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Comics 101 for 01/16/2003
Anime Review - 'Cowboy Bebop: The Perfect Sessions' Limited Edition DVD Box Set
I've been watching Cowboy Bebop for over a year now on Cartoon Network and I LOVE THIS CARTOON!! Awhile back I bought all twenty six episodes on DVD in a limited edtion boxed set called 'The Perfect Sessions'. You can find it at Amazon or even brand new and sealed on eBay (where I got mine) for $38. For the super-afficionados of the show, there are few extras included on each disc of the set (brief interviews with the creators, original voice actors, music videos and short documentaries on the making of the show). The audio tracks for the discs are available in both the original Japanese or English language version. Though the actual digital transfer may not be of the upmost potential that DVD can be capable of, just having the entire series in one accessible set makes this one of *the best* purchases I've made.
I've seen every episode at least three times so far and I still watch the reruns every Saturday night on Cartoon Network. I catch more subtle details in the rich character personalities and fast-paced storytelling every time. Not only is the animation elegant and dazzling (a great mix of traditional and CG), the storytelling top notch (complete with it's own mythos full of clever twists, mystery, double crosses and exceptional character development) but this is the best action cartoon I've ever seen hands down. Cartoons, even movies, with such believable, three-dimensional characters don't deserve this much intensity, atmosphere and attitude. And most films wish they could be this good.
It's an episodic serial with an actual beginning, a breath-taking middle and a beautiful, bittersweet, *perfect* ending. Not to mention the original songs and show's soundtrack are to die for. I've got the complete soundtrack for the series and for the upcoming film (to be released by Miramax in April) on CD via Mp3s and these tracks are usually playing in my studio when I'm working on my art these days. Along with the outstanding musical score, the voice acting in this cartoon is completely genuine and heartfelt. You really feel like these characters are alive and kicking.
In the first episode, 'Asteroid Blues', pay attention here to not only the amazing artistry of the anime and brilliance of the musical cues but also to foreshadowing of the 'finale' episodes ('The Real Folk Blues Part One and Two' - which originally aired three years later after the series debuted). But that's why this show is a serial and it's so great. The creators knew since the very beginning when they plotted the story exactly where the characters were heading and how they definitely were going to wrap the series up. And if you make it through all the previous twenty five 1/2 hour episodes to the last, I'll warn you - the destination is a doozy... but it's so worth it.
Other highlights from the series include 'Ballad of Fallen Angels' featuring fabulous music, some of Spike's signature wry wit and one of the best action finales of the series (plus Faye in some nice eye-catching evening wear to boot).
Episodes like 'Toys in the Attic' and 'Pierrot La Fout', though not necessarily part of the ongoing 'mythos' storyline regarding Spike, Julia, Vicious and the Syndicate, seem to encapsulate what the series really is about and what it does best. Combining drama, humor and tragedy in a way that spins the Anime action genre on it's ear. It also seamlessly combines various genres each episode with a huge western cultural influence including space opera, cyberpunk, westerns, film noir and mystery to name just a few.
'Jupiter Jazz Part One and Part Two' are some of the best of the moodier episodes, typifying the second act of the serial and balancing the action with much character development and still keeping you on the edge of your seat with it's surprising plot twists. These episodes also serve as a reminder of the paths these characters follow and the choices they won't be able to escape.
There's not too many things I'm this passionate about but Star Wars, comic books, Farscape and Cowboy Bebop are definitely some of the few. I highly reccomend this cartoon to anyone who loves action, sci-fi or just great, beautiful storytelling with pure heart and dynamic punch.
Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, and cowgirl Ed - I love them all!
See you next week space cowboys...
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