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Cowboy Bebop

Episode 1: Asteroid Blues

Copyright: © 1998 Sunrise Inc., Bandai Visual; © 1999
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR, Recommended for Mature Audiences
Format: Original Japanese Dialogue, English Subtitled, English Dub (VHS, DVD)


vhs jacket

When the daily menu of stir-fry beef with green peppers suddenly has no more beef, it's time to start looking for the next bounty to bring in. Their target, Asimov Solenson, is a dealer of a highly addictive and very dangerous drug known as "Red Eye" or more colloquially as "Bloody Eye". The drug induces a berserker rage in the user giving them ultra fast reflexes and extreme strength making the user exceedingly dangerous to catch. It seems that Asimov had a run-in with an enemy group and not only killed off his enemies, also did away with his own people. All subsequent groups sent after him have simply resulted in more and more bodies. Seeking clues on the whereabouts of their target, Spike speaks to a Bull, a clairvoyant in Tijuana and learns that he will meet the red-eyed coyote on the North side of town. However, he is also to meet a woman on his hunt; a woman who is to kill him. Not exactly the best news to have when starting the hunt...

capsule review:

I have to admit, there have been a number of requests for this series to be reviewed, but I wasn't entirely keen on doing so. The first time I'd watched this episode, I was decidedly not in the mood for anything more than cute, mindless fluff, and this doesn't quite satisfy that requirement. Not to say that this is an overly deep series, rather, it's one where you'll either enjoy it or you won't depending on personal taste and the mood you're in.

As the series begins, the music is reminiscent of Sam Spade and old style PI shows, or if you watch alot of anime, the opening music to Lupin III TV series. Bluesy and brassy, if you don't enjoy that style of music, it could end up being most annoying. However, for those who do enjoy blues, the rhythm is highly prevalent throughout the show. While many people will undoubtedly be expecting some beautiful music because of it being composed by Yoko Kanno, the music while good and strong in setting the feel for certain scenes, is not particularly outstanding in this first episode. Rather, we have one primary theme being used for much of the first half of the episode. However, the different renditions, are effectively done.

The characters themselves while not particularly deep at this stage are effectively portrayed and outlined. Spike's character has a bit of a "been there; done that" feel. While an interesting character concept, there's nothing that particularly stands out as exceptional. A hint of the bored but capable and also decidedly tired of being broke, beyond that, his character isn't particularly deep nor intriguing beyond the hints of an action filled past.

Jet his sidekick also has a weatherworn feel to him and his partnership with Spike. While decidedly less key to the plot than Spike, we do get the feeling that their relationship has been a long one and that they've been through many things together. Time will tell whether any of that will actually get filled in. More than anything however, is the feeling of similarity in character between Spike and Lupin, as well as Jet and the sharp shooting Jigen. Perhaps it's just the similarities in personality since Lupin, while capable in a fight isn't exactly what you'd call a martial arts specialist. Whether this will be the extent of the similarities between the two series remains to be seen, although Spike is adept at pickpocketing...

What's decidedly striking in this first episode however, is the mix of CGI and cel animation. The CGI graphics are well done and while noticeable for the increased detail, shading effects, smoother scrolling, as well as occassional overly regular irregular shape of asteroids, overall the two are well blended together. Definitely better than one would normally expect to encounter in a TV anime series.

The voice acting is also fairly strong in this episode with the voice actors all being well within character and having good intonation and timing of their lines. Overall, the feel that comes through from the voice acting, as well as the storyline itself, is one of ages past with lots of violence and gangsters. All in all, well portrayed with the actors coming across as being fairly detached and coolly efficient.

Overall, this episode doesn't exactly reach out and grab me around the throat but in certain moods is an okay watch. I'll have to reserve judgement to see if I continue with the series after the second episode on this tape....
- JN, 2000.09.18

café rating (english subtitled):


3 star

[3 / 5] - Good introduction episode for the two main characters and we get a good feel for the twosome. The story itself, while not particularly detailed nor in depth does raise a couple of questions which will serve well to keep viewers watching.


3 stars
[3 / 5] - Overall well done; smoothly executed with good pacing; slow in sleepy scenes, but fast paced when things get going.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Typical acting efforts for a Japanese production. A touch of a detached performance overall, but given the story concept, it's very well suited to the production.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Fairly heavy use of CGI which can occasionally be noticeable due to colour, detail or effect. Fairly nice detail overall and smoothly executed. There are a couple of instances where you feel like you stepped into a video game however.


3 stars
[3 / 5] - Effective for building tension in action scenes but a touch lacking overall in the earlier part of this episode. Not overly inspiring.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Overall quite accurate although a couple of instance of translation with profanity when not used in the original.

Overall Rating:

3 star
[3 / 5] - Depending on the mood you're in, this could be an interesting series to get into. A bit more serious than Lupin III, Cowboy Bebop has the same feel of playing on the edge of legality. For those who like old style gumshoe flicks or more rough and tumble action shows this would be for you.

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Page last modified 2000.09.18