Cowboy Bebop Sessions 8 and 9

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 8: Waltz for Venus

The flight attendant announces that Venus has been terraformed, but the floating cloud-like plants used to terraform the planet can cause Venus sickness. Inside the airplane-like spacecraft, we see a baby floating in zero g. Hijackers named Huey, Dewey, and Louie take over the plane. Spike doesn’t put his hands behind his head at the hijacker’s command. We find out he’s wearing a blindfold with eyes on it to look like he’s awake. He punches a hijacker while stretching after a yawn, dodges by leaning forward, then headbutts seemingly by accident. When another hijacker charges him, he flips him over, then apologizes. Faye sprays another hijacker with mist to knock her out. I think this is the first time we see them actually catch a bounty. I guess it’s bound to happen eventually.

Faye heads off to spend her money at the casino. Venus has architecture based on Istanbul. There are many different people represented on the plane and in the crowd. Roco Bonnaro, a suspicious man on board the same plane, tries to stab Spike, but he easily dodges. Roco asks Spike to teach him his moves. Spike says no. When they get outside, Spike’s voice is high pitched due to the helium in the atmosphere. The guy offers Spike a pill to counteract this. Spike agrees to train him, explains that martial arts is more about being calm and loose like water not hard and tense. (Bruce Lee, who Spike is based on, described his fighting style the same way. In a later session, Spike says he practices Jeet Kun Do, the martial art form invented by Lee.) Roco hands Spike a package then runs away from some guys chasing him.

Jet shows Spike another bounty. One of the members of the gang is Roco. The gang stole a plant that cures Venus Sickness, called Grey Ash. Spike finds one of these in the package Roco gave him. Spike looks for Roco, finds his little sister Stella. She lost her sight due to Venus Sickness. She shows Spike a music box Roco sent her. Spike finds seeds taped inside.

Roco is captured by his old crew. His boss burns his forehead with a cigar. Faye shoots up a bar to find where Roco is. Next, she barges in on two men having sex and sticks a gun in one of their mouths and asks where Roco is. It turns out to be a wild goose chase.

Spike meets Roco at the cathedral. Gets into a shootout with the gang. (What’s with all the shootouts at cathedrals?) Faye shows up with her zipcraft and starts shooting. Jet reminds her there’s no reward if they’re dead. Roco remembers the move Spike taught him, then gets shot and drops the plant. The glass case shatters and the plant turns to grey ash.

Spike visits Stella in the hospital. With the seeds, her eyesight can be cured. She asks where Roco is, but Spike won’t say. Feeling his face, she knows he’s dead. Spike buys an apple and watches as dandelion-like seeds float down from the cloud like flowers. A rare tear jerker episode.

Next time, Ed, full name Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV, who we’ve only seen in the opening credits so far, will finally join the cast.

As we’ve come to expect from Cowboy Bebop, different episodes are based on different genres. In this session, Stella and Roco are based on the main characters from the 1951 noir film On Dangerous Ground.

Session 9: Jamming with Edward

We open on a lonely satellite which decides to recreate the Nasca lines. Ed, a net diver on Earth, (who was partly based on Yoko Kanno, who did the music for the series) listens to a weather report announcing slight rock showers this morning. This show does a really good job of differentiating each location. Every planet, moon, and asteroid has its own distinctive feel to it. We see the moon has a big chunk missing from it. Perhaps from the hypergate explosion mentioned in an earlier episode. I like that we get to learn about the world Cowboy Bebop takes place in a little bit at a time.

Behind her goggles, Ed is in cyberspace which appears like an ocean of web pages and animations that she’s navigating through. Accessing a list of ships visiting earth, she’s excited the Bebop is here. Walks on her hands and types with her toes. The listed purpose for the Bebop is vacation, unlike other ships there for business or private. The Bebop is listed as a fishing boat, which is what Faye called it when she first saw it. Spike’s gender is listed as M and Faye’s gender is listed as F, but Jet’s gender isn’t listed at all. Maybe because he’s a cyborg? Their dog Ein is listed as one of the crew. In addition to the Bebop itself, there are three shipplanes (previously called zipcraft) listed: Swordfish II, Hammerhead, and Redtail. Names in keeping with the Bebop being a fishing ship.

Ed gets thrown through the air by a meteor impact. Meyuri Kellerman, an expert in the supernatural, is interviewed on TV about the lines created by the lonely satellite. She claims it’s caused by aliens, but news anchor Tom Wills says it’s actually someone who hacked into a satellite and has a huge bounty on their head. Makes you wonder why he invited her on his show in the first place.

Faye thinks hackers are all nerdy guys, Jet says that may have been true when she was young, but that was a long time ago. He knows she’s older than she appears to be! We learn due to the gate accident 50 years ago, moon rocks started to shower earth. People moved underground and put supercomputers into orbit to stay in contact with those in space. Why does the news anchor need an expert to explain what should be common knowledge?

Police show up to arrest Radical Edward. She hacks their ship, flies it around like a toy, and crashes it. Jet and Faye search for the hacker while Spike takes a nap. Ed hacks into the Bebop. Finds out they’re looking for the hacker. Finds out no one hacked the satellite. She refers to herself in the third person. She talks to the satellite, gives it the nickname MPU. (MPU actually appears in the opening credits for every episode, but I don’t think we see MPU again after this.)

Jet asks around. Everyone thinks the hacker is Edward, but everyone gives different descriptions of who he is. After interviewing several people, Jet says Radical Edward is a 7-foot-tall ex-basketball player, pro-hindu guru drag queen alien!

The police jam MPU’s signal. I like that when Ed hacks, cartoonish animations play on the screen, and text distorts. Ed contacts the Bebop and tells them what happened. Faye promises an unspecified favor in return. They need to download MPU manually since the bounty is on the satellite itself. Attack satellites shoot at Spike when he gets too close.

Spike and Jet turn in a copy of MPU on a floppy disk for the bounty, but the police won’t pay. Ed wanted to join the Bebop, but Faye breaks her promise. Ed takes control of the Bebop so it returns for her. Ed knows the Bebop crew usually don’t get their bounty, so why does she want to join them? Leaving Earth, we see that South America has a huge smiley face on it.

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