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  • Cowboy Bebop: Jazz Appreciation

     Yoko Kanno: The Jazz Genius

    Everyone knows, well almost everyone, that Yoko Kanno is the genius behind the musical score of Cowboy Bebop along with Macross Plus, Resonance no Terror, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and so much more. She is very unique her style of composing and chooses her musical styles well depending on the anime. She knows how to draw the attention of the audience further into the anime.

    Cowboy Bebop is probably her most successful to me. Her mixture of jazz and blues plays into the film noirish Cowboy Bebop style. The different types of genre varies wide from hard rock to country and from acoustic ballads to funk. It is a very experimental composition, but works well for the anime. The main genre, and reason for this blog, is the jazz though.

    In a recently new interview with Yoko Kanno, she goes into the details of how she created most Cowboy Bebops score. During her middle and high school years, Kanno spent time in the brass band. During her time, the ‘song kids’ were not the coolest kids around. These were kids who played other peoples songs. So instead she began to create her own songs and perform those instead. She could never understand why the other kids would play the ‘uncool’ music. Instead, Kanno wanted to shake the souls of those hearing her music. She wanted to make “you lose it.” This was the beginning of the yearning that would soon be Tank!. She wanted a fire to light up when it was played.

    In university, Kanno began to transcribe hip hop and rap. This was to help grasp the understanding on rhythm. This inspired her to take a trip to the US, New Orleans to be exact. There she studied the jazz and funk culture. She also visited LA where there was a variety of music being played on the streets. This is where she learned “that the beat is a form of language.”

    Who Are The Seatbelts?

    The Seatbelts are a group of people that Yoko Kanno has worked with separately on other anime OSTs. She gathered them together to create The Seatbelts. They mostly play jazz and blues but dive into other styles as well. For Cowboy Bebop, the band was given a background story. According to the Bebop lore, The Seatbelts got their name since they wore seatbelts while performing on stage. This was so they could play their hardcore sessions and be safe doing so. They began to get famous in 2048. Most of their personal lives and information are unknown due to the high security of Y.K., their producer. Tank! was ranked number one in 2056 on The Solar System Music Hit Chart. During this time, they also traveled from planet to planet performing concerts.

    Jazz/Blue Inspired Themes

    Tank! is the opening theme for Cowboy Bebop. It basically sums up the show in that little session. Jazz and blues are to be expected. Yoko Kanno wrote the song while her band, The Seatbelts, performed. She has Masato Honda as an alto saxophone solo player towards the end of the full song. With mostly just instruments (other than the count down to jam provided by Tim Jensen) and screams jazz the whole time. It is an iconic song and opening as well.

    The Real Folks Blues is the ending theme used in the majority of the episodes as some have special endings. Performed by The Seatbelts and vocals by Mai Yamane, this song is mostly an homage to the blue genre. The lyrics were written by Yuho Iwasato while Yoko Kanno composed and arranged the rest. This song is one of just a few in the series that is sung in Japanese. The last episode may have a different ending, but the song appears through an alternate version called See You Space Cowboy… sometime during that episode.

    Each of the OSTs released of Cowboy Bebop are unique in certain ways. The first one released, Cowboy Bebop, has many of the trademark songs from the series. The second album, No Disc, is unique due to the many genres present in the works (from heavy metal to blue grass banjo types). The third OST, Cowboy Bebop Blue, had many vocal tracks. The OST to the Cowboy Bebop movie, Future Blues, explores western and Arabic style music.

    Yoko Kanno used many different songs as inspiration for her own work on the OSTs. Here are a list of songs that are known to be her actual inspirations:

    Imperial Drag – Zodiac Sign inspired Want it all Back

    Robbie Robertson – Coyote Dance inspired Space Lion

    DJ Food – Let the Good Shine inspired Mushroom Hunting

    Harry Connick Jr. – Blue Light, Red Light inspired You Make Me Cool

    Skunk Anansie – Secretly inspired No Reply

    Jaco Pastorius – Liberty City inspired CAR24

    Steve Reich – The Desert Music inspired Powder

    Sugababes – Overload inspired Cosmic Dare

    Angelo Badalamenti – Dub Driving inspired Pot City

    Brigitte Fontaine – Comme à la Radio inspired Black Coffee

    Pink Floyd – On the Run inspired On the Run

    Tom Waits – Midtown inspired Bad Dog, No Biscuits

    Lunatic Calm – Leave You Far Behind inspired Pushing the Sky

    The Rolling Stones – 19th Nervous Breakdown inspired Diggin


  • Cowboy Bebop: War on Titan

    Cowboy Bebop: War on Titan

    The moon of Saturn is often known for the desert satellite look from Jupiter Jazz Part 2. A war occurred here not to long before the main story line. The War on Titan involved medical experimentation and most men involved are victims. Volaju and Gren both describe it as a corrupt military and government war.

    Other than the short scenes of men crossing deserts in the series and the Volaju’s testimony in the movie, not much is known. The reason the side story exists is to symbolize corruption. There is no reason given for the war.

    Characters Involved and Known Ranks:

    Vicious

    Gren

    Vincent Volaju: First Sergeant; declared dead in 2068; Mars Army, Special Forces

    Electra Ovirowa: Mars Army, Special Forces


  • Cowboy Bebop: Big Shot

    Big Shot: The Bounty Hunter’s Show

    Punch and Judy host a show called Big Shot. They cover the latest things that happen throughout the universe for bounty hunters. The Bebop crew are often shown watching the show and getting their bounties. Their slogan is to bring the news of the latest criminals to the 300,000 bounty hunters. It is an over the top cowboy themed, silly and even at times exaggerated show. It only airs for a few minutes at a time in the anime. Big Shot originally makes its debut in the episode Stray Dog Strut.

     

    Session 2 – Big Shot Sequences

     

    Punch and Judy

    Punch is one of the co-hosts of Big Shot. On the show he has an unrealistic accent and “shucks howdy!” is his crazy catch phrase. His real name is Alfredo. Faye sees him at the airport in episode 25, where his mother calls out his real name. He was laid off in episode 23.

    Judy is the other co-host of Big Shot. She is bubbly and wears a revealing cowboy outfit. She often acts silly to what Punch says and promotes things in very crazy ways. When Big Shot is cancelled, her true colors are shown. She becomes outraged and yells that they will hear from her manager. Alfredo later reveals to his mother that Judy was engaged to her manager.


  • Cowboy Bebop Blooper

    Breathing in Space

    Please be advised this article is not for the squeamish.

    Recently I was on Facebook and I happened upon an article (through the page I F****** Love Science):

    http://www.iflscience.com/space/what-would-happen-your-body-space-without-spacesuit

    It speaks of what happens when the human body is exposed to space without a spacesuit. Before I get to my point (which is anime related) let me explain the article in a few words:

    Basically if you are exposed to space, a number of these things would happen before you died. All of these things do occur though even after you die. You will swell up first, burn, your genes would mutate, you would then pass out (if you haven’t yet), and your lungs would explode if you held your breathe. If you want to know how and why these things would happen, I suggest you read the article. Of course when I read this article I immediately thought of Cowboy Bebop. To be more specific, episode Heavy Metal Queen.

     

    Why?

    Spike happens to jump into space to reach another ship for safety. Guess what? He was in space for roughly 30 seconds and holding his breathe. Of course he would have a few minutes before he died, but he would have passed out within 15 seconds. Since he was holding his breathe as well, his lungs would have exploded, killing him quicker. Since he was in an area that was somewhat protected from the sun, he probably would not have burned. Of course there are those other nasty rays and radiation in space that would have mutated his DNA, giving him cancer even if he did survive.

    Now Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime and I hate to find flaws in it, but they do occur. One such as this is not that bad. Maybe they had different genetics at this point since man would have evolved according to surroundings. Maybe the creators thought a few more seconds wouldn’t hurt or maybe they thought no one would notice? Perhaps it was because they were in the abandoned mine and the creators thought that would add more time to his survival rate? Whatever the case, Spike would probably still have bad health issues after that exposure.

  • Character of the Week: Edward

    Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV

    Edward
    Anime/manga: Cowboy Bebop

    Other names: Edward, Ed
    Age: 13
    Birthday: January 1 2058
    Height: 154cm
    Weapon: Hacking
    Edward
    Biography

    Edward is an eccentric teenager and she is a hacking prodigy. Despite her being only 13 she is extremely smart. However she can come across as being a very strange individual. Her character is actually based after the composer Yoko Kanno. Yoko Kanno happens to have composed the music for Cowboy Bebop. Edward is a very crazy member of the Bebop crew and is mostly seen with the intelligent dog Ein.

    Character Chosen by Milly


  • Behind the Scenes: In-Depth Look at Cowboy Bebop

    Cowboy Bebop カウボーイビバップ

     

    Cowboy Bebop
    Cowboy Bebop
    Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe
    Screenplay Written by Keiko Nobumoto
    Character Design by Toshihiro Kawamoto
    Mechanics Design by Kimitishi Yamane
    Music Composed by Yoko Kanno

     

    Another anime exploring the loneliness route, Cowboy Bebop explores the philosophy behind existentialism, past influences, and existential ennui. Developed by Sunrise in 1998, Cowboy Bebop became a huge hit. In 2001 it was the first anime on Adult Swim and has ran almost consecutively throughout the years.

    History of the Making

    Kadokawa Shoten Asuka Fantasy DX
    Kadokawa Shoten Asuka Fantasy DX

     

    TV Tokyo ran the series from April 3 to June 26 of 1998. At that time they only plate twelve episodes and one special. This was due to the fact that Cowboy Bebop had many controversial adult themes. WOWOW was TV station brave enough to air every episode from October 24 1998 to April 23 1999. Later two separate manga adaptions were released in the magazine Kadokawa Shoten Asuka Fantasy DX. A film was also released worldwide not to long after.

    Cowboy Bebop became a success (critically and commercially) in Japan. More so in the USA. Throughout the years, it has received several major sci-fi and anime awards. It is considered a Masterpiece due to the plot, characters, and music by many critics when it was brought over to the USA. It is considered a ‘gateway’ anime. It is easy to connect with due to all the modern elements.

    Unlike most sci-fi/space genres, Cowboy Bebop has no aliens, robots, or space guns. Instead it has a more realistic and possible future. Due to it being in the future most references and signs are in English. A heavy influence of Kung Fu is within the anime, mainly due to Bruce Lee. There are also several posters of him within certain episodes.

    Yoko Kanno: Behind the Music

    Cowboy Bebop
    Yoko Kanno

     

    A really notable elemental of Cowboy Bebop is the music. Yoko Kanno really knows how to draw the watcher in and capture the moment. The music is also heavily influenced by American music. From Mushroom Samba to Real Folks Blues to Heavy Metal Queen, no genre is left out, much like the anime. Consisting if mostly jazz and blues, Yoko Kanno composed the music and even assembled a band, The Seatbelts. In 2006, the Music of Cowboy Bebop was voted as the best anime OSTs by IGN.

  • Cowboy Bebop Review (Anime) Review

    Cowboy Bebop Review

    Cowboy Bebop
    Cowboy Bebop Set

    Doing an unbiased review on Cowboy Bebop would be difficult to me. Cowboy Bebop is everything an anime should be; after all it is my favorite anime. Along with Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Rurouni Kenshin, and some others, Cowboy Bebop is a very iconic anime name. Not only was it the first anime to run on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim back in 2001, but it ran for four years straight continuously. Cowboy Bebop took a break from Adult Swim for a while and reran in 2007-2012. Needless to say, this is an amazing anime!

     

    The Plot of Cowboy Bebop

    cbplot

    Cowboy Bebop is definitely a Sci-fi-Western anime. The story follows Spike Spiegel and his crew Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein. Every episode has a sort of stand-alone story. Some of the main plot will come out in certain episodes, but may not show up in others. The Bebop crew hunts down bounties for a living. Each member has his or her own special “ability” when it comes to catching them. The main story arc though is really based around Spike and why he joined Jet to hunt bounties. Being a former member of the Red Dragon Syndicate, he basically uses the cowboy routine to stay in hiding. The main arc is about Spike’s past life catching up with him and him having to finally face the outcome.

     

    The Characters of Cowboy Bebop

    cbcharacers

    Spike is the main character of Cowboy Bebop. He is a very calm and collective guy training in Jeet Kun Do. Jet owns the Bebop and was a former detective. He lost his arm in a shootout at one time, thus he has a fake arm. Spike and Jet eventually come across Faye, another bounty hunter and bounty herself. Faye seems to bring them a lot of trouble as well as some good money at times. Ed is the genius of the crew. She helps by hacking and using her computer abilities to catch bounties. Ein is a very intelligent dog and really stays around Ed a lot and helps her with computer things.

    The Bebop crew was put together so well and really makes the show. Each character that you come across in Cowboy Bebop has a lingering affect no longer how short their role was in the series. For instance the episode “Waltz for Venus” the character Rocco becomes a very interesting character to get to know and really lingers on even though he dies at the end of the episode.

     

    The Setting of Cowboy Bebop

    cbset

    Cowboy Bebop is based in the year 2071. By this time the Solar System has been open up to the public for living. Most of the series takes place in the Bebop ship but occasionally they visit planets (or moons). Even though it is the year 2071 and humankind has embarked into space, there is still some very ‘old’ technology still around and in use. Ground vehicles from the 1990s are still being used in the anime. The space technology has come a long way but it left the ground technology behind.

     

    Grade 10/10

    Watch an Anime Music Video of Cowboy Bebop: