Anime Meta-Review


Cowboy Be-Bop


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-26 of 26
  • type: TV
  • grade: exemplary
  • people: Hayashibara Kanno
  • made: 1998
  • Review created: Original date unknown.
  • mod: Tue Dec 26 15:00:05 EST 2000

Hm, if this is the future of anime then i'm very happy to be along for the ride. The setting is a version of the future where technology has advanced but people haven't. Human civilisation continues to expand, but the shadowy gaps, hidden secrets and variety of human desires has grown in tandem. This has led to a flourishing industry in bounty hunters, those who hunt down criminals both on the many worlds, and the expanses of space in between. In particular we follow the rust-bucket ship be-bop as it accumulates a crew of talented, but unusual, misfits. This includes Jet, the most stable member, the way too cool for his own good spike, the almost as cool faye, one of the most unusual hackers in anime and a dog. And they all have secrets and interesting pasts which continue to complicate their present (even the dog). Why not take a guided tour of a possible future with this most interesting of crews?

This might not sound like much until you realize that this show simply drips with style, character and skillfully constructed stories. Mind you it doesn't take long to work it out. From the opening montage with cool voice and wailing jazz introduction to the first moment of dialog is all it takes to know that you are in the presence of something good. This is advanced stuff and you can tell that the creators really believe in what they are doing. The world, the characters, the events and the ambiance all make perfect sense to a strong central vision of what this show is going to be. Mind you it could be said that the focus on cool and style does mean that some of the stories are not completely successful, and it is a shame that they are so episodic, but when it works it is very good indeed. Well paced, well directed it is both artistic and entertaining, a rare feat. If you haven't seen this anime, and like your material to have a bit of depth, then I recommend you go out of your way to get a taste of this. If nothing else you get to watch Faye who sets a great model for competent and cool anime females, while giving Hayashibara Megumi a wonderful chance to demonstrate her ability at mature (mostly) characters.

As mentioned the stories are largely episodic. albeit unified by the strong sense of world design that pervades the series. It's also worth mentioning that the individual stories can be quite different, with some humor pieces, action pieces and mood or character stuff to give a wide vaeriety to the stories attempted. Additionally there are some characters and elements that crop up in multiple episodes (largely figures from spikes background). These elements, along with various other facets of the individual characters, are neatly wrapped up to give a fitting conclusion for the end of the show. It is also, sadly, discouraging for the prospect of sequels.

But there's so much character along the way. And even for the villains the voice, appearance, atmosphere and the way in which they act is simply masterful. Top notch production and direction match with style and a reasonable budget. The design work, perhaps suprisingly for such an arty anime, is astoundingly good. The different environments, the many artifacts the crew use and the suggestion of a wider world all meld perfectly. You can easily believe that such a place exists. And this sense of design makes the craft sequences and computer usage seem very believable. And this design provides a strong foundation for the action, whether in starships, in spacesuits, spike mixing it up on the streets or Faye laying down some fire it is simply lovely to watch. The design even extends to the `way' in which spike fights being visually different from jet or faye, and the staging and working with the environment moves it up several notches of class. There are occasional moments where you wish they had even more money to play with, but for a TV series this is very nice animation and skillful enough to look real rather than too flashy. There is computer animation in there, but it is cleverly restricted to the things it does well. Large mechanical objects, `energy' special effects and computer interfaces being the obvious (and logical) recipients of computer assistance. As you can guess music plays an immense part and is simply excellent. I have no doubt that a soundtrack album to this is a good investment.

The currently quiescient THEM get almost as breathless as I do in this long and perceptive review. They also mention that discovering spikes past is perhaps the dominant story backbone. The length and depth of the review from Akemi's AnimeWorld makes it clear that it's worth seeing, but it is not going to escape without the style over substance potential being mentioned, along with the episodic stories. The review also mentions that there are humorous and serious stories, but the two types are kept seperate which is a really good point. The Anime Review calls it too good a show to miss in this positive review. Meanwhile Lord Carnage only needed 3/4 of an episode to be able to pen a review and summarise with, "To be missed only if you are a complete fool". With this many positive reviews the message is clear, hunt out Cowboy Be-bop and try it for yourself.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:16 WST 2009