Session #5 Ballad of Fallen Angels (5 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Music episode Honorable Mention: opening and art
Ahh what I would say is probably the quintessential Bebop episode. Starts of with a bang as we get probably the best introduction for Vicious they could come up with. Bebop as bluntly as possible says "hey, this is the main bad guy, he is evil, you should route against him, in case you couldn't tell". What a first moment for the character and start for this episode. Starting out with two syndicates making peace and ending with Vicious betraying them and bodies everywhere. For me what stands out the most though in this episode, and perhaps what it might be best known for, is the music. I'd be willing to say the best music episode in the entire series. From Waltz for Zizi (my favorite song) being used when Spike and Annie are talking, to Rain and Green Bird during the legendary church scene, just really good songs used really well throughout this episode. The music really helps to make Bebop and in this episode music is the episode. Lastly, as much be touched upon, the stellar church scene. Re-watching the show for the first time in a long, long time I'm trying to see what stands out more and to notice little things. This time it was just the pure detail in the art and how great the closing scene looked. Spike walking into the church and the purple hazed town behind him and the darkening sky above him is beautiful. Bebop is still a good looking show, but you can tell they stepped it up when it came to that scene.
For the first time during the moment when Spike was falling and the flashback was being shown I was wondering. Is that a flash back Spike is having, Vicious is having, they are both having or is it just for the viewers shake? This is a question I'd like to pose to everyone b/c honestly I can't tell. You get first person perspective, third person perspective, scenes were it's just Julia so it's hard to tell.
Overall I just like the way the episode is laded out. We get Vicious trying to lure Spike in, but instead he gets Faye however that still works out for him since Spike comes anyway. I know that a lot of voice acting is done with the actors during their lines alone in a room separate from the other cast and I don't know if Bebop or this episode was done that way, but for one of the few times I get that feeling when Spike and Annie are talking. The delivery just seems... off. I love the Bebop dub cast, but this is the one time where I think things could of been done better. It seems a bit over dramatic and clunky especially for an important scene. Still though one of the best episodes in the series. And so well done. I was surprised the first time I saw it just how many of my assumptions where correct about Spikes situation from the flashback we get which lead me to believe that wow they really did care about the details.
Session #6 Sympathy for the Devil (4 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Ending, villain, death Honorable Mention: art
An exciting episode that has a couple tense moments, makes you question what's really going on and is over lade with a dark, moody atmosphere and good use of music as harmonica sounds cover most of the episode. Always enjoyed Wen in this episode and it's obvious he's what makes it tick. He's the bad guy, that for a second you can almost feel bad for. The juxtaposition of the child appearance, but then he speaks in this cynical, mature, world weary way that I just think is great. It all culminates with a spectacular ending where we see Spike and Wen in their final confrontation. The African tribal drum beat music to go along with the scene is great. The look of the area I also love, it's a really beautiful view. The sun just setting, this out of the way gas station and the final shot. All just done so well and leads to a truly memorable death. And after that intense build up it's almost a moment of just... "oh well, lets move on". Spike risking his life against an opponent that supposedly can't die and for what? So when all is said and done him just casually picking up the harmonic and trying to play it then just tossing it in the sky speaks volumes of the casual nature of Spike. A fantastic ending for this episode.
I love seeing Spikes emotions throughout this episode. His subtle changes and things he does that lend little insights in him. The opening where we see him having a flash back and having to calm himself down, his typical cocky nature at the start, then a more subdued, serious Spike as he finds out about Wen and gets hurt and at the end knowing what he'll have to do even though it seems like he doesn't want to. The scene where he apologizes to Jet is great. A seemingly unimportant moment, but one that adds nuance to the characters. Also Spike is really, really good at catching things using his plane. Twice now we've seen him catch something on the nose of his plane and man that has to be really hard, haha. I almost feel a little bad for Sympathy for the Devil. Since Adult Swim has typically had it's two episode format it's always had to directly follow Ballad of Fallen Angels and I sometimes feel it doesn't get the credit it deserves. It's kinda like Micheal Jackson's "Bad". Still a great album and better then most other groups good stuff, but it came after "Thriller".