Cowboy Bebop Newbie Recap: “Heavy Metal Queen”
At least the opening credits are interesting?
Cowboy Bebop is undoubtedly an effortlessly cool show. High on style and animated with energy, it’s a show that I could likely marathon in a day and only feel slightly guilty about. Pacing myself by watching one per week (or two, which will likely be the case next week) and refusing to binge watch is only hurtful on episodes such as “Heavy Metal Queen,” which works as a pit stop on the way to something more exciting.
So yeah, not my favorite episode so far. Luckily, I’m still so hyped on the last two that it doesn’t matter that much, but I definitely wish I had gone ahead and watched two this week so that I wasn’t stuck with such a dud.
- Did anything happen? This felt like a short episode and not in the manner where it was just so good that it was over too soon. The opening credits (which are insanely re-watchable) seemed to last longer than the actual storyline, which was admittedly thin. I kept waiting for something BIG to happen or for a new face to show up, but instead, we’re back to the anonymous bounty, the big chase (this time with bigger space crafts), and inner team shenanigans.
- I did genuinely enjoy the V.T. character, who is unlike many of the female characters I’ve ever seen in an anime. A soft-spoken character who people respect and are intimidated by with her trusty cat for company, she’s a fun foil for both Spike and Faye, who she spends most of her time with in the episode. She’s so good that I hope she isn’t yet another one-off character for the series. Aside from the main three (for now), I have to wonder how many recurring characters there will be. Characters such as V.T. and Vicious provided some extra elements to the episodes so far that it would be a shame if we only got the half hour to spend with them.
- V.T. also works enormously well in this episode as the comedic element is also raised with more slapstick than usual being put to use. For an episode that landed pretty squarely on the filler side of things, at least it drew out some laughs. Spike’s debilitating hangover at the start was a great way to segue to the sight gag of him talking with Jet in the restroom of a dive bar. This is also carried over to one of my favorite moments as Spike sits dejected at the bar trying to work up his hangover concoction when a fight breaks out and knocks into him, forcing his hand into getting involved. Spike, as a super suave space cowboy, is cool and fun to watch and all, but Spike put into irksome situations where he’s thrown off his game is even better.
- Both Spike and Faye work as a comedy duo in the episode, as Faye is finally given more to do than she has in the past few. I’ll admit that I’ve grown a little agitated over how frequently the Faye character is sexualized, and her flirtation of the wrong target at the start seems to lean into almost cartoonish territory. I’d rather see more of the headstrong, reckless character we met in her introductory episode, which is why it was so nice to see her getting to play the hero at the end of this one as she helped clear the way for their (she, Spike, and V.T.) escape route.
- The heavy metal music utilized in the episode was a cool contrast to the typical jazz that creates Cowboy Bebop’s mood. Both genres add a roguish charm to the series, and beginning the episode with an Iron Maiden song quickly introduced the tone of the following events. I’m a sucker for any show or film that wears its love for music on its sleeve, and Cowboy Bebop does just that. Even in its lesser episodes (which, if you haven’t noticed, I found this one to be), its music manages to make it something special.
- My biggest gripe with the episode is that it all felt woefully inconsequential. Nothing that happens here is going to stick; V.T. doesn’t seem to be sticking around, and I don’t believe the baddie of the week even got to speak a line of dialogue. It’s essentially a nameless, plotless villain, used more as a narrative hurdle to get our characters into a big, drawn-out chase scene. Any sort of stakes would have helped the episode immensely. Instead, we’re given the same structure we were given in the first few episodes, and despite some interesting dynamics, it feels a bit redundant.
Clearly, we needed more of Jet and V.T’s cat. That would have solved all the problems. Pacing issues, plot issues and any other miscellaneous issues aside, I enjoyed watching it, but I’m ready for “Waltz with Venus.”
At least I know what I’m watching tonight.
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