Thanks for saying it was OK to be gay when the US banned the LGBTQ community from being out in the military and the UK had a piece of legislation saying schools weren’t allowed to talk positively about homosexuality. Thanks for having handicapped characters who are fun, rather than tragic, figures. Thanks for making people laugh at both themselves and the terrorists after 9/11. Thanks for showing religious people aren’t all stereotypical bigots or terrorists, no matter what they believe, and that fearmongering leads to blind hatred. Thanks for showing that Scientology is a cult rather than a religion. Thanks for acknowledging the sheer political frustration of the wasted vote. Thanks for showing gay parents are just as capable as straight ones. Thanks for admitting white people can never understand the implications of the N word. Thanks for showing the brutality and evil of conversion camps. Thanks for portraying Tourettes’ syndrome sensitively. Thanks for reminding us how ugly the hounding nature of celebrity culture is. Thanks for showing us the bitter self-harm nationalism does. Thanks for telling cancer victims they should always keep up the fight. Thanks for showing the scapegoating power of austerity that makes the poor shoulder the problems of the rich. Thanks for mocking the crazy political conspiracists who ignore real problems in society in favour of ideological bullshit. Thanks for attacking the irresponsibility of corporations who don’t work hard enough to protect the environment. Thanks for showing how crushing and painful life with depression is. Thanks for calling out people who seem to be trying to make positive movements and end up doing more damage to their causes than good. Thanks for attacking the disgusting systemic prejudice that surrounded Trayvon Martin’s murder. Thanks for showing how harmful unrealistic body standards are. Thanks for mocking the transphobia of bathroom bills. Thanks for trying to warn us how much of a dangerous, shitty little demagogue Trump is.
But most of all, thanks for always showing us there isn’t just one way people think even if the issue should really be obvious. And thanks for always managing to make us laugh while you did. Thanks for 20 years of some of the best satire on television, and here’s to 20 more!
So for the last few months we’ve been putting together this 20 year, “best of” retrospective of what we’ve all been up to during that time. The paperback book itself is available on Amazon (244 pages, 513 illustrations for $29.99 (that’s 6¢ per illustration, 12¢ a page, not too bad). We printed it through Amazon’s on-demand system, and I have to say, the quality’s pretty good.
But, you can check it out for yourself here for free, to look at on your phone, tablet, or your laptop.
I know it might sound like some BS, but we couldn’t have done any of this stuff without you and your friends. Frederator’s fans watching what we do is what makes 20 years possible. Thanks so much.
Please, let me know what you think of our book. –Fred
The 20th Anniversary of Cowboy Bebop and Carrying that Weight
At the risk of being too cobbled together, I thought I’d take a moment to write this tribute to Cowboy Bebop for it’s 20th anniversary. This is my first attempt at anything like this on Tumblr, so thanks for reading if you take the time!
When I was first introduced to Bebop through it’s original run on Toonami, I hate to say, I wasn’t into it. I was an elementary school kid just coming off Outlaw Star, which was my first real introduction to anime and sparked my interest, love and imagination. My brother told me Bebop was better, so I went into it with a chip on my shoulder already, suffice it to say. It seemed this show I’d never heard of was taking over my most beloved series, even going so far as to occupy the same time slot.
It’s safe to say, I didn’t like Bebop when I tried it. It’s themes were a little more mature than I was ready to handle(my favorites at the time being the aforementioned Outlaw Star as well as Dragonball Z) and I couldn’t quite get a grip on why everyone loved it. I did watch several episodes when I was awake for them, but the same questions kept coming up. Why doesn’t the crew get along? The crew of the Outlaw Star actually enjoyed each other’s company and worked together(for the most part). These guys are always threatening to leave, or Faye’s always trying to take a bounty for herself! Why are they always broke? I don’t get what’s going on with this Vicious guy, why’s Spike such an asshole?
It wouldn’t be until high school that I gave it a try again, and that’s when I fell in love with the series. I’d matured some, I fully enjoyed the jazz and noir influence, the pop culture references(Toys in the Attic is still one of my favorite episodes) and the action. But once again, I didn’t fully reach my appreciation of Bebop until my life significantly changed and I joined the military. At twenty years old, not only had a spent 14 weeks away from home training, but I was stationed in Germany, which might as well have been on another planet, and I was going to be there for the next three years. Feeling more than a little homesick, I ordered Cowboy Bebop and the movie from Amazon and started watching it again in my free time.
This time, Bebop hit me a little differently. I still loved the same elements before, and the ending theme of Real Folk Blues brought me back to those nights alone in my room on a Friday night as a kid, playing with action figures and downing too much popcorn and soda. But the real draw was the world of Bebop and it’s strong characters. Every landscape, location, new character called to a sense of the unknown, it made me wish I could save up money for a ship and try my luck out there among the stars, without the obligation I’d just signed up for and (if I’m being honest) was regretting. I felt trapped in a world I didn’t within and Bebop was an escape. Real Folk Blues closing out the episodes connected with me then more than ever. This effect carried onto my deployment, where I would watch it on my laptop as I went to sleep, and when I returned and found a best friend to share it with. Finally, after leaving the Army for good, Bebop remained with me in a very good way. Though Outlaw Star always has and will be my favorite anime series of all time, I’m quick to tell anyone looking to get into anime that Bebop is a masterpiece and is where they should start.
This is because Cowboy Bebop represents a fusion of Japanese and Western influences beautifully crafted to tell many serial stories as well as an overarching one centered around them. The characters the show follows are realistic and well written. Their voice actors provided weight to them so much so that, despite their setting, the characters seemed more grounded than any other anime. Everything from the music to the characters to the choice of episode titles, blends Shinichiro Watanabe’s inspirations into a 26 episode collection of movie-quality episodes. As an adult, I better understood the crew of the Bebop as outcasts who were perfect for each other because of their rejections of the past. I understood the concepts and nuances a lot more and it became apparent to me that Watanabe and his team poured their hearts and souls into this show. So much so, that I never felt the need for a continuation or a adaption, Bebop was perfect the way it was. After all that time, the sessions still hit the beats of being melancholy, funny, larger than life, depressing, bittersweet and exciting. I think this is why Cowboy Bebop retains its rewatchability to this very day and has a steady fan base based off so little content compared to its heavyweight contemporaries.
So here’s to 20 years of Bebop: Two decades of audiences around the world enjoying and identifying with the adventures of Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed and of course, Ein. You can’t forget Ein.
I couldn’t write this without also thanking Shinichiro Watanabe and the crew who made it all happen. They thought what they were creating would be something special- they were right.