I don’t know where to begin.
Ever since I was young (all relative!), I have been obsessed with Cowboy Bebop. The obsession comes and goes, as with all things (I live my life in a series of obsessions and it’s exhausting but it’s the only way I know how to be), but it’s remained a constant in my life. I really, really, really like this show.
It’s often heralded as the pinnacle of Japanese animation; the perfect crossover anime series, fusing the best of the east and the west in this eclectic jazz, western, space odyssey mashup. It is all those things, but I’m not sure if that’s why I like it. I can’t really say why.
I’m an astrology nerd, so I always figured maybe it had something to do with my very unfortunate Aquarius placement. It makes me not care about things that I want to care about; it (and my personality) makes me distance myself from things that I really want to enjoy. And then when I end up by myself, I really have no one else to blame. It’s my own doing. It’s not as infuriating as it is frustrating. I really, really just want to relate to things and people in a healthy manner, but I don’t know how. I either love you, or I don’t. I either really, really like something, or I don’t. I guess it’s good for some things. Definitely not so good for many, many things, though.
All this to say–!
that one of the themes of the show is arguably existentialism and what it really means to be alone. Why aloneness and loneliness plague us and how we deal with it. Throughout the show, the protagonists form some kind of weird family unit, or at least are all seen to be comrades of some sort. But as the series progresses and the character arcs continue, you really see that there is no bond; that everyone truly is on their own. There’s something so sad about being — about feeling — alone in a group, in a family. It’s ugly. It’s like you’re in a cozy space but you can’t touch anything. It’s the worst feeling, worse than nostalgia (and I dislike nostalgia a whole lot).
I don’t want to say I connect with this show because of this reason. I’m afraid to say that’s why. I don’t want it to be why. Although when people talk about what they like the most about Bebop — the music, the animation, the story, the styling — I can always agree that, yeah, those are all cool. But they’re not the only reason I like it. So then what is it? Maybe it’s because they did such a good job of illustrating what that level of aloneness feels like. Maybe it’s because, even as a kid, I recognized the dangers of feeling this alone in such a big world. Maybe it’s because in the Bebop universe, the Solar System is inhabited and still there’s this feeling of dread that the protagonists can’t escape. The world isn’t big enough; the universe isn’t big enough to contain this feeling.
It’s so ugly.
I really don’t want that to be the reason I love the show. If someone asks me, I just want to say, “it fell into my lap at the right time,” and leave it at that.
I want to tell them “THE REAL FOLK BLUES” is the best song I’ve ever heard and I love it to death; the raspy, smoky and rich quality of Yamane Mai’s voice in contrast with the heavy guitar and tinkering piano. And then when I sing, “a life in the muddy river isn’t too bad/if it’s over after one go-around,” I don’t want them to think anything of it.
Anyway, watch the show. 🙂