Mark Watches ‘Cowboy Bebop’: Session 1 – Asteroid Blues

In the first session of Cowboy Bebop, we meet Jet and Spike, a down-on-their-luck set of bounty hunters, who get involved with a violent criminal smuggling a disturbing drug. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start Cowboy Bebop.

As is customary in the Mark Does Stuff world, I begin this new series with an admission of what I already know:

  • This show exists.

Sweet, GLAD TO GET THAT OUT OF THE WAY. I’ve had a few friends and acquaintances over the years swear that this show is a masterpiece, and that’s about the extent of my interaction with Cowboy Bebop. As I said when I started Puella Magi Madoka Magica in October, I have a very limited experience with anime. I just didn’t have access to it, and despite that I was online as a teenager, it was never a regular thing for me. I didn’t have cable, I had no disposable income to buy DVD or VHS sets, and… well, for the longest time, it didn’t interest me. “THEY ARE CARTOONS,” I thought. “HOW GOOD COULD THEY BE?” Yes, I’m a fool. I’m trying to rectify that.

So, before we begin, I must remind you!

Please read the Site Rules, the FAQ, and the Spoiler Policy before you post a comment if this will be your first time. This community has a very strict spoiler policy, and even things you might think are innocent statements are probably considered spoilers. Your comment may be edited or deleted because of them, and you may lose the privilege of commenting here if you do not follow the rules.

The gibberish you see in the comments is rot13. You may talk about spoilers only if they are in rot13. This is so that you can participate in conversations without spoiling myself or anyone else who is following along.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about “Asteroid Blues”!

1_JetCook

CAN I BE BEST FRIENDS WITH JET? I just want that hunk of a man to make me food, and you are not allowed to judge me. I figured that I might as well start things off this way. There’s nothing like finding cartoon characters attractive. (Hello, Trent. You were my childhood love affair.) But this wasn’t the only thing I enjoyed about the very first episode of Cowboy Bebop. The opening scene and credits unfolded like a noir thriller with a very ’70s flair to it. Even if I don’t understand everything that’s going on, I got a sense for what the show was going to be like. It’s a gritty, violent, and humorous look at a bounty hunter culture that takes place in space. I could tell that Jet and Spike weren’t exactly swimming in money, which is why they decided to pursue the bounty placed on Asimov. (Though it seems like Spike does most of the work. Jet cooks and flies the ship, yes? What else?)

That means that just to make money to support themselves, Jet and Spike kind of have to set their standards low. So, a show about morally ambiguous characters trying to survive in a brutal world where the legally challenged are pursued by the police and other criminals? Sign me up for this journey. What I didn’t anticipate, though, was just how fucking weird and creepy this would be. I was excited that the team was headed to Tijuana because have you ever had carne asada? It is legit the only meat I miss since I went vegan. It’s perfect. PERFECT. So I’m thinking about carne asada and Jet’s biceps and then ASIMOV SPRAYS SOMETHING IN HIS EYE AND WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON??? There’s a gorgeous pregnant woman shooting a gun, Asimov appears to be able to MOVE FASTER THAN TIME, and who the hell are these gangsters who showed up out of nowhere?

The bewilderment works for the show, though. The chaos of this first fight sets the tone of the episode, establishes a detailed underworld, demonstrates how violent things are going to be, and gives me more context on exactly what it is that Spike and Jet do. In the process, little bits and pieces of this fictional world fall into place. This is a surprisingly diverse universe. We’ve got a Native American and a group of Mexican/Latino characters. Clearly, the population of Earth has colonized the rest of space. So what does that mean for Earth? Did this specific episode take place on Earth or some place else? Regardless, I also know that Mars is where the rich live, and it’s where Asimov and his girlfriend (who wasn’t named in the episode itself) are aiming. It’s not developed much, but I was intrigued by the idea that this couple got involved in the underground selling of bloody eye in order to make a better life for themselves. Who knows what Asimov was like before he started taking the drug he was selling? Jet and Spike clearly operate outside the law, so it’s not like the show is saying that the main characters are righteous, moral heroes, either.

But out of everyone here, it’s the unnamed girlfriend who is the most intriguing character. She fakes her pregnancy to hide bloody eye in her dress. Her interest in going to Mars is genuine. And in the end, she understands that her goal is futile because of what Asimov has done. So she SHOOTS ASIMOV IN THE HEAD. Holy shit, what? Did she do this out of mercy? Did she not want him to suffer? We’re left with a haunting and unsatisfying end, but it’s one that feels intentional. Hell, the very first episode of this show ends with Jet and Spike failing. They get no money. Spike does not get the girl away from Asimov. No one gets a happy ending. Instead, we’re brought right back to the beginning: Jet is making his “beef” and bell pepper dinner. They are no richer than when they began, and they are no closer to anything.

All right, I’m into it, y’all. Color me interested.

If you are unsure how to watch this show along with us, I am using AnimeFreak.tv to watch the show, so you are free to do the same! I’ll link to each episode at the end of the post, too!

Mark Links Stuff

– You can follow me on Twitter for any updates and live commentary on upcoming reviews I’m writing.
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– I’ve started reading The Shoebox Project for Mark Reads, the first fanfic “series” I’ve ever covered!
– Both Mark Reads Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince are now available in paperback form!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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