Cowboy BeBop ends

I just finished watching the final disc of BeBop. Steven said he got “mugged” by the ending (his minireview here). I am frankly, dazed.

Interestingly, Madeline Ashby at is beginning a rewatch of BeBop, which is pretty timely! I have to agree with everything she said about the series as a whole in her first post on the first episode:

Bebop has what most live-action SF television from English-speaking countries does not: a definite end date, a genuinely compelling story, great production value, interesting speculations on technology and a merciful lack of deus ex machina. It’s a series set in the future, not about the future, and is thus liberated from making any sweeping statements regarding the future. Perhaps for that reason, the world of Cowboy Bebop is neither a sun-dappled utopia nor an unforgiving dystopia. We watch it from the point of view of bounty hunters, so we see the dirty cops and the crime syndicate lowlifes and the mom’s basement-terrorists with delusions of grandeur, but 2071 remains a recognizable iteration of our current world. Ganymede fishing trawlers can be converted to achieve escape velocity, bounties on cross-colony fugitives can be paid from ATM’s, hyperspace toll gates are vulnerable to bugs in proprietary software and need regular firmware upgrades. Its most optimistic prediction is also its most accurate: every colony from Io to Titan is full of signage in Chinese, Arabic, and Spanish. There are brown people, black people and pale people with dreds, turbans and mohawks. Watanabe’s future is off-planet, and everybody’s there.

Given how strongly I loved this series and Champloo, I wonder if there’s a good label for this type of anime genre. What do space cowboys and samurai breakdancers have in common?

Anyway, my comment on the ending is as follows:

Continue reading “Cowboy BeBop ends”

Samurai Champloo: initial thoughts

Champloo is (so far) a tale of two samurai who hate each other, but who are (ostensibly) helping a young girl find a mysterious third samurai who “smells of sunflowers”. It’s set in historical Japan but has giant disclaimers about historical accuracy in the title credits (which are annoyingly set to harsh hip hop music; thankfully the actual score during the episodes is much more bearable). The basic theme so far is that Japan has slipped from its moral moorings, and now power matters more than honor – with many of the secondary characters they meet (so far) being enmeshed in the transition between the older tradition and the new lawless era, particularly the two rival yakuza gangs that they deal with in episodes 3 and 4.

It’s a pretty gripping story. It’s actually quite violent, with plenty of blood and suggestive sexuality (but not overt). However it doesn’t stray into gore, but rather conveys the brutality of the era quite well in a restrained way – characters limbs are severed, but you don’t seethe actual limb, just the agony on the loser’s face, for example, or a fatal blow is inflicted below camera and the victim’s mouth fillls with blood. The characters so far have managed to distinguish themselves from each other, and the usual samurai stereotypes, quite well. The first disc has done enough to capture my interest that I’ve added the whole series to my queue.