After learning that Cowboy Bebop is getting a live-action remake, I decided to revisit the much-beloved anime series from the 90s (although not aired in the U.S. until the early 2000s). Many people think of it as the best anime series ever, and with good reason. My episode reviews will contain spoilers, so be sure to watch the series before you read this.
Session 2: Stray Dog Strut
Spike and Jet watch a TV show for bounty hunters called Big Shot. The hosts, Punch and Judy, are dressed in old west outfits and tell bounty hunters about criminals with bounties on their heads. The bounty this episode is Abdul Hakim, an animal thief and a good fighter. He’s had plastic surgery, so no one knows what he looks like now. Abdul bears a resemblance to Kareem Abdul Jabbar’s character in the Bruce Lee movie Game of Death and one of the fight scenes is lifted from this movie. Spike, of course, is a Bruce Lee stand-in for most of the series. So while last episode was based on a Western, this episode is based on a kung fu movie.
The Bebop is falling apart. Spike and Jet need money for repairs. Spike gets a call from Doc, who was beaten up by Abdul. He shows Spike what Abdul looks like after plastic surgery. This episode takes place in a Chinese district on Mars.
Abdul is not a nice guy. He makes someone swallow a bug for bumping into him. Someone steals his brief case, which contains a special data dog. Abdul sees a fortune teller, who tells him where the dog is, so just like last episode, fortune tellers seem to be legit in this universe.
Spike and Jet once again fail to catch their bounty, but they don’t leave completely empty-handed. They now have a dog, specifically a Welsh Corgis named Ein. He’s a data dog, so he’s special in some way, although as I recall, he acts like a regular dog in pretty much every episode. He does finally do some computer hacking later on, but we’ll have to wait until session 23 to see it.
Session 3: Honky Tonk Women
In this episode, we meet Faye Valentine, one of the four members of the crew featured in the opening credits. (We won’t be meeting Edward, the fourth member of the crew, until session 9.) Faye is called Poker Alice, Lady Luck, and Queen of Hearts even though she’d have to be 200 years old to be the original person with those nicknames. Unfortunately, she gets objectified by several men during the episode including getting groped and leered at.
This episode takes place in a casino orbiting Mars. Jet had a dream in which he receives a prophecy from Charlie Parker and subsequently ends up winning big. So that makes three episodes in a row in which prophecies come true. One of the themes this episode is, if you want to receive, you have to give.
There’s a funny moment when Spike is told there’s no smoking allowed. He swallows his cigarette to get in, then spits it out later. Spike helps the three old men from Tijuana win a card game. I hadn’t realized they were recurring characters until this rewatch, but the three old men actually show up quite frequently throughout the series.
In order to make her debt go away, Fay agrees to beat someone at blackjack, but she mistakes him for Spike. Spike and Jet catch Faye and find out she has a large bounty on her head. She refers to the Bebop as an old fishing ship and calls herself a Romany, although she might be lying. We also learn that Jet used to be with ISSP Special Forces, so he’s kind of an ex-cop.
The villain this episode is Gordon, the casino owner. They make a deal to exchange the special poker chip for money, but Gordon double-crosses them. Faye ends up escaping with the money and kills the bad guys. There’s a cool scene in which Spike is floating through space in a space suit. He uses magnetic boots to attach to a ship’s hull, then turns off the villain’s magnets and pushes him into space.
By the end of the episode, Spike and Jet end up with the special poker chip, but it’s no longer worth any money. It’s just the same as any other poker chip. Good for only one bet. Easy come, easy go.