Good Morning: See you, space cowboy

Michael Hutchins
Herald Democrat
Michael Hutchins

As fans of many books, movies and television series can attest, there is no fear quite like waiting for a beloved work to be reimagined in another medium. From the Harry Potter movies to the recent iteration of Dune, one's inner fan always worries about getting it right.

I will be feeling this myself over the next three weeks as I wait for Netflix to release the live action adaptation of my favorite animated television series of all time. A few years ago, Netflix announced that it was adapting the Japanese anime into a live action television series, which will be debuting on the streaming service next month.

I've been rewatching the series recently with a few friends in anticipation for the live-action reimagining. Some of these friends are watching it for the first time. Meanwhile, I am rediscovering why I fell in love with it in the first place.

I first encountered Cowboy Bebop in 2001 when it became the first Japanese anime to be aired on the fledgling Adult Swim network. The channel, which  shared space with Cartoon Network, aimed to bring a more adult and mature approach to cartoons and animation.

I remember instantly falling in love with the show as it truly was unlike anything I'd seen up to that point.

The show, even down to its genre, is difficult to explain without just dropping someone into the deep end. In many ways it truly blends multiple genres together into something all its own. It has elements of westerns, noir, science fiction and, perhaps its biggest inspiration, heroic bloodshed movies ala John Woo.

The genre blender approach extends into the shows soundtrack which includes a variety of country, blues, jazz, rock and world music, primarily created by show composer Yoko Kanno. Over the years, the soundtrack, which takes up several volumes of work, has been held in as much, if not more, regard with fans than the show itself.

The follow follows a crew of space bounty hunters in the later half of the 21st century. Mankind has expanded to the far corners of the galaxy, but hasn't gone much further than that. Human colonies are common place on the majority of the galaxy's planets and moons, but aside from a few examples, we appear mostly alone in the universe.

As humanity has spread out across the milky way, as have the  undesirable elements, and many places are treated like a frontier where bounty hunting helps the overwhelmed police.

The crew struggles with taking in a variety of bounties, struggles with starvation and keeping up a broken down spaceship all while trying to run from their individual pasts. These backgrounds are explored throughout the series, which attempts to show and not tell the histories of the crew through scraps throughout the story.

 The theme of time is a major thematic element, along with loneliness and ennui, with some people unable to escape their pasts, some unable to move on from it and others sensibilities from a long forgotten era. As the show says throughout, you're gonna carry that weight.