Aimless Wanderings 11: Cheesecake!
Now is the sort of mid/late-autumn of our discount tent. We have now entered the period of time when one season of anime is ending and another hasn’t quite started yet. Meaning, of course, that I don’t really have much new or interesting material to talk about at the moment, and thus will talk about stuff that is considered essential, or even classic, by many (here meaning me). These are the shows that got me started into anime, and I think that everyone who watches anime should watch these at some point.
Let’s begin with the most classic of the classic, Cowboy Bebop. This masterpiece, directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, tells the story of Spike Spiegel and the rag tag group that becomes the crew of the Bebop. Initially consisting of just Spike, a laid back ex-hood, and Jet Black, a hard nosed ex-cop, making a living (barely) by bounty hunting. They are soon joined by the mysterious femme fatale, Faye Valentine, the (mad) genius computer hacker, Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV(or Ed, for short) and the corgi, Ein. The show is mostly episodic in nature, but has over-arching stories that pop up from time to time. The story takes place in the late 21st century, where interplanetary travel is a reality thanks to hyperspace gates, and humanity has colonised most of the solar system. Earth has become a desolate wasteland, devastated by almost constant meteor impacts; remnants of the Moon, blown in half when a catastrophe occurred with the hyperspace gates. The series is 26 episodes long, and there’s a movie that takes place somewhere in the middle.
I cannot recommend this show enough. Besides being one of the only animes to lose nothing in the English dub, it is easily one of the biggest musical triumphs of all time. Composed by Yoko Kanno, the entire soundtrack to this show is just eargasmic; taking heavily from jazz, the music is as much a part of the show as the dialogue, sometimes even being used in lieu of dialogue to convey meaning. Cowboy Bebop has even been confirmed to be one of the major inspirations for Joss Whedon’s Firefly. There are a plethora of other things I could say to get you watching, but the show represents itself better than I ever could, so go watch it. I’ll wait.
Next on the docket is a sci-fi show of a different variety. Enter Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Based on Shirow Masamune’s manga, the show chronicles the assignments of a special task force called Public Security Section 9. Visually and audibly stunning, with music composed by Yoko Kanno(yes there is a trend, here), Ghost in the Shell can be watched from a multitude of perspectives; it is the futuristic crime drama, it is the existential discussion of what it means to be human, it is even the females in pointlessly revealing outfits, if you’re into that. Taking place in 2030, humanity’s standard organic bodies have largely been replaced with cybernetic ones, fitted with electronic brains, except for the poor or those who have religious objections. This has allowed humanity reach new heights but also, new lows. The first season tells the story of Section 9’s investigation into the notorious hacker, only known as the Laughing Man. When not only every thing, but everyone is a computer, hackers are serious business. The second season, or 2nd Gig, skips two years ahead to 2032, where Section 9 has repeated run-ins with a terrorist group called “The Individual Eleven”.
I can say little that somebody else hasn’t said better, so I’ll just leave this here for you to judge for yourself:
As a matter of fact, I think I’ll just leave it at that. While there are many other shows that influenced my decision to watch anime/read manga with such zeal, I don’t think any can compare to the two already listed. Even if I did bring them up, I would be retreading old ground.
I leave you with one word: “Bang”