59. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

CowboyBebop1Spike and Jet take control of the convenience store robbery in typical, smooth Cowboy Bebop fashion. They’ve secured three hostiles, but then a fourth comes stumbling out of the bathroom: he takes a hostage after zipping up. Instead of quickly reacting, Spike frowns and starts hackling Jet for the bad intel. Jet tells him that often in warfare, the unexpected — Spike doesn’t want to hear it. Guns are aimed, the tension is high, but these two are arguing because we all know how this is gonna end.

Which is true of this movie as well as the scene itself. But while this opener might vaguely reek of Tarantino, there’s some real content and character to back up the otherwise offbeat and quirky exchange. That’s because this is very much a continuation of the series, and the series remains one of the best, if not the best, anime series of all time.

It’s a perfect fit for the greater thematic framework of the show, but because this is certainly not a sequel, the more difficult job for the writers was making it a story-fit. The risk of retcons became real, although story and Cowboy Bebop is a deeper matter.

I’d once heard an interpretation that because dreams were such an important motif, the events of Cowboy Bebop, the fun and always emotionally engaging adventures on the high seas (of stars), are just a dream that Spike is wandering through because he died when Julia betrayed him, and soon he’ll have to face reality once more. What an interesting idea for a show, even if it only exists in retrospect.

Either way, the A and B story, however you want to attribute those, are only connected ephemerally — the fun adventures, and the tragedy of Spike. The Movie is about the fun adventures, but it still strikes that balance verbalized during Space Dandy’s promotion, the 20% comedy and 80% drama. The new characters are great, and the new adventure takes us on a groovy tour of the show’s stylized galaxy.

In the end, the goofiness of the opening scene, that 20% represented, exists in contrast to the solemn ending, but both parts, both moods, compose the whole that is this space-age rock and roll fable. (Or jazz fable).

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