I first saw Cowboy Bebop nearly 10 years ago. It was during Adult Swims second run of the show. I happened to catch it starting in December of 2001 and it quickly became my favorite anime out of the maybe 3 I had scene at that point. I didn’t even really know what anime was, but now almost 10 years later and countless viewings it is still my favorite anime. Even though I’ve watched it many, many times over I probably haven’t watched it in 3 or 4 years so it’s been 10 years since that first viewing and nearly 4 since my last. I’m going to go back and re-watch it in pairs like it use to show on Adult Swim and give my review of it, trying to break down and rank certain aspects as well as my, as well as give some general thoughts and opinions on each episode to see just how it has stood the test of time and if it’s still the undeniable #1 for me.
Session #1 Asteroid Blues (5 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Music episode and fight
Love the opening bar scene. What an amazing way to start a show. You get to see the reoccurring Antonio, Carlos and Jobim or just the 3 old guys for the first time, a good set up for the episode and have a really cool action scene. The slow-mo bullet dodge was a great way to close out that scene. The scene gives you a good taste of the animation quality and effects Bebop is capable of. Two moments really stand out for their music in this episode. Love ELM being used when Spike confronts Katrina for the first time, it just worked perfectly with the mood as the scene first starts, but even as the mood changes and Spike is getting chocked out it still fits perfectly. That's what I think is the brilliance of the music in Cowboy Bebop using songs that at first seem like odd choices for scenes or don't seem to fit, but actually work perfectly with the scene and make perfect sense. The other being Road to the West during the final chase. Just amazing how they use a slower more melancholy song for the final confrontation, but considering what it builds up to it was a perfect lead it and set up. Also Rush during Spike and Asimov's fight is great and that fight I'd call 3rd best in the series. The length of it, Spike's movements as he dances around and the visceral sense from the impacts you see Spike land are just great.
Overall simply love the episode. Having it start out with the grainy, black and white flashback of Spikes past leads the viewer to believe that this anime is more then just a simple action show and also helps to compel the viewer to stick around even more because what exactly was this event of the main character that apparently happened to him before. The concept of Red Eye I think is great. This super drug of the future I just find interesting. Has good action, dialog and some funny bits. Hits all 3 notes that make Bebop great. Also a surprise ending that's still shocking and great to see after repeat viewings. I like how the episode begins and ends exactly the same way. For the first episode I think that was a neat idea. Pretty much set up the way things are going to be.
Session #2 Stray Dog Strut (5 out of 5 stars)
Top 3: Villain
For most Mushroom Samba or maybe Cowboy Funk is the best comedy episode, but for me it's Stray Dog Strut all the way. From Spike's annoyance throughout despite doing it to himself most of the time to Ein having that super glue landing on Spikes plane at the end, this episode just had the most consistent and best laughs for me. A big reason would be the group of guys that made the data dog. Absolutely hilarious. I can't get over how I love the dead pan delivery they gave in the English dub and the one guy saying he can't hear the dog whistle, but then saying it was only a test. Those guys would of made this episode for me, if it wasn't for the second best villain the series sees in Abdul Hakim. Having a Karem Abdul Jabar reference is just incredible. I like his attitude throughout, he's imposing and the scene where he just shoves the two kids over was great. Along with the great comedy it keeps the pace up with two funny and very entertaining chase scenes and literally try and throw everything in them.
I love how Bebop started slowly rolling out it's cast. It was nice that Ein was the first addition to the group. I also liked how they chose to go for a lighter tone episode as the second one instead of maybe trying to pile on more action, fights and graphic moments. Good move. Personally this episodes jokes just hit all the right tones for me. It shows that Bebop is more then an action show and can also do comedy.
Well that's probably the best start to a show I've seen. It grabs your attention and holds it and leaves you wanting more.