Carrying The Weight

~ essay on the anime Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is a show from 1998, an anime directed by Shinichirō Watanabe. It’s great. The music, the animation, the sincerity, and the brevity. Only 26 episodes in the entire series. Space-opera-jazz-western. It’s one of my favorite anime, and considered one of the best, and here are some thoughts. 

Cowboy Bebop, existential play, character study, boundless with metaphors and commentary and truths about modern life, and the dreams of the future.

It asks questions, and doesn’t definitively answer them. What kinds of motives and meanings do we derive from our lives and our work and our relationships? Can we ever find real meaning? And does it matter?

Cowboy Bebop is a unique enterprise. It tracks a small crew of bounty hunters and their lurches through space. It conveys itself as much from mood and style as it does from any events or exposition. Not unlike a detective drama, each of its episodes is a relatively independent case, or in their case ‘a job.’ Except swap out the expected procedural elements and cat-and-mouse deductions within such detective cases for the the wacky and chaotic improvisation of bounty hunting. The music serves as thematic overarch; the pacing is as improvisational as the show’s namesake. More art than science, Spike, Jet and Faye are not beholden to their art as “cowboys” outside of where it can take them and how much cash it may promise them; they harbor no illusions about the righteousness of their hunts or any deeper meaning laying within the machinations of their chosen profession. They are not directly seeking out the truth, they are after a ‘fistful of woolongs.’ All of the turns of moral truth and character-illuminating moments of beauty, grace, poignancy that we end up seeing are brought forth out of unexpected intersections in the lives of their marks and their singular struggles overlapping.

It’s a short, concise anime. Bebop, both a serenely cool, noir-ish fiction with comedic twists and intensely dramatic passion play, waxing existential upon the conditions of Man and the meanings one can craft for themselves through work and companionship. Via its motley crew due their diverse misadventures upon the starship dubbed ‘Bebop,’ we witness its weird, wide future world borne of our current, familiar one. In this imagined 2071, we are introduced to the profession of bounty hunting through Spike and the gang’s actions, and we find it is not so exotic, nor profitable or fulfilling. In a time where Man has mapped and colonized the stars to his own industrial ends, neither is bounty hunting any longer a rare pursuit. Necessity begets its risk, and the complexity of intergalactic society places each of these characters into separately dire straits. Within that stress, storied motions of bounties and their hunts through space are borne for us to watch, and listen for. Music, in its varying styles and genres, is the essential lifeblood which charts its 26-session run of the Bebop. Each is so named and crafted. The crew’s work and their play is thought-provoking and purposeful; all of it absurd, in the Camusian sense. 

In the end, it’s all about the characters. The sessions are independent studies upon their struggles. And they aren’t serviced in the same way. Each person aboard the Bebop an independent vessel, charting their own path, with their own layered past peopled with demons awaiting confrontation. The development is certainly there, but it’s given to us differently. Their arcs are as individualized as their art designs and personalities. Every episode can be considered its separate cinema, each a vignette conveying its own dreamy intimations. Progressions are built up in each episode, even if they aren’t directly linked. By the end, despite its conciseness, the audience feels we know the Bebop’s personages; we are members of the crew, part of their struggle. 

Bebop tries to capture just a moment within the protagonist’s lives, these bounty hunters with a moral compass consistently missing their marks, getting sidetracked in time and place, wandering near and far from their makeshift familial locus in the Bebop and its well-stocked stores of bell-peppers & beef {sans the beef}. We come into the middle of a wider story. Each character has an embedded past they are secretly obsessed with. It is one we don’t see all too much of, with different circumstances and previous relationships which have shaped them into what we see now. What we see is just this transient slice of time; short, but sweet with taste and depth, effectively mixing sound, tempo and emotional qualia like a good jazz track will do, we are given an integral piece to each of these human puzzles to work with — and eventually, carry.

Then … in 2071 in the universe. The bounty hunters, who are gathering in spaceship “BEBOP”, will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… Cowboy Bebop. 

Character: Spike Spiegel / Jet Black / Faye Valentine /Edward Wang Hwe Pepel Cybulski 4th / Ein

Machinery: The Be-bop / Swordfish II / Hammerhead / Redtail

CHARACTERS

The characters in Cowboy Bebop are the core components of the story to be told, each richly realized and full of unique intrigue. Each of them resides at a different life moment, and it is our task, and pleasure, to uncover the truth of their paths up to now. Widely different folk, the crew of the Bebop come from understandably distinct walks of life and come together. Ex-cop and ex-criminal become wingmen, kindred spirits afforded a special subtext due to unseen shared experience, and a deep-seated friendship. A confident yet vulnerable, “honky tonk” woman, half femme fatale / half grifter, tries to find herself amidst a makeshift family, with no memory of her origins. An androgynous, mystic, wild-child genius and a precocious, cybernetic corgi join along spontaneously for the adventure. The crew of the Bebop is as diverse as the show’s stylings. In their collective adventure, full of wonder and woe, something brand new is created.  

Jet ~ a former cop, has become relatively cold and cynical about the state of the world and his life within it. He’s lost people, he’s lost his left arm, he doesn’t have much. But he hasn’t lost his sense of self, his code, or his search for meaning. His friendship and shared past with Spike keeps him grounded. His sense of honor gives him a semblance of purpose; his duty-bound loyalty to task and crew forges his tao. Now working askew of the law, Jet chooses bounty hunting perhaps for no other reason than he is good at it. Alternatively, it is the only thing left to him from the pieces of the life he has left behind. Jet is a good man that has been consistently dealt a subpar hand, and he plays it best he can. 

~ “Humans were made to work in sweet to earn a living. Those that try to get rich or live at the expense of others all get divine retribution somewhere along the line. That’s the lesson. unfortunately we forget the lessons quickly and then we have to learn them all over again.”

Faye ~ A woman with a compelling duality to her personas: that of the opportunistic, hustling thief and that of a girl with a whimsical beginning to her young life who doesn’t at all know who she is or who she wants to be. She hides the questions lurking within her — Who am I? What am I doing? Why am I doing it? — behind her audacious attitude and at times, reckless urge toward thrill-seeking. Economically speaking, she is in debt and is acting out in desperation, using her self-taught skills and abilities to scrum for what she can to keep on keeping on. Existentially speaking, she is scared. At the same time, she doesn’t take it from anyone; she has no time for trouble beyond that of her own making, or for anyone or anything that doesn’t catch her attention and keep it.

She desperately wishes to live independently, free from the burdens of others; she dreads the implications in attaching herself to people she has a hard time trusting, while at the same time longs for some purpose to her wayward journey. Eventually we come to find out she is a survivor of a very special kind of solitude, and is in fact a woman proverbially ‘out of time.’ Faye’s whole 20th century world abandoned her long ago, and so now, naturally she struggles mightily to maintain relationships with anyone, for fear of their inevitable leaving. Faye is still young though, and so grows much through her time on the Bebop {just like all the others of the crew}, and by the end, one can believe she discovers some semblance of her self. 

~ “They say humans are social animals that can’t live alone. But you can live pretty well by yourself … Instead of feeling alone in a group, it’s better to have real solitude all by yourself.”

Ed ~ is a genius hacker and practically unhinged. She is also a child {and gender-fluid}. One could believe she is either the daughter of a mystic, or was raised by wolves, or both. She provides the crew of the Bebop with a source of innocent shenanigans relative to the dangers of their missions and their respectively warped stages of adult life. Perhaps out of experiencing the quiet destitution of an extremely online life, and that of being seemingly an orphan, Ed practically hacks herself a family to go home to — the Bebop. Like a cat, she makes herself at home on the ship, wandering and laying about, always up to her own insular games.

The crew cares for her, but also gives her the necessary freedom to engage in her strange digital dealings. From time to time, she earns her keep on the ship and in their work with her impeccable computer skills. Her oddities and naivety helps her survive the harsh circumstances; she simply doesn’t know what she doesn’t know — about loss, regret, and your past catching up with you, all things the rest of the crew is dealing with. 

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Ein ~ the corgi, represents a separation from the natural order — a dog with an implanted computer chip making it irrationally smart. Known as a “data dog,” Ein was a successful experiment. But having escaped onto the Bebop, the implications of what this success means remain unknown. Outside of an above average intelligence often on display, Ein, the canny canine’s destiny is that of the Bebop’s pet. He tries to find his place in the world and like Ed, provides the crew (and audience) with a lovable animal companion and repeated source of comic relief. To many, Ein is the true star of the show {and likely an endless inspiration for real world corgi adopting and so naming!}. 

Spike ~ Finally, there is Spike. The leading man, but not by his own conscious choice or design. He is a man running from a past and emotions he cannot fully reconcile himself with, or has long ago embraced – it’s ambiguous. A former mobster working with the criminal element known ominously as ‘The Syndicate,’ his past is embroiled with blood and betrayal and close calls. And love. He’s both a living shadow who doesn’t necessarily want to die but wouldn’t mind it — and a fun-loving, care free goof ball — and a prideful and diligent man with a code and companions he’d willingly sacrifice himself for. In short, he is simply complex. Similar to Jet, Spike a walking, talking untold story. In a former life, he fell in love and his best friend became his greatest foe — but you would never know that about him from him. Impossibly cool and exceptionally competent, he has a good heart and you can’t help but root for him. He’s Han Solo dealing in an ever-present existential crisis. 

In one estimation, Spike, ‘a roaming beast who has bled all his violence away’ {in the words of Vicious}, is a man free. He isn’t happy, nor fulfilled fulfilled, and he is filled with a seemingly unreachable melancholy, an endurable restlessness. But he is certainly free. Stoic to the winds of fate, his catchphrase is the apt “whatever happens, happens.” 

This makes him fascinating. Why? The audience learns of his nature over time, from his own actions and from that of flashbacks into his past he spends so much of the airtime trying to run from, forget, or cherish. In my opinion, Spike Spiegel can only live a life this free-wheeling and stoic and unburdened from all mortal externalities because he’s already lived so passionately up to then. He’s experienced love. And loss. By his admission — he’s already died. All his adventuring as we see on the Bebop is simply borrowed time, a life in a dream, sometimes good, sometimes bad, that he feels lucky to lead for a spell. Spike doesn’t fear death because he’s already tasted it, he has already lost his love {although he will lose her again at the show’s sunset}. And because he is fearless, he is more effective and death does not approach him. It does so only at the time that he appoints. Unlike Vicious, Spike chooses his death. The ending is karmic in this way; the yin & yang duality of these two men, Spike and Vicious is finally tied off, as Spike keeps Vicious from his reign, just as Vicious kept Spike from his life with Julia. This, among many other things, makes the ending of Bebop and this character so perfect. 

~ “You are tense, I am calm. You apply excessive force. I control that force through fluid motion … Do you see now? It means becoming like clear water. Water can take any form. It drifts without effort one moment then pounds down in the torrent the very next.” 

Together, Jet and Spike make for a pair of mutually strong and habitually silent boys, smoothly operating their game out of the back of Bebop’s garage. Faye comes into play in disruptive fashion when she tries to hustle them on a job. She implants herself in and out of their crafts over time, continuously grifting them and leading them on as an ally, until eventually all parties warm and their alliances become real. Ein is adopted, the strange target of a strange job. Ed is first encountered in the digital spheres of the internet, where she interferes with a job and then helps the crew get to the bottom of it. When the crew of the Bebop is finally fully assembled, they become like a family, in companionship and dysfunction alike. Some of the best scenes are the ones with all of them casually sharing a meal, or details about the latest bounty, within the ship’s veritable living room space. 

Their time all together is brief, but there’s a depth to it, rhymes and reasons to the madness of it all. The audience searches for the truth of these characters right alongside Spike and crew searching for their next bounty. All the real developments of Bebop take place in the course of the work they are doing, the bounties and the wayfaring through space to bag them. But it is rarely about the job or its consummation — it always comes back to the characters. This is what makes the show great and what makes the characters authentic. Their struggles feel real and, without much exposition, we genuinely care about them, each in different ways. The run of events over the twenty-six sessions is nothing more than an earnest study into the action of their lives and their hearts. 

WORLD

Cowboy Bebop imagines a near future world where we’ve taken to space. We have brought everything with us: our ingenuity and our avarice, our ambitions and our fears, our dreams and our products, our brands and our endless hustle to earn more for ourselves. This embark unto space happened long ago though, and now the worlds and their structures we see look worn out, tired, depleted. So too do many of the people we encounter, not withstanding our starving protagonists, hunting crooks for scraps to fund their next meals. 

In the realm of the show’s world, nothing better represents the endless hustle of individualism and freelancing entrepreneurship so commonplace in our increasingly Westernized modern world, than that of the bounty hunter. As humanity spreads itself among the cosmos using cutting edge warp gate technology, growth slows and the hard work of colonizing new planets begins, a new industry emerges — the hunting of troublesome people via bounties. I speak of ‘crooks’ but in truth nothing prevents wealthy patrons from simply placing bounties upon parties they want retrieved or eliminated, their quarrel with the law untraversed, just like in the Wild West days of yore. The purveyors of the bounties make a game of it, complete with leaderboards and intricate parameters for the jobs and a funky, funny game show-esque program dedicated to informing hunters of the best game in town. 

The crew spends much of their time in the voids of space, usually watching ‘Big Shot’, sometimes doing personal questing. They explore cities on Mars, Venus, the moons of Jupiter and elsewhere, all in the name of the hunt. 

At one point, Jet speaks of recent repeated economic recessions causing strife amongst the intergalactic communities at large. At another, a bomber terrorist with a bounty on his head desperately tries to get his message across by destroying skyscrapers, the ultimate monuments to “capitalism without philosophy” and corporate machinations, income inequality, wanton wastefulness, etc. run amok. He is almost entirely ignored by Spike, Jet and Faye, who are caught up in their own mess. The Teddy Bomber ponders his failure while the audience is left to ponder the violent truth of his bemoaning {and its relation to our own times}. 

The truth seems to be that honest work is hard to come by in the future. Which is fine, given the advancements of the future afford everyone a good standing to live without constant labor. But they don’t. The worlds the Bebop visits are filled with more destitution than fortune. Thus, there are good reasons why one might turn to the perils of bounty hunting to survive. By our view of things, formerly ‘good’ jobs are automated or absent now, and the available jobs aren’t enough to get by on alone. Bounty hunting makes for an especially precarious self-employment; 2071-era ‘freelance’ work. Hunting humans is the endgame for Jet and Faye — not because they get off on the thrills of such work, nor because it is especially lucrative. No, the Bebop quests for bounty after bounty, usually failing, always getting into trouble — because they have to in order to simply survive.

For Jet, it’s how he makes his living.  For Faye, it is how she stays on the move, always one step ahead of her debtors. For Spike… it’s not entirely clear what the bounties might net him beyond money for smokes, and maybe paying back debts to himself of a more spiritual kind. For that matter, Spike is never that upset about the missed bounties; for him, it’s never about the money. It is about the thrills and the absurdly entertaining near death experiences contained within the act of going after them. 

Another truth of this world seems to be that it is rife with the spirit of anomie. That being a sense of senselessness to it all, concerning the individual and his place within an intergalactic society which doesn’t really give a damn about what one is doing, and offers practically nothing in the form of guidance about what one ought to be doing. There is, however, a familiar worldly incentive within Bebop. But its pointed presence in this fiction is perhaps a bit disappointing to us. As we move into the future, one might believe money to become less and less powerful, and less and less meaningful towards the ends of an individual’s mere survival. Is this too big an ask for a highly advanced, futuristic society? 

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Bebop charts a course {perhaps presciently} in which just the opposite happens. Money becomes everything. And it is running low {among other scarce resources, like beef to go with bell-peppers}, thus there is an emergence in organized crime and corruption and bounty hunting. And the inequality of it all becomes the structure of a game among the far-flung galactic elite. Where better to sink excess capital than into the elimination of the competition, legally and with minimal consequence? 

In the world of Bebop, we are shown no Star-Trekkian future, replete with gleaming, nigh utopian state full of a flourishing ethic of interstellar exploration, diplomacy, science. There is the scars of a ‘War on Titan’, its soldiers turning to life in the Syndicate (such as the big bad in Vicious). There are also rumbles of a previous “Gate accident,” in which the primary mode of intergalactic travel was disrupted and led to countless negative implications for the decades to come. In this alternate future history, these black marks, of disastrous and tragic circumstance, shape current events and demeanors more than anything else. There is no gleaming megacity upon a galactic hill that the Bebop comes upon in awe, offering a paragon vision to the civilizational experiments in space and stable careers to our journeymen. No, most of the cities look rundown and their institutions fallen or ineffective. Earth is a scrap heap with an orbit full of trash quickly becoming landscape-shaping meteors. Jet remarks that there is “nothing good made from Earth” any longer. Humanity has left its hearth behind, and has moved throughout the near locales of the cosmos, spreading our glorious plague of growth and waste to their far reaches. 

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In all these regards, Cowboy Bebop’s vision of the future isn’t optimistic. But there are reasons not to despair. Spaceships are as affordable as cars, access to gates is widespread, thus allowing one to affordably explore space. There are locales on Mars, Venus, and other planetoids within the solar system where one can carve out a comfortably quaint little life. The multicultural dream of a highly diverse society working together, relatively free of the rampant prejudice of the 20th century, seems to still be alive. There is progress here. Cowboy Bebop has long been a show touted for its representation of many different cultures within its characters. And yet, no matter to color or creed, everyone now seems united under the ruinous tenets of the freelancing, dog-eat-dog void of intergalactic market-making and mega-corps. 

The most well put together and effective organization that we see comes in the form the Red Dragon Syndicate. It holds its ever-present hands across the time and space of the show’s events, in control, apparently all-knowing, and on the move. They work their corruptions and crimes efficiently, hold influence over remaining institutions, and offer advancement to their constituents criminals. The industry of bounty hunting can be seen as a tool to use against the Syndicate, but it’s really part of the same machine — that of human v. human bouts of human costs, and operating outside the bounds of the law.

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From Spike and Vicious’ run of things, criminality is the better game in town, for all material purposes. For men of their skill, they could play either side to make their way. Spike has lived in both worlds and his temporary freedom from the clutches of the Syndicate is part of his core struggle. While he has been living on his own terms and hunting for scraps, Vicious has risen to leadership. Granted, their motivations are quite disparate. But nevertheless, each is risking their lives on a daily basis in their cutthroat trades, and one has significantly more stability, and more fruitful payoffs awaiting him {just as long as their conscience doesn’t get in the way}. 

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Regardless of the geopolitical implications of bounty hunting and the state of affairs, it being at the center of the show’s machinations undoubtedly makes for interesting stories. Bounty hunting involves searching for wily people that do not want to be found. In order to corner them, the hunter must know their target, their history, their known associates, and the reason for their past transgressions summoning the bounty. As they work, Spike, Jet and Faye can’t help but get caught up in the lives of those they hunt, and their friends, enemies, loved ones. As a result, each mission and each episode takes the crew to strange and wondrous places within the universe of this future. The hunt provides the best possible device to allow for these far reaching adventures.

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The show features all these bounties and marks and the money to be earned, but the essence of the events playing out ultimately has little to do with such things. The world and the complexities of the people and their interrelationships within it make up the meat on Bebop’s bones. Consistently, the Bebop crew faces a member of humanity lock and step with some complex element within the human condition, and the bounty fast fades into the background of matters. 

MEANING

The Bebop crew ultimately never gets their mark, and the prospective bounty they set out for in any particular episode. Instead, they are received something else. There is a deeply existential, deeply meaningful message within Cowboy Bebop, and this is where its legacy as a one series anime, and its ultimate weight, lies. This anime has a lot to say {even if it’s light on dialogue} about interdependence and what it means to forge the bonds of companionship with others in adulthood, deigning for a family in strangers when you have no one else left.

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Altogether, the Bebop’s misfit misadventures comprise the genres of noir, westerns, high sci-fi {star gates and A.I.}, low sci-fi {gritty streets and utilizable 20th century retro-tech}, even horror {the year-old lobster becoming sentient in the Bebop fridge!} Mysteries, comedy, starship dogfights, gambling, betrayal, misunderstandings, renewed tragedies, the concept of fate and relative meaningfulness are all on the menu for the viewer.

Through their collective adventure, the makeshift family aboard the Bebop — in their own personal ways — crafts their own meaningfulness.  

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Each of them are lone wolves, but for a time out of either necessity or want, each of them becomes the most important person in each other’s lives. Their disparate personalities and pasts creates complications, and none of them really like one another at the beginning. Emotionally speaking, none of them are available (even between Spike and Jet). Realistically, they are misfits and outsiders, small fries in a big universe that doesn’t give a damn about them. Consciously, they are trying to find their way to thriving. Unconsciously, we know they are searching for a way to survive. 

Everyone on the Bebop is restlessly questing for belongingness in their own way, seeking out ‘ties they can cherish.’  Jet lost his place and has reconciled himself to it. Faye is desperately searching for it, trying to remember her past. Ed wanders away from it, seeking transient warmth among surrogate guardians.  Spike had it and lost it and has never been the same for it. 

Over time, they open up. They come to trust one another, as co-workers and companions. In the time spent together as a crew, they share experiences and personal stories. The relationships and trust grows as the series draws to a conclusion. The character interactions draw new information from each other and bring about real bonding moments. As an audience, we like to see that; for the characters, they needed it. The shared vulnerabilities allow them to lighten each other’s personal burdens. They create their own, brand new space for their collective belonging. 

However, unlike most shows {and unfortunately common to reality}, we never get to see all of these characters fully understand one another, to unwind the darkness and restlessness within them, to find that peace, or that ‘fistful of woolongs,’ we think they deserve. They don’t get enough time. Not everything important to them, and the feelings they hold for one another, sees the light of day. Always busy with the next job, the Bebop never knows peace, beyond transient and beautiful glimpses of it. They never quite get there. They keep secrets, certain motivations are hidden or unknown even to the very end. Dealt an imperfect hand, these relatively aimless and sometimes broken people are left with unanswered questions. And so are we. And like us, they have to come to terms with that fact and continue living.

This is not to say that they don’t make their time together count. But there was significant ground to go, more paths to take that ultimately go untread. Some say that being loved means simply being understood. Can we say the Bebop crew ‘loved’? I am not sure. But all this opens up deeper lines of thought in the audience: Maybe some secrets are meant to remain so; some burdens too heavy to be shared, some journeys are meant to be taken alone. Every day people die with secrets lying within their hearts. Why should’s these characters?‬ Regardless of they / we wish things might go, we / they have to endure.

There is an important philosophical truth I think the show conveys well: Each person, each of these characters, has a path that they are on and a certain weight (the sum of their experiences, the good and the bad) they are carrying. And in the end, only one person can carry this burden. And even though they are working together and helping one another survive, subsisting on wacky-to-whimsical-to-perilous bounty hunting jobs they all find themselves coming short in — each person’s past and path is their own singular journey. We know Spike, Jet, and Faye are all fiercely independent. Each one of them could all probably survive and even make a solid living on their own. It begs the question: why are they even together to begin with?

This camaraderie and comfort they discover in each other lessens that weight. Despite never learning how to fully release themselves, they find a measure of solidarity on the Bebop, and catharsis from their respective demons. And it is only through one another that they come to see the truth of their weights, and how they may better carry them to their respective ends.

Faye has to endure Spike leaving, on a mission she sees as ’throwing his life away’; Spike sees it simply as destiny. Jet has to endure the loss of his friend, even if he understands that it must be so. An unspoken melancholy permeates the Bebop’s remaining crew when Ed and Ein say good-bye and stay on Earth in the penultimate episode. Over these 26 sessions, even as {almost} every episode wraps in prototypical procedural fashion, with everything returned to normal and the characters mostly unchanged and undamaged, and the bounty comically unearned – the audience witnesses the deeper and more complete arc of their coming together and going apart, changed

The Bebop’s journey runs counter to the harsh promises of the voids of space, and its stark promise of death, or worse – utter solitude. Life is hard, adulthood is harder. Even harder is making your way in a world severed from the hopes and ideals of youth and of one’s dreams therein. Hardest of all is doing all of it alone. Death is the approaching dread, the end of an individual’s run. There is no harsher reality to face, and we all must face it one day. In this void, one might find it difficult to avoid succumbing to the soul-sapping ennui so readily available — giving in to nihilism, as Vicious does — and instead live for something beyond the present, superseding the past, something greater than your sole self.  Finding sincere companionship seems to be the saving grace in this struggle. This is no less true even with this companionship and the presence of these companions being transient.

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The crew of the Bebop, unintentionally, perhaps still unknowingly even until the very end, does just this. They carve out something for themselves. A meaningful life. Risking their lives, sometimes starving their way through their lazy days upon a little starship weaving its way through foreign stars, they all come to carry their weight just a little more effectively.  

The ending of their time — and of the show’s run —  is bittersweet for them and for us. In the end, the just desserts of Faye, Jet and Spike — individuals with good hearts & worthy souls — was something more. Like the beginning of the story, we leave in the middle of the journey once again, at a crossroads. Each character heads into an uncertain future, carrying lives full of imagined endings, missed opportunities, each with their fair share of tragedies, heavy secrets and unresolved dreams. But they lived and experienced, and that is what matters. Circumstances are imperfectly, ambiguously beautiful. How often does fate leave us, and so many of the Bebop’s endeavors, with this familiar feeling of unfinished work? The ballad of Cowboy Bebop can be considered a particularly compelling existential reflection of any human story. 

They each do their best with their respective hands. 

As Spike poetically lays out from personal experience, one can make the art of their living as thus: reconciling your present with your past, turning to face it, even in the eleventh hour. There is art in making your life and your death about more than just your self. 

Whatever happens, happens.

After having borne witness to their experience, we now all have to carry that weight, the weight of their stories and of their dreams, taken or missed. 

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