July Anime Challenge: Cowboy Bebop

A definite anime classic, Cowboy Bebop is a space western that follows the adventures of a group of bounty hunters trying their best to survive day-to-day on their spaceship called the Bebop. The crew consists of five very different people: Spike Siegel, a retired and exiled hitman; Jet Black, an ex-officer of the Inter Solar System Police, retired thanks to the loss of his arm; Faye Valentine, a con artist suffering from amnesia due to the fact that she was in cryogenic hibernation for a long time; Edward, a preteen genius hacker girl; and Ein, a hyper-intelligent, genetically-engineered dog.

The soundtrack is one of the best anime OST ever heard, with talents such as Yoko Kanno, (who also sang in Ghost in the Shell- Stand Alone Complex and Wolf’s Rain), The Seatbelts and Mai Yamane contributing to the soundtrack. Cowboy Bebop considered one of the best anime series of all time, consisted of 26 episodes and aired in Japan from 1998-99. The anime was created by a production team (billed as Hajime Yatate) led by director Shinichiro Watanabe, screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, mechanical designer Kimitoshi Yamane, and composer Yoko Kanno.

Week 1 July 05 – 11, 2021

Episode 1 – 3

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week one of the Cowboy Bebop anime challenge and as we are doing a seinen anime theme this month we have a great seinen anime recommendation for you!

Tokyo Ghoul

Kaneki Ken, a book lover/geek takes his crush, the beautiful Rize on a date. They seemingly hit it off right away and Kaneki is excited that she shares his taste in books and authors. After a great date, she hints that she is afraid to walk home since a lot of murders happened in her area, and Kaneki, being a perfect gentleman offers to walk her home…

She lures him into a dark alley and it seems as if there is going to be an intimate moment when, suddenly, she bites him! She then tortures him psychologically, even asks his permission to ‘scramble his insides up’ and makes it very clear that she intends to devour him.

A struggle ensues and scaffolding accidentally falls on them killing her and injuring Kaneki heavily. He is rushed to the hospital and the doctors decide to use the dead Rize’s organs and transplant it into Kaneki to save his life…. instead damning him because she was a flesh-eating monster, a ghoul.

Now Kaneki is a half-human/half-ghoul creature with an appetite for human flesh.

His humanity screams at him as he desperately tries not to consume what could ultimately turn him into a ghoul as well. He learns, first hand, what is means to be a ghoul; in his case the torment of not wanting to eat humans as opposed to his ‘natural ghoul instinct’ that sees humans as its only option for substance. This anime is about his journey, how he juggles his humanity, his new ghoulish life, and his struggles with mundane things like fitting in society and looking normal.

If this anime recommendation ‘bites’ your interest, go for it! It is a great story that horror enthusiasts will enjoy. Enjoy this week’s challenge and have a super sugoi week.

Week 2 July 12 – 18, 2021

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week two of our Cowboy Bebop challenge and this week we bring you a seinen recommendation that is a dark fantasy.

Berserk

Back in 1997, an anime series aired that had the anime scene talking. It featured blood and gore, sword and mayhem set in a European-type Medieval setting. It was called Berserk, based on the Berserk manga of Kentarō Miura. The original anime series had a total run of 25 episodes. Only the first episode was derived from the Black Swordsman Arc of the manga while the other 24 episodes were from Golden Age Arc.

Then in 2012, they did a remake of the anime into three movies. The first two were a recap of the anime series and the third went beyond the original anime series.

The overall plot of Berserk is about Guts being recruited into a mercenary group called the Band of the Hawk whose purpose is to help its leader, Griffith, acquire his own county and noble title, even though he is not noble-born. It deals with their friendship and ‘hateship’ and is a powerful story worth watching.

In 2016 a new incarnation of the Berserk anime premiered. The new series followed Guts in his “Black Swordsman” persona, which was explored somewhat in the manga but only briefly touched upon by the original 1997 anime, especially in its first and last episode. In this series, new series played off after Griffin has sacrificed all his mercenaries to achieve his goal. Guts are set on a vengeful journey in the series to hunt down the God Hand’s Apostles and kill Griffith. Joined in this quest is the elf Puck.

The original 1997 anime, the movies, the 2016 series, and the manga are a must-see for all who loves dark fantasy. Enjoy this week’s challenge and have a super sugoi week.

Week 3 July 19 – 25, 2021

Episode 7 – 9

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week two of our Cowboy Bebop challenge and this week we bring you a seinen recommendation that is a suspenseful, grim, emotional and very psychological.

Noir

Noir was produced by the Bee Train anime studios in 2001. This action-packed gun-fest is the tale of two female assassins, Mireille Bouquet and Yuumura Kirika. Kirika starts off the series suffering from amnesia, with the only thing she can remember being the word ‘Noir’ which means ‘black’ in French. Mireille is from a powerful Corsican crime family, one of two survivors after a brutal attack on her family. These two ladies form a dark alliance, calling themselves ‘Noir’, both setting off on a personal journey to find answers to the mysteries of their past. At first, they seem only vaguely related to each other, but as the series progress, they are lured into traps set by a secret organisation named Les Soldats (‘The Soldiers’ in French) with which they share a mysterious past. Les Soldats is a strange, thousand-year-old organisation born from revenge and blood.

If you expect any comic relief as in the usual anime, there is none, Noir is a serious anime that deserves respect. If you prefer technicolour haired, cute and funny characters, skip it, but if you are looking for a serious, memorable anime, this one is for you. Enjoy this week’s Cowboy Bebop challenge and have a super sugoi week.

Week 4 July 26 – August 01, 2021

Episode 10 – 12

Konnichiwa Minna, it is week four of our Cowboy Bebop challenge and this week we bring you an epic seinen recommendation, a movie that has cult status in the world of anime.

Ninja Scroll

A fallen ninja, Jubei is a wandering noble/sword for hire, but when a chance meeting leads him to save a young ninja woman from rape, he makes enemies with a group of demonic humans. Jubei and the woman part ways, but later a government spy forces Jubei to join up with her again and investigate the mysterious death of an entire village. The investigation reveals a conspiracy involving the demons and an old nemesis, thought to be dead, hell-bent on overthrowing the feudal Japanese government. As they get closer to the truth the demons close in on them and pretty soon Jubei finds himself in a deadly fight with many super strong inhuman opponents.

It is written and directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri. The film is in homage to the Ninpocho series of ninja novels by Futaro Yamada and the main character, Kibagami Jubei, is a homage to the famed Japanese folk hero Yagyu Jubei Mitsuyoshi.

Ninja Scroll contains severe, extreme fantasy violence, with fighting, gushing and raining blood, slicing-and-dicing, pummelling, and death. As well as scenes of sexual and violent sexual nature certainly making it unsuitable to watch for the squeamish and young audiences. There is also a series named Ninja Scroll: The Series that ran 13 Episodes. The series is partly written by Yoshiaki Kawajiri, but remains only a spiritual sequel to the film because the story stands alone; however, many suggest that it is a continuation from the movie, it depends on the viewer to ultimately decide.

Enjoy the final part Cowboy Bebop challenge and have a super sugoi week.