Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 6 – Sympathy for the Devil

Greetings my Dear Island Guests, today’s first content cocktail contains a lot of preservatives as we look at those who do not age!  These are served in a somewhat darker cocktail. Packed with both sweet and bitter flavours. This cocktail is best when you drink it at our poolside on a moonlit night! The episode in question is strong in atmosphere but doesn’t have the kick some of the others had so far! So let’s take a sip and enjoy our content cocktail.

The Summary

A nightmare , of what seems visions of the past,  place Spike on an operating table! It isn’t a very hygenic operating room because I am pretty sure I saw fish float with the organs.. or they put a tube with live fish between it.. which is just plain weird.. message received either way… these are probably not good guy doctors.  When Spike wakes up he is in a blues bar. A kid is playing Harmonica on stage, it almost seems as if he is cosplaying Lupin the Third.  The bar is seedy and smokey and just the perfect amount of grime! Yet then a horrible crime happens! Faye , who is back at the Bebop, is rifling through the fridge to find it empty, showing the group is still out of money.. The only thing in the fridge is dog food for Ein, who happily barks to receive this blessing!  Then Faye eats herself! She tells Ein to work for his food and looks at a bounty..pondering if she can make the guys get that money for her!  Faye loses lots of points from me.

Back in the bar Jet has joined Spike! It seems they are indeed after that Bounty… a man nicknamed Giraffe , he doesn’t have a long neck so it is quite random.   Another Bounty Hunter named Fatty River (yes I remember these types of names) , who IS fat is one the case as well. Leaving Spike to deal with Giraffe.  Giraffe is following the kid and some wheelchair bloke. Spike decides to pursue them in his fighter. Yet when he gets to the hotel they were heading , Giraffe ends up falling through a window with a huge gunshot wound. While Spike catches him.. he can’t prevent him from falling, the man dies anyway but not before handing Spike a ring and telling him to not be fooled by his looks and to protect him.

Having failed yet another Bounty Spike and Jet decide to do some more investigation into this. Apparently  the wheel chaired man is called Zebra.. they were partners in leading a group of raiders. While on a terf dispute.. things went awry and Zebra was said to have betrayed Giraffe. Thus him wanting revenge.  This happened ten years ago.. but when Zebra showed up again he was wheelchair bound and with this harmonica kid. When looking for info about the kid, Jet finds him in a 30 year old magazine. Spike follows them after a new concert and discovers the boy named Wen is actually well over 50 years old. Something in his body got changed when something called “The Astral Gate” accident happened. An event that seems to have devastated earth. The Astral gate blew up the moon and high powered meteors showered the earth charing Wen’s mother and father.. but their corpses shielded him from dying.

Now he is completely immortal.. even gunshots do not kill him, so Spike is out of his league. In a chase Wen dumps Zebra on him..showing the man to be in a completely catatonic state.  He is hooked up to a machine that can read his memories and we see Giraffe was trying to save his friend from Wen..instead of getting revenge. The ring is deduced to be a meteorite piece and with it..Wen can be killed..or so they theorise. A Bullet is made and Spike chases Wen into the desert by blowing up his taxi! The boy is completely unharmed. Spike uses the special bullet after being shot at a few times and shoots the boy in the head. The boy  rapidly ages (way more than 50 years)  and dies. Spike tosses his Harmonica and yells BANG.

The Positives

I have very mixed feelings about this episode,  which makes sense, coming after the incredible 5th episode. Self contained this episode was pretty great. There was a neat little mystery to unpack in the form of what’s going on. The Whole Zebra , Giraffe, Wen situation is pretty interesting.  Though somewhat obvious as well. It might be me.. but when I see a kid with raven black hair, cold eyes playing a Harmonica in a smoked up blues Café.. at the skill level he does…  you know he is evil. Blues should only be played if you have a pained heart and have experienced something..and he did. Yet that does show the power of this shows music. Regardless of the obviousness it was a pretty sweet little adventure to see unfold. I was fooled into believing Giraffe was just working with Wen so finding out he is basically a vegetable to be used as a doll to make the boy have a parent so he can get into places sounds quite cruel and exactly the type of stuff I want to see in Cowboy Bebop. Atmosphere 10/10.

I also liked the idea of the Astral Gate accident. Telling us what happened to earth by making it relevant to the plot is one of the better ways you can do exposition. The incident seems pretty gruesome and it opens up possibilities for some interesting effects. I really digged how gruesome it was depicted with Wen popping up on a devastated earth by having his fathers charred corpse on top of him. It shows both love and sorrow and makes the situation quite real. A parent would probably shield their kid, even though I would use kids as a shield, such trauma would cause the boy to go pretty bonkers.  I get where his Blues capabilities come from. It also gives so much flavour to earth!  Which I assume is mostly desolated.  I am not sure I have seen it yet.. I don’t think so.. but then we saw a lot of desert so maybe one of those. Unsure! Regardless, a very cool world event and credits for the amazing world building yet again. It makes sense that people would fan out after such an event resulting in this more nomadic and .. settlement based,  living style we see in Bebop. Pinkie is impressed.

The Negatives

That is also why this episode annoyed me quite a bit.  This show is great at it’s writing but Wen I found a pretty terrible character. Sure he is a pained “antagonist” of the episode.   But he acts as if he is hundreds of years old. In the end when he says “I can finally die” .. he is only like 60-ish.  Maybe late 50’s or early 60’s.  He lost his parents sure.. but so did many people seemingly.   He doesn’t seem to be off THAT bad that he has this deep desire to die at age 60 to me.  The heck is going on! It really confused me a lot.  Maybe being an 8 or 10 year old or whatever he is forever makes things annoying but I am just not buying he is this tired of life already. Even if he was , it made no sense to kill Giraffe who had the ring, let him kill you with it then?! I might have missed something here but Wen did not make sense to me at all.  The way he mummified at the end.. that’s not what a 60 year old looks like!! It seemed like they forgot just how old he was and just made him like 300 or something. I really did not believe the character.. I believed his music.. but something felt really off for me.

For some reason I also could not escape the idea that this episode was solely created to tell the story of the Astral Gate Incident. As much as I love this way of exposition I really got a feeling this episode happened for expositions sake. As if one episode later will be set on the moon or a destroyed earth and you need to tell us why it is in the state it is. I can’t fully explain it but this episode felt a bit cheap to me.  Giraffe and Zebra really felt throwaway.  The other bounties so far at least had connections to bigger gangs, or organisations this one feels so “random”.  Besides Giraffe , Zebra and Wen there is nothing behind it.. or at least we don’t get to see it at all. While Giraffe trying to get Zebra back is charming to see we never had any memories of how the two were buddies so his good guy act did not have THAT much impact either.  I love myself a good Bromance.. but when we have to assume Bromance solely on the line “give him back” it lacks that spark! I wasn’t even in a sour mood or something when I watched this episode.. I felt it was good on some levels but it just felt as SUCH an empty episode to me. I felt nothing for the trio this episode was about.

The Score

That is why I score this episode , just an Okiwi. I liked the elements in there and for the series a lot of cool things were established. I loved the music, I loved the lore but as an episode this did absolutely nothing for me. I wasn’t bored , I wasn’t THAT annoyed I just experienced nothing.  I saw some cool sets.. I do liked the headshot.. and the Bang in the end was enough to kind of make me smile but in comparison to all the other episodes this wasn’t it! It is weird though because I don’t think of this show any less. Normally I wonder stuff like.. could I be falling out of love with this show.. is this a turning point for me.. No.. this episode literally did that much of nothing for me. 

Had they just have Wen be dead by the headshot.. had he shown an intention to die or  something to make this tale feel more consistent this would probably be up there with my favourite episodes so far. I could just not get over that thing that I feel like he was overly aged.  Maybe because I watch so many vampire shows. 50 years feels so little. Heck even in anime we have seen so much older girls and boys who don’t complain about being 60. I just did not resonate with Wen.. . I did not understand him at all and it completely tanked this episode for me! Luckily.. I am pretty sure.. he is dead!

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Princess Pinkie

A 34 year old, super pink, Geek blogger, from the Netherlands behind the keyboard. A 21 year old , Unicorn-Duck Princess VBlogger on the border of imagination and reality!

2 thoughts on “Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 6 – Sympathy for the Devil”

  1. “50 years feels so little. Heck even in anime we have seen so much older girls and boys who don’t complain about being 60. ”

    I will certainly complain about my 60’th birthday if/when I am fortunately misfortunate enough to have that happen.

    Simply because, if time is a “currency” that is spent on existence, then birthdays represent a substantive and steady debt where maintenance on it is a source of constant financial future ruin.

    i.e. When the simulation used a D&D style PRNG to instantiate everyone and dolled out “years-of-life coins” (kinda like “dogecoins” but actually valuable), then it really doesn’t matter how many coins you spawned with… there is always going to be a “negative linear relationship” between time and your “life quotient” bank account.

    Perhaps… a little “glass half empty” but if you ask me tomorrow or any other day, I will likely have a different take. Such is the chaotic nature of the pseudorandom number generator.

    Anyway, in 1977 Steve Miller wrote the lyrics:

    “…Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’ Into the future, I want to fly like an eagle, To the sea…”

    But… it’s important to keep in mind that Steve Miller snorted a lot of illicit substances and if you think about it… those lyrics make no sense if my stupid coin==life analogy above is to even remotely work because life coins must be spent/left in the past as a sort of “Hansel Gretel Breadcrumb Trail” not “Quantum Leaped” into the future and not everybody gets to be Scott Backula.

    So in conclusion… I guess what I’m really trying to say is… other than the fact that I intend to complain about getting older… I agree with your assessment. 😛

    Like

    1. Oh I complain about getting older as well..but I doubt I want to die by the time I reach 60.. I do not complain on the age so much as the invevitable decay that comes with that higher number!If time was a currency the supermarket would be a weird place!

      Liked by 1 person

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