Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Sounds of Cowboy Bebop

I thought I would take a little break from the toys and talk about my love for one of the greatest sound tracks of all time. It's the sound track to a little Anime known as Cowboy Bebop, more specifically the Box Set for Cowboy Bebop. Now I like a few Anime, I grew up on a mixture os Starblazers and G-Force (the American names I believe) along with my usual American/British fare Super Friends, Rocky and Bullwinkle, and Thunderbirds. My son loves Anime; Gundam, Dragonball Z, old stuff, new stuff, you name it, he knows it. So one evening he tells me there was this show I should check out on Adult Swim on Cartoon Network, Cowboy Bebop. It starts like this... go ahead I'll wait.

The title sequence had me at hello, the story of futuristic bounty hunters called cowboys living the hard life had me as well, but the music, the sweet , sweet music of this Anime was the deal clincher. This show was full of amazing songs from the introduction featuring the song Tank! to the ending credits rolling the song the Real Folk Blues, and everything in between. The moods of the animation are perfectly reflected in the music and the music fits the show so well, it has to be considered the best that Anime has to offer.

So I had to get ahold of this music, not an easy feat living in Texas, might as well be on Mars when it comes to anything other than Country or AC/DC, not that there is anything wrong with either of those, it's just hard to get the imports. So I started searching the web and found that they did indeed have soundtracks for the different Sessions (Sessions are what Cowboy Bebop calls episodes) Oh Joy, oh wait a minute not available. Ebay... nope, nothing there either, or at least the days I looked. I did find a few poorly mastered WAV files, they just didn't cut it. So I was left hungry for some of the coolest music on the planet.

The day came that we would make a trip, three hours to be exact, to Houston. My son was with us and we decided to stop at a cool little mall this side of Houston for some food, it had a Rainforest Cafe sticking out of it, he had never been there so my wife and I thought we would treat him. We decided to walk off our meal and take in this really cool indoor mall, it seemed like it had everything and then we found it, tucked away by a burger stand and a Sam Goody a little Anime shop. Nothing but Anime movies, toys, banners, and CD's. Like a comic shop for people who loved Japanese cartoons. My son ran for the Gundam section and I thought I would strike up a conversation with the shop owner about Anime soundtracks. He pointed somewhat casually when I mentioned I was looking for Cowboy Bebop music at a wall were the CD's were kept and said he pretty much had the whole catalog, I didn't know where to start. I picked up a couple different CD's , and had to leave this box set where i saw it because of the price. It was running about 80 bucks at the time, a little expensive, but man I wanted to get it. He told me that the Cowboy Bebop music wasn't too popular with the kids, but he thought it was some of the best around.

Over a period of a year and a half we made a few trips to Houston, and every time we would stop in the Anime shop, the owner recognized us every time, even though months had past. Every time I would pick up a few more CD's for the trip home and drool over the box set. Then on one such trip I was again looking over the box set, pretty much the last of the Cowboy Bebop catalog he had in stock and the owner walked over and said "well, we'll be closing at the end of this month" I was deflated, I didn't know what to say I was standing there thinking how I would miss this shop when we made our trips, he looked at the box set and said "how about half off?"..."huh, what?" snapping back to reality. "how about half off for the box set, you pick it up every time you come in, and I will just half to pack it up when we move." "You mean 40 bucks? Really?" I said, he replied "Sure, consider it a thank you for shopping with us!" Now I'm sure this set could go for about that overseas, but being imported here in the states that was a hell of a deal, I was actually thinking when he told me they were going out of business if I had enough to cover the full price. So was it worth it? Would it be worth 80, 100, more? I would say yes. Four Cd's, 96 songs including live tracks, easily worth it. Is the series worth even tracking down the DVD's? Yes, and I have, it is really that good.

So here's a little that I found out researching the music of Cowboy Bebop. The easy was that the music was by Yoko Kanno and a group called the Seatbelts. A Japanese band formed by Yoko Kanno for the purpose of producing the music for the show. I had read that she made a trip across the U.S. and was inspired by all the variations of music she heard on busses, planes, in parks, on the streets, that this was her inspiration for the music in the show. I have imagined this young lady making a trip to a foreign country and being so taken by all the forms of music that she goes home to write music better than what she heard in the first place. What a wonderful story. I'm always interested in more info on the band, so if anyone can clue me into current happenings with the Seatbelts and Miss Kanno, drop me a comment. I hope my readers, if not familiar with the voyages of the Bebop and her crew, go rent or watch a session. I guarantee you will not be disappointed in the show or the music. Till then... See you space cowboy.


Jon K said...

I also became a fan of Cowboy Bebop thanks to CN... and yes, the theme song is probably the most awesome theme song of any cartoon, ever (yes, even more than the classic Spider-Man theme or Speed Racer)! I loved it so much I found an MP3 online somewhere years back to download and add to my iTunes!

Just watched the "best sessions" DVD set not too long ago, thanks to the library... and loved it as much as ever!

What did you think of Outlaw Star? I liked that one a lot, too!

chunky B said...

I caught a few episodes of Outlaw Star, my son really liked it, maybe more so than Bebop, I thought it was okay. The one that I really found interesting, and watched it every time my son tuned in was Full Metal Alchemist.

Van Dyke said...

What a heartwarming story :)

I watch CowbowBebop back in 2001, when MTV started to stream animes like "LupinIII" and "Goldenboy".

Back then, I was somethin around 12 or 13 years old, I realy liked it.
I dunno what it was, but all the years till now in 2014, Bebop made a appearance every now and then.

A couple days ago, a friend mentioned it again and for the first time in years I felt this special exitement again.

I didn't even finish the series yet and a few minutes ago I managed to grab the soundtrack for 40€ on eBay :D

Oh I'm sure you can feel my goosepumps, haha.

Thanks for sharing your story with us, even so you wrote this back in 2008.

I'm so exited for the soundtrack to arrive.
It will be played now everytime my friends and I enjoy a little smoke in my livingroom.

chunky B said...

Hi Van Dyke,

Thanks for the comment. I am sure if you enjoyed the anime, you will enjoy the sound track. I still keep it in rotation on my iPod. Great music to work by.