Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 4 – Gateway Shuffle

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.

The Summary

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.

The Positives

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 Negatives

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. 

The Score

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.

Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 3- Honkey Tonk Woman

Konichi…Wooohooo! This was such an awesome episode of anime to experience! After knowing more or less nothing of this show before.. This was the first episode I truly had expectations off…  I wanted to see something with gambling, seedy crime ..smuggling stuff!  The underbelly stuff of Mars that we established in the last episode.. Okay so we weren’t totally on Mars but it was darn close.. I got so much of what I asked and I got so much more in the third episode of Cowboy Bebop.

 The Summary

We do begin our adventure in the streets of Mars.. at least I think it mars.. it looks like Macau with all the chinese lettering and I feel that’s what they were going for with Mars, plus the planet is red.  So yes.. A woman is heading into a herbal store.. just to find herself being attacked by goons.. But this is not an ordinary woman. She comes prepared.. she takes out a machine gun and shoots at the shadowy figures outside the store.. teaching the friendly store keeper a lesson in violence. In response.. The henchmen shoot up the guys store with a gatling gun and the woman finds herself captured. She gets taken as a space variant of a cruise ship that has this rotating roulette wheel as an engine thingy.. lot’s of spaceships have these spinny things…but this one is a roulette table.. It feels so campy but just the right amount. On that ship is a Mafia boss who calls the girl Poker Alice who is allegedly over 200 years old. Is she an android?! Why am I so obsessed with Robots lately! .. Regardless she allegedly has a huge gambling debt which she can pay with one job.. it just happens that Spike stumbles upon that job

Spike and Jet are having a nice relaxing night out.. .. Jet sticks to slots .. and things mechanical while Spike’s sharp mind draws him to the Black Jack table.. the girl is the dealer of the table and uses her cheating skills to scam him.. thinking it is part of her job!   A guy in an outfit like him.. and looking kind of but really not all that much the same was supposed to lose everything and hand over a final chip.. that is actually A CHIP .. that unlocks some super hacking thing. Spike catches her cheating and has some fun and walks off the table with his last chip.. Thinking she somehow blew it and wanting to repay her debt she follows him and Spike ends up bumping into the guy he is mistaken for.. they end up swapping chips in the old.. duplicate item falls on the floor sjtick. The girl chases Spike and ends up getting captured by him..  getting locked up in the bathroom.. Ein the dog .. Now the named guards her while the other two investigate the chip and discover her name is Faye Valentine.. a woman with a 6 million bounty on her head. Trying to decide whether to give her to the police or sell the chip to the crime lord type.. they end up going for the latter which obviously ends up being a trap. We get an awesome space scene.. Faye escapes and after some more epic space action we see Faye take off and Spike still having the chip. I assumed she would join the crew by the end of this episode but looks like we need more time! And I like that.

The Positives

Without a shadow of a doubt in my mind, Cowboy Bebop was the best thing I watched this week! And I watched the finale of Flip Flappers so that is saying a lot. It encapsulated my love for the OLD Star Wars ( I really enjoyed the prequels but none of the sequels did it for me.. I liked Rogue One and Solo well enough) . I deeply enjoyed the atmosphere,  the action, the characters and the amazing will  sets and action pieces. Faye Valentine is a really interesting character, there is a mystery of her age.. her violent tendencies, at the beginning there is so much to unpack. I do feel like she will join the team but I am not sure yet.. but I think I saw a shadow of her ship in that funky little intro! She kind of fills the function of a rogue of the party with stealing and sleight of hand. It works well with Spike who is the muscles of the group punching and kicking his enemies. She seems more heavy range based.  So I already like the sense of diversity! Ein was a good boy in this episode though it did not seem not nearly as intelligent as the last episode. Jet in a white suit looks pretty amazing. 

The Zero G/ Gravity Boots fight  on top of the casino spaceship was something else.. so many moving pieces are utilized.  Spike throws the chip in low gravity.. uses the gravity  boots to have a very different momentum, to  dodge bullets, he uses the mechanics to defeat an enemy all while there is a little ship floating around that is being attacked by missiles. I really loved that action scene.  I also very much enjoyed the casiono chase as well, the use of colour in that scene.. the way Faye froze when she was revealed to be a cheater.. unable to repay her debt.  There’s a way the motion has been done that really sold the scene for me. The show caters HEAVILY into tropes.. and yes even for an anime that was released in 1998.. these tropes we get might be older than me.. yet for some reason it really works. For some reason I want those Film Noir tropes to happen. I also love how everything is just oddball enough.. the world is quite grim and raw.. but it is also funny and charming.  The Bebop might feel cold and grey but by seeing Ein run around in it.. it’s quite cute.  There are plenty of jokes that relieve the “dark” and keep things consumable for me.

The Negatives

I have very little negatives about this episode . and when I saw few I kind of mean none.. So it’s nitpicking time! I found the roulette wheel on the big cruise ship a bit too garish and cheap. It’s a fun effect  but the way these space ships are built no one would see it.. yep .. that’s about all I have as a negative. I still really want to see more of Mars as it looks so cool.. but for now I can’t really use not seeing that as a negative either because it looks like we might see more of Mars in the next episode so yeah.. I am honestly unsure how to fill this  segment.  I just loved this episode that much.

Thematically Cowboy Bebop might not be my show entirely.. but there is just a way that it is presented that makes it so appealing and a delight to watch. The cyberpunk atmosphere,  is normally not something Pinkie enjoys..  and I do have issues with seeing cliches  be used at times.. it can make a series predictable .. as if I know the blueprint. With Cowboy Bebop it’s not the cliches that drive the plot it’s the personality of everyone and the world.. The cliches happen in the world as a reward. To strengthen that atmosphere.. let’s compare this for example to  let’s say.. Sailor Moon or more so Pretty Cure.. In Pretty Cure.. we get a monster of the week and one monster does fears, the other creates strife in a group.. the cliché is the engine. Here Spike is the engine..  the cliché just makes it more enjoyable and delightful. It’s a testament of how strong the writing in this show is. 

The Score

While watching this I remember a time of my live I really love, when western film making did not bore me when everything was predictable.. but in a bit of a different and more satisying way.  This episode has a level of campiness that makes this show so great to me. We aren’t the only ones having fun with this.. the maker is having fun with this.. the writer is telling a tale they really want to tell.. or at least that’s how I experience what is shown in this episode. It’s not made just for us.. it’s made  out of a love, a passion project. It’s just one of those episodes where goodness oozes from every pore!

I think it’s a great thing if all you have to nitpick about is thinking a certain spaceship is slightly garish! Oh! And I just thought up of a second one.. you for people who really want to burn this episode to the ground because they want to hate on it! When Ein Barks at Faye .. there is no Echo in a room that clearly should have an echo! You know that is a great reason to drop this show if you want. Oof I am really catching steam right now with finding the negatives so let me stop this review before I burn this episode to the ground… or think about Ein so much that I want a Corgi!