening credits sequence of any show, ever, ever, for all time. It literally makes me weep, it is so good.

Corollary: If the rest of the show were as good as its title sequence, we could just shut down TV, there wouldn't be any point adding on to it.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:21 AM on May 8, 2013


I was selling minicomics at a comic convention, and was wearing a dark, slim-cut suit with a loosely-tied skinny necktie. I have a longish face and had a whole lot of tousled black hair at the time, and people kept telling me it was a great Spike costume.

Somebody could have said the same thing to Elliott Gould, but it would have taken roughly 30 years before it would have made any sense.
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Hey, WidgetAlley -- was it "The Bebop Board" or "The Jazz Messengers Forum?" (EK/BigBigTruck is a friend, and I asked her this morning where she was hanging out those days.)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 11:28 AM on May 8, 2013


Drexen - I first saw Wings of Honneamise back in the mid-nineties, courtesy of Manga Video who were releasing a lot of stuff back then. Manga Video became know as Mangle Video due to their propensity to cut chunks out of films. They cut a key scene out of Honneamise to get a PG certificate in the UK, a scene that *completely* changes the feel of the final third of the film. You can't imagine how stunned i was when i saw the uncut film nearly 20 years later.

I'm in agreement with Sokka shot first, Bebop was eye opening back in 1998 but now we have 15 years of context. I also find the mention of Kanno plagiarising other artists interesting as i recall a discussion with a friend on some of the music in Bebop and we agreed there were at least 3 tunes that we recognized as something else, none of which appear on the linked youtube videos above. Regardless, i ended up spending a good chunk of my student loan on the entire Bebop discography.

As for other anime involving music? Well there are many, but a personal favourite is Nodame Cantabile. Even if you're not a fan of classical music give it a go, you will probably have a greater appreciation for it after watching the show. Oh the show can be very very silly, but it's wonderful.
posted by lawrencium at 11:51 AM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


so...how come there hasnt really been a great anime series since the evangelion/bebop era

FLCL
posted by Brocktoon at 12:25 PM on May 8, 2013


In 2001, my daughter was sixteen months old, and I began recording Cowboy Bebop on my Tivo. (It was the first showing, which skipped "Cowboy Funk" because laughing at a terrorist bombing of twin towers was not acceptable two months after 9/11.) Later, I transferred the recordings to four VHS tapes, which I lent out to at least three different people, and still have in the drawer of the desk I'm sitting at now.
Now my daughter is thirteen. I have the Remix DVDs (and the movie), which I'm watching for the first time with her. We have one disc to go, and I don't want it to end--watching disc 4, with "My Funny Valentine" and "Speak Like a Child", was hard enough, and at least that had "Mushroom Samba" to lighten the mood.

Would Firefly exist without Cowboy Bebop?
posted by Tool of the Conspiracy at 1:01 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would Firefly exist without Cowboy Bebop?

That is a good question, and I doubt it.
posted by SpannerX at 1:08 PM on May 8, 2013


I first saw Wings of Honneamise back in the mid-nineties, courtesy of Manga Video who were releasing a lot of stuff back then.

The BBC broadcasted the proper version of it at around the same time, which is how I first encountered it.

Anyway, Manga Video. Ugh. That was my gateway to anime as well, in the early nineties in the Netherlands, getting home from the videostore with Legend of the Overfiend or Bubblegum Crisis or Dominion Police and getting my mind blown.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:24 PM on May 8, 2013


so...how come there hasnt really been a great anime series since the evangelion/bebop era

I would also say Azumanga Daioh, though that's a very different sort of thing. And Paranoia Agent, mentioned above.

There's a recent show I've been watching called Night Raid 1931 that seems pretty good, though I haven't seen enough of them yet to truly judge it. It's about Japanese spies with minor psychic powers spying it up in mainland China in 1931. Played fairly straight, except for the psychic stuff, and that's fairly low-key and even unmentioned in some eps. I wouldn't put it on the level of Bebop I don't think, but it's worth a look.
posted by rifflesby at 1:26 PM on May 8, 2013


There's a recent show I've been watching called Night Raid 1931 that seems pretty good, though I haven't seen enough of them yet to truly judge it. It's about Japanese spies with minor psychic powers spying it up in mainland China in 1931.

Well, that's ... muddy territory.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:28 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


so...how come there hasnt really been a great anime series since the evangelion/bebop era

FLCL has already been mentioned and I'm sure everybody is aware of the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya, but there's also Ano Hana, which gets random dudes on Youtube to do this.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:29 PM on May 8, 2013


watching disc 4, with "My Funny Valentine" and "Speak Like a Child", was hard enough

God, "Speak Like a Child" is on the short list of things that will reliably make me cry. I'm tearing up just thinking about the scene where they watch the video.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:03 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


SpannerX: "Would Firefly exist without Cowboy Bebop?

That is a good question, and I doubt it.
"

I've always wondered if Firefly may have originally sprouted from the crew of the "Betty" in Aliens: Resurrection.
posted by the_artificer at 2:15 PM on May 8, 2013


The thing I like best about Bebop is that it's basically anime-trope-free. Apart from the woman in the pilot episode with the heaving bosom, there's not really anything in Cowboy Bebop that screams "OTAKU!". Most later anime I've seen, even when they're pretty good, have enough pandering and ridiculous fanservice that I just kind of dislike them. (Gurren Lagann is the only other one I've watched all the way through enthusiastically, and that's only because it takes the tropes to such extremes that they become funny.) Kids on the Slope was beautifully animated and the music was great, but so much of it was so stereotypical that I couldn't finish it. The exaggerated mannerisms of the protagonist and the love interest, and their stupid stupid interactions, were the worst part.

I guess appealing to the otaku audience is what makes money though? I've heard that even though they're a relatively small group, they buy enough merchandise that they have a huge effect on whether the show is successful. I don't know if this is true or not. Kids on the Slope definitely seemed targeted at high school students, so maybe they're an important audience too?

I imagine if you like anime you just have to learn how to tolerate these kinds of annoyances, and I just haven't. God knows there are stupid things about video games or fantasy novels or whatever, but I've been exposed to enough that I can sort of look past them and see the good things that you can't get from other media. But I do get the feeling that in the last decade, the pandering has really ramped up in anime. I'm not sure if there are economic reasons for this, or if I'm just imagining it.

Am I right in noticing this trend? Are there anime or studios that try to buck it?
posted by vogon_poet at 2:29 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been partial to Samurai Champloo since it came out. It took more time with the characterizations and the storytelling was more precise. Watanabe's overall use of sound, not just music, is something to watch out for. He is great at allowing the scenes to breathe when they require it.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:42 PM on May 8, 2013


There have been great anime series since Bebop, but nothing really like Bebop. The same can be said for a lot of anime series. There is nothing quite like Mushishi, nothing quite like FLCL, etc.

Planetes has been mentioned above, and this is quite close to Bebop in parts but hugely different in others. My all-time favourite series is the original 47 episode TV run of Patlabor, which on the surface might look like a typical BFOR* anime but is really a light comedy/drama. The movies it spawned are much heavier in tone.

* Big Fuck-Off Robot. A device so heavily used that there has been at least 2 entire series that exist solely as parody. Heck, on some level it is arguable that even the Patlabor TV series is a parody.
posted by lawrencium at 2:54 PM on May 8, 2013


So, what you're saying is that the work becomes a new genre itself?
posted by Tool of the Conspiracy at 3:04 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


I imagine if you like anime you just have to learn how to tolerate these kinds of annoyances,

Or people might actually, you know, like these tropes.
posted by MartinWisse at 3:04 PM on May 8, 2013


There are three recent series which really got it right. First was Puella Magi Madoka Magica, if you like the dark side. As someone mentioned above, it starts as a classical "magical girl" series, and then in episode 3 you suddenly realize that it's horror.

Second was Mouretsu Pirates. There isn't anything deep about it, but if you like scifi shows with good characterization and good story telling this one is for you. Truly an amazing experience, with a ridiculously huge cast, which never gets swamped by the cast.

Third was Girls und Panzer. This is a show that proves that you can tell an excellent story about an utterly absurd concept: tank combat as a varsity sport for girl's high schools. When it was announced everyone assumed it would be a niche title, but the story telling is so well done that it ended up being a breakout hit. (It's played a bit for farce at the beginning, but as the show goes on you get sucked in.)

I recommend all of them, but I'll warn you that Madoka will give you nightmares.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:13 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


CB is the only series where I never skipped the intro. Brilliant music, great tv.
posted by ersatz at 3:16 PM on May 8, 2013


Gunslinger Girls is an amines that subverts the viewer expectations, and manages to tell an interesting narrative about childhood.
posted by P.o.B. at 3:28 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh, for got about Gunslinger Girls. Love that one, a least the first series, never did see the second one.

I know it has some tropes, but Black Lagoon is pretty fun if you like guns and such with your Anime.
posted by SpannerX at 3:52 PM on May 8, 2013


Black Lagoon is awesome.
posted by MartinWisse at 4:39 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Out of Chocolate Pickle's list above, I've only watched Mouretsu Pirates, but I will second that as being excellent. All three of those shows can be streamed for free on Crunchyroll, btw (Mouretsu Pirates is listed as Bodacious Space Pirates).
posted by rifflesby at 5:18 PM on May 8, 2013


Cowboy Bebop drinking game: take a swig any time a character says "huh?"

That's the only cue you really need to get nicely buzzed.
posted by ShutterBun at 5:52 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Would Firefly exist without Cowboy Bebop?

I keep telling people I liked Firefly better when it was called Cowboy Bebop and all I get is dirty looks.

For recent amine, I rather liked The Tatami Galaxy. Strange, surreal, and distinctively animated. And a love story, sort of.
posted by davros42 at 6:23 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would also say Azumanga Daioh, though that's a very different sort of thing.

That's very nice, yes, it looks like a typical high school girl anime at first... until you realize that they really are typical high school girls. No high-powered martial arts, no ghost hunting, no ninjas, no spirit possessions, no card games, nothing supernatural at all. And it's chaste and doesn't go for fan service. And there's no romance angle either! And yet it's still weird, and funny, just because its characters are so strange. For example.... Example 2 Example 3 (warning: Japanese puns) Those little clips are literally the whole show -- it's a collection of vignettes.

vogon_poet: The thing I like best about Bebop is that it's basically anime-trope-free. [...] Am I right in noticing this trend? Are there anime or studios that try to buck it?

I think you're right-on, and that stuff is what drove me away from most anime.
posted by JHarris at 7:10 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Just last week I was listening to a mix I made of songs from the cowboy bebop soundtrack when I was sixteen. Every so often I'm reminded my taste wasn't all that crappy as a kid. It didn't include TANK! because that was just a little too iconic - listening to it as anything but a theme song just felt wrong. But there was piano black, the egg and you, NY RUSH, Blue, and more. I couldn't find a place to buy them, didn't have much money anyway, so I downloaded what I could find over limewire, waiting a couple hours for a single song at a max of 5 kb/s.

Yoko Kanno's soundtrack dictated what anime I'd watch for the next year: after Bebop, I devoured Escaflowne, Ghost in the Shell, and Wolf's Rain because she was involved. They're good, but they don't have the same sort of magic. It's also the reason why I scoured my dad's record collection and took out CD's from the library on jazz: most of the songs from bebop weren't bebop, but it suddenly became important for me to know what it was. Thelonious Monk and Charlie Parker, of course, but also John Coltrane, Charlie Mingus, Dizzy Gillespie. Give me a beat I can't dance to - it seemed to fit comfortably in my mind right next to the Le Tigre and Sleater-Kinney and other modern bands, a different type of revolution and punk. It seemed just as alive, at any rate. And, though the music wasn't the same, of course the show was named Bebop. The feeling just fit.

The show was pretty good, too. Haven't watched it in years, but damn did that thing have style. A mishmash of references and callbacks to other genres, somehow greater than the sum of its parts.

I remember that this was one of the first AMV's I ever downloaded, and the first one I ever fell in love with. To Paint it Black.
posted by dinty_moore at 7:24 PM on May 8, 2013 [1 favorite]


Okay, one more. And another. Actually most of these are about Osaka. "Get motivated!" And no collection of Azumanga Daioh clips is complete without... THE CAT BASTARD.
posted by JHarris at 7:26 PM on May 8, 2013 [2 favorites]


Anime anime anime! Yay! Some other recent series that I thought were very well done, Gosick and Mawaru Penguindrum. Gosick is a detective story utilizing a precocious little girl wearing full Victorian costume, solving crimes. Mawaru Penguindrum is a baffling tale in the vein of Mind Game but it has a great payoff in the end, imo.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica
(prev) really hit it out of the park as far as mahō shōjo anime goes.

Oh, and two old animes of the shamelessly violent school that haven't been mentioned yet are Vampire Hunter D and Ninja Scroll

Lastly, nthing Azumangah Daioh. I would never have watched it because I wasn't a fan of the schoolgirl thing but I picked it up for a friend's daughter and then ended up having to sit her for a couple of days and watched the whole damn thing. Tenderhearted and full of good cheer is the best way to describe it. Plus it has a baby Iriomote cat in it!

And AD led me to Lucky Star, then to K-On! and K-On!! and on to the last school days series I liked, Nichijou (Ordinary Life).

Yes, I have about three terabytes of anime, why do you ask?
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 7:42 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


Azumanga Daioh

Those little clips are literally the whole show -- it's a collection of vignettes.


This threw me at first too, and then I realized that Azumanga Daioh is just the Japanese high-school version of Peanuts. Strip away a layer of characterization, and Chiyo-chan is basically Snoopy -ears +pigtails.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:19 PM on May 8, 2013 [3 favorites]


This threw me at first too, and then I realized that Azumanga Daioh is just the Japanese high-school version of Peanuts.

Pretty literally. The manga source is a four-panel format (read top-to-bottom, right-to-left. The linked manga is two separate comics per page), nearly identical to the the standard newspaper North American comic style. When animated faithfully, it tends to produce a rhythm that's hard to miss.

Oh man, do I ever love Azumanga Daioh. It's pretty much the most adorable thing ever created, with the possible exception of the creator's follow-up, Yotsuba&!, the day-to-day adventures of an adopted 5-year-old. I'm surprised it hasn't been animated yet.

By the way, I love this thread so much. I've drifted away from anime over the years for various reasons, but this brings back all the best memories.
posted by figurant at 8:36 PM on May 8, 2013 [4 favorites]


Also adding that the king shit daddy of all AMVs makers is AMV Hell. If you've watched a lot of anime over the years there will be jokes in those that will SLAY you. And they're all longish format and they have the playlists if there's an anime that catches your eye that you might want to check out.
posted by Purposeful Grimace at 1:14 AM on May 9, 2013


Oh yes, if you liked Azumanga Daioh you have to check out Nichijou. (Fun game if you haven't watched it before - try to guess who will narrate the preview before the credits end.)
posted by lucidium at 5:42 AM on May 9, 2013 [1 favorite]


no collection of Azumanga Daioh clips is complete without... THE CAT BASTARD.

Surely you mean no collection of video clips is complete without the cactus bastard?
posted by 23 at 9:20 AM on May 9, 2013


Went through a few more Azumanga Daioh clips tonight. It really is a sweet little show, although a lot of the humor is cultural I think now that I look at it.

Still though... Osaka's haunted pet cafe idea. HANSHIN

Teacher's driving.
posted by JHarris at 2:51 AM on May 10, 2013


We no longer fear rollercoasters.
posted by JHarris at 8:12 AM on May 10, 2013


There was mention earlier of Afro Samurai and how it was a rip-off of Champloo, but thinking about it this morning I remembered the manga came out long before the anime. Both of those shows ran in 04, so Afro actually has the claim to originality. I like both for different reasons anyway and don't care about the similarity.
Samurai 7 is a reimagining of The Seven Samurai, and is also pretty great.
posted by P.o.B. at 10:05 AM on May 10, 2013


     /\      /\
    /  \____/  \
   /            \
  /              \
  |   O      O   |
  |\____________/|
  |/\  /\  /\  /\|
  \  \/  \/  \/  /
   \------------/

c'mon and pet me heh heh heh
people who've seen Azumanga will understand this
posted by JHarris at 7:56 PM on May 10, 2013 [2 favorites]


         /"\
     /"\|\./|/"\
    |\./|   |\./|
    |   |   |   |
    |   |   |   |/"\
    |   |   |   |\./|
    |   |   |   |   |
/"\\|   |   |   |   |
|_/ |   |   |   |   |
|   |           |   |
|   |               |
|   '               |
\                   |
 \                 /
  \               /
   \.            /
     |          |
     |          |

posted by lucidium at 4:22 AM on May 11, 2013 [3 favorites]


Black Lagoon is basically the Cowboy Bebop of the '00s. Perhaps not in the same level of quality or importance, but certainly in the same sense of style, setting, and characters.
posted by Apocryphon at 1:39 PM on May 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


An interview with Man Faye:
I assume your costume got quite mixed reviews. Did the negative attention bother you at all?

Not really, I was picked on a lot as a kid, and I learned how to deal with negative attention—namely to own it.

...

Do you have any reason for prolonging the costume? Why keep doing it?

Well, there are a few reasons I still don the golden hot pants. One is the massive swell of fan mail I get. I've gotten quite a few very touching emails about how I inspired people to do everything from wear the racy costume they never had the nerve to wear, to come out of the closet to their parents.
There's a lot about being banned from Anime Expo in 2004, and the double standards around cosplaying.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:43 AM on May 16, 2013


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