Yeah, so I took another one of my month-long breaks from writing. In this case, I hope I can excuse myself by saying that I started a new job and the pace of it has been nearly killing me. When I get home the last thing I feel like doing is writing. Still, I felt like writing something at least, if only to assure my millions of readers that I’m not quite dead yet. As a way to relax after an especially stressful day at work last week, I started rewatching the amazing Cowboy Bebop, the second anime series I watched in my life after Neon Genesis Evangelion. While Eva doesn’t quite hold up over time (it’s still good, but way more impressive when you’re an edgy 12 year-old boy like I was when I watched it) Cowboy Bebop totally does hold up, every bit as well as it did when I first saw it on Adult Swim ages ago.
So I thought about writing about Cowboy Bebop as a part of my long-dead “Anime for people who hate anime” series. I gave up on that idea, though, because there’s no point. Everyone already knows Bebop as that one anime that you can recommend to your normie friends without them thinking you’re a big nerd or a pervert. I can’t say anything about the series that hasn’t already been said.
I can write about the music, though. I’ve listened to my entire four-album Cowboy Bebop soundtrack playlist on my commutes about seven times over now, and it isn’t even getting old. Out of all four albums, almost all the tracks are great. As the show’s name implies, Cowboy Bebop features both a lot of American country-western-sounding music (Spokey Dokey, Don’t Bother None, Forever Broke) and a lot of jazz (OP theme Tank!, Rush, Odd Ones.) But there’s a lot more that composer Yoko Kanno and her band The Seatbelts have to offer – straight up rock (Want It All Back), Queen-style operatics (Rain), weirdness (Cats on Mars), and a crooner ballad (Words That We Couldn’t Say) that I don’t like very much but that at least has enough care put into the music and lyrics that they’re not brimming with cheese. And a god damn great recording of Ave Maria performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic just for the show. If I have any favorites among the four albums I’ve got, though, they’re probably Piano Black and See You Space Cowboy. And Wo Qui Non Coin, which might make you cry if you know the whole context of the song with regard to the show. Not that I’ve ever cried while listening to music or watching a show. No. Not me. I’m a tough guy, got it?
The soundtrack to this show is so damn good that it is absolutely worth buying all four albums, even if you have to import them.* As far as I can tell, none of the albums are any better than the others; they each have a lot of great tracks from the series that are essential to have. Though I guess I should mention that Vitaminless is about half the length of the others, but if you skip it you’re missing out on the ED theme The Real Folk Blues and the weirdly hilarious Black Coffee, featuring dialogue between a guy continuously asking a girl out for coffee (“aw, come on, just this time”) and the girl continuously refusing (“nnnno!”) over a jazz accompaniment. I know how that feels, guy. I’m sorry.
I’m lazy, so that’s all I’m going to write. Just listen to the music. Or better yet, hear the music when you watch the show. The music on its own is great, but it’s a lot better if you’ve seen Cowboy Bebop. The series uses music in a way that few other series do, anime or not.
*Of course there’s an alternative to buying these soundtracks, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.