Jolly good to see you all again steampunk people! Paradise’s week of anime concludes with an unexpectedly strange episode of Cowboy Bebop! I never expected monkeys to show up! While this episode to me may not be close to how amazing the third episode was , I had an amazing time and thus yet again the strength of the week was in the tailend of things. Join me as we see Faye join the Bebop crew in this fourth episode of an all time classic.
Faye’s ship has run out of fuel and she is drifting in Orbit of a planet called Ganymede.. or well google shows it’s actually one of the moon’s of Jupiter. People mostly ignore her calls and pass her by. When some debrief floats by however she spacewalks towards it hoping to loot some propellent but what she finds is much different. She finds a dying man who hands her a container with something unknown. Hoping it might be worth a lot, Faye goes back to begging for help! Breaking the man’s wishes to not look at the item. It is unknown however what exactly she has acquired. A fun set up and I do love how Faye really fills the role of Femme Fatale including their classic shortcommings. It really felt like I was reading or watching one of those classic noir scenes, where the tough woman finds herself in high water. Speaking of Water.. Spike and Jet are having breakfast… On Ganymede! What are the chances! There they discover a potential bounty who orders some kind of sea creature.. in the rudest way possible. A few Eco-Terrorist lead by what looks like Josuke Higashikata (Jojo’s Part 4) actual mother.. a woman named Twinkle Maria Murdockc then murder him for it.
Jet realises the woman has a 25 million bounty and Spike takes her to his ship. On their way into orbit to strike a deal they also happen to stumble across Faye Valentine and pick her up again! Two bounties?! That must be good to be true! And so it turns out to be.. while Spike tries to break open the container Faye has brought along, Jet discovers the bounty on Twinkle Maria has been lifted. Because she holds the planet hostage. She possesses a virus called monkey business.. a bio weapon that makes humans devolve back into a monkey like state… Super Mario Bros movie memories made this quite delightful. Thus bounty hunters have to let the woman walk free… and since the government of Ganymede doesn’t follow her exact terms she launches a missile with Monkey Business towards them. The bounty now reinstated causes Spike and Faye to work together to stop the missile and capture miss Twinkle. Going through a Hypergate thing when the missile goes off. The Ganymede people close the gate which would leave Spike and Faye trapped forever. Dodging and trying to destroy the Monkey Missiles.. heroes barely manage to escape but not Miss Twinkle.. as she swears revenge.. the content of the container Faye was handed falls out of her pocket. Spike broke it earlier and saw her reaction and figured out what it must be.. thus leaving her to slowly turn into a monkey trapped in Hyperspace.
I love how Bebop is a show that isn’t afraid to have fun with itself. Eco-Terrorists that try to turn humanity into monkeys? I really love the idea! Faye Floating in her ship with just bags of chocolate, salt sugar.. and chicken with rice floating around seems so mundane yet funny at the same time. Like it’s a joke on astronaut food, all in the most basic of brown bags. It makes this world feel so “lived in”. It’s sci-fi but it deals with the same trouble we have.. an overzealous PETA or .. whatever those guys from Whale Wars were called, car trouble and trying to flirt your way to being saved. It is quaint, just pushed into a hyper caricature of itself by adding cyberpunk sci-fi elements to it. Added with a lot of Film-Noir tropes. I can not fully describe it but every scenario just feels so “right”.. like “this is the correct way to tell this tale for “this series’. The twists, the dysfunctionality it is like watching one of those youtube videos of seeing a machine cut playdough in super neat chunks. I am just so intensely satisfied. Another big thing that is really catchy is that the main characters nearly always seem to have fun.. sure there are goals they pursue for other reasons as well.. but they are also having fun and that emotion really carries over. We have fun “WITH” them rather than having fun because we see them do stuff.
I really liked the animations in this episode as well, the way Spike charges up his little electrical beam, the way the missile splits into several pieces.. because Maria made a weapon that can defend against typical weaponry. There is a level of mechanicalness to it! Beams charge up, gun turrets need to move into aim, a missle detaches a lid before it splits up into tinier parts. Yet that energy seems to come from somewhere, the move of the turret isn’t exactly fluid as it might not move from a neutral position but revolve back from a less fortunate position. There is something really satisfying about seeing Spike and Faye lean onto their dashboard to make their vehicle go faster.. while of course it doesn’t make any difference. It all feels real and thought out and because of it you can really get into the action not just because it is epic but because it has impact as well. Motion not only serves the scene but is subject to the world and it really makes it seem more lively and believable.
The episode does not escape a few flaws, my main gripe is the whole.. “oh look at the chances we end up in the same place as Faye” thing. Lots of anime do this.. but off alll the moons on Jupiter you just happen to go to the same one she is orbiting. And on your way out of orbit you stumble across here? While earlier it is established she has been there for a while?! It’s a bit lazy and I know this show can do better. The whole convenience thing could have been solved with a single line like “It has been months since you escaped” or “We heard rumors you might be around here” but instead they wonder how she could have spent all the money from last episode already. While this also signifies a passage of time it is not defined as a long time.. rather as a short time.. making the convenience feel more real. It is super common in anime or western media to see but in something as large as our solar system I would love to see at least some sort of explanation.
I also think the eco-terrorists are a bit over designed. While they eat with Mamma Maria they have their faces revealed and it is the faces of people that fit the stereotypical eco terrorist. I am totally on board with that, however when they take out their guns and prepare to kill they have these weird seel helmets or whatever the creature is. That felt slightly too much for me . Twinkle Maria’s design is nice but doesn’t seem to eco-terroristy to me, to be fair she is ruling it more like a mob-boss and that she does look like but I would have loved to see a bit more of an eco-terrorist in her rather than just a money hungry mob-boss using eco-terrorists on her behalf. The way she steps up in the beginning to defend animals was fun.. but she lets go of that behaviour later in the episode which I think is a bit of a shame.
Cowboy Bebop is once again among the best episodes I have seen this week. The plot may border on being too silly, but for me it is something filled with nostalgia and a cheeky little charm, where the creator isn’t too afraid to have fun. The way Faye is reintroduced to the group requires you to suspend your disbelief quite hard.. but it is worth it to see how well see interacts with the group and how in her place she feels. The twist ending of the space fight feels like a bit of an afterthought.. with a fake out that doesn’t do anything but that comes as fast as it went and when push comes to shove we got a whole lot more positive things than negatives causing a high but not perfect score.
While in the large scale of the show I probably will not think about this episode a lot.. the inner workings of the show are very much shown are at it’s best here. Like an amazing tech demo telling me that the journey that will follow is absolutely amazing and I just had such a great time at watching things move,, seeing spaceships go woosh and big beams go mmzzaappp! It’s like one of those Lego Technic bulldozers or cars. I do not care that much about the package as a whole.. it’s fine but kind of forgettable.. but if I stare at the loose parts and admire how everything works.. I can stare at it for hours and just be mesmerised and entertained..admiring how well everything is put together.