Anime

Animini: Cowboy Bebop – Episode 5 – Ballad of Fallen Angels

Steamed Hams and steamed hello’ my sweet Island Guests! Closing of the week has never been as exciting as before I watched cowboy Bebop! Of course I have already watched this episode before sunday.. so it’s more of a metaphor but still! This show is really really good! This episode is easily the best one so far. With a dark broody tone .. and what I assume will be the series villain being introduced. I vaguely remember being spoiled by the “Bang” scene  and I think I saw that guy! Not sure and please don’t confirm or deny.. Yet.. boy.. did I have some fun this week! 

The Summary

The episode begins with a shady deal between two mob-like boss figures making a treaty of sorts. One looking a bit friendlier and human than the other.  They are in his house when the deal is closed when he sees his guest leave.. he also sees the man is blown up!  Then strangers walk into his house and hold his neck against a Katana. A man named Vicious shows up.. though the name is only revealed later. With a little motion he has the man known as Mao Yenrai executed.  Unbeknownst to Jet that this bounty has become inaccessible he finds himself at odds with Spike.. who doesn’t want to take this bounty for unknown reasons. The lack of transparency  vexes Jet.. while Faye walks in after a successful shopping trip, showing she has now fully joined the crew. I like how that happened. It makes it feel a bit more natural. Spike walks off angrily and goes planetside to walk it off.  There he meets a shopkeeper named Annie, shocked to see Spike alive. Apparently he had connections with her and Mao in the past.. and this Vicious  guy seems to be part of the same organisation as Mao.. as the guy spoke of betrayal.. I am not sure.. but I think that was what happend.

Faye however does not know about all this backstory and just sees a high bounty number so she decides to try and capture Mao.. and she finds herself being overwhelmed by a surprisingly well prepared Vicious and his mobsters. He must have one heck of a source.  She gets captured and Spike goes back to the Bebop .. but is armed by Annie.. now goes to stop Vicious.. there seems to be a lot of past between these two.  The meet is in an old church.. that I think will also be the scene for the final episode.. but I am not sure!   A shootout happens and Faye manages to escape while Spike pursues Vicious.. not letting a few gunshot wounds stop him. Faye calls Jet for help not wanting to see Spike get killed and the man reluctantly goes to rescue his friend. Who fights Vicious in front of a stained glass window. The two have a mexican standoff but instead of rolling away like gentlemen and resetting the fight.. both take the killshot.. missing because both get harmed. Spike gets stabbed and Vicious gets shot… but Vicious manages to throw Spike out the window towards his death.. but the quick fingers of Spike allow him to leave a grenade behind.. As Spike falls to his death.. his life flashes in front of his eyes..showing shards of the story of him and vicious and a blonde girl that I think got killed by Vicious.  The church explodes.. and Spike’s vision goes dark.. he Remembers the blond woman singing to him.. but it is actually Faye watching over him on the Bebop.. he calls her tonedeaf and she punches him with a pillow and tosses cards on him an ace of space is used as a recurring symbol.

The Positives

Almost everything was spectacular in this episode. Every single set piece carried so much weight. The opera house, the house of the Mafia guy , the tiny little store, the church. It brings so many layers of society to the table. It shows people linked in the past are at very different places now. It also fills in some of the classic Film Noir tropes quite well. Which really gives this episode so much atmosphere and weight. It feels important just because of how things unfold.  We see heavier use of visual metaphors with the ace of spade, the flashbacks, the dramatic slow motions. the bigger close up on the eyes.  It all has been seemingly designed to carry weight.. to feel big. I do not realise yet what the full scope of this is.. but it all feels some more relevant than Twinkle Maria last week! The stakes are higher here.. this matters more and it oozes out of every pore of this episode.  From the way Vicious is designed but brought into frame that clearly to the sepia filter of Spike’s memories.  The implications that Spike now knows?! Was he a criminal before as well? What caused him to fake his death.. is this blond woman really dead? I assume so.. but  the film follows classic Noir Archetypes.. so you never know. 

I really enjoyed how the action felt once again.  The guns seem to really have a kick to them.  Characters hold still to fire, even when running towards their opponent there is this moment where they let the gun do the talking.. and it seems much more subjected to real life forces. Not always.. but the way bullets shoot church pews away, how different weapons are used at the same time and how they interact with the environment differently makes this fight have such an impact. In 90% of the anime mobs all use the same gun and half of the time it makes just a few sparks people jump over.. here Spike has to run dip and dodge depending on that type of arm his enemies have. It just ands so much oomph to the action.  The explosion from the church also was pretty amazing…. granted I do not think the explosion should be that big given how the first grenade exploded.. but the falling out of the window scene.. with the shards of glass chasing Spike as his eyes dim.. was one heck of a well done “action” scene.  So much motion and it really felt as if everything had different weight when falling.  I really love that sense of materialism.. that this show has..  it’s not so much.. how do we make this look cool.. but more Hollywood.. where I can see this in live action much more than most anime.. that sounds like a determinant..but not for this show..  not for me.

The Negatives

The downsides of this episode are ones I really had to look for with a fine toothed comb. The first is that I kind of dislike that Vicious knows about Faye Valentine.  Unless Jet is a traitor of sorts which I highly doubt right now.. It doesn’t feel like it’s knowledge he should have.  Then again she has been shopping on the planet..but assuming her association with Spike seems just that tiny bridge too far. Just like how big that final explosion was.  It works in the confines of this world but it felt like just a tad much. I would have preferred she gave up her association with Spike herself.. then when he rushed in to save her.. she regretted it prompting her to call Jet.. now Vicious feels a bit high and mighty.. considering what we have seen other people in his position do with their power. Minor  thing though.

There are a few more things like this such as Faye being able to have her spaceship equipped with gun turrets land in front of a high prestige opera house seems like something these worlds should have a counter for. The shoplifting  boys seem a bit to dumb.. why would you steal the same nudy magazine as your buddy.. in that case one of you goes to pay for a paper plane and let someone else steal the bigger item… while you distract to she shop keep (yeah I stole something as kid once or twice…)   much better strategy!  The kids did not fully feel like kids!  Yet that is me really nitpicking.. it’s all just super fun and exciting to go through and some minor weird things in no way decrease that joy.

The Score

This was by far the best thing I watched this week! And I actually had a pretty good week!   With two other Star Fruits and lots of Berry Goods.  Yet since this one is my favourite I bet you can guess what grade it is going to be!  It was so good!  Not only did it show us the past and wet our appetites for a bigger puzzle, I think it might also have foreshadowed things as well.  Let’s not forget that indian prediction in episode 1. He would meet a woman that would lead to death.. it can be referred to the cowboy woman of episode 1 but now I think.. this blonde chick will show up again and it will lead to Spike’s death! I am not sure.. that’s just what I think. This episode got me super excited!

I have to shout out the music as well , it felt really different from what we saw before.. again establishing those higher stakes through everything. Story, visuals and sound design all come and tell us what to feel and I love that kind of thing!  Where visuals and sounds are not just used to establish grandeur..even though here it does.. but also convey an emotion. This episode doesn’t only feel big.. it feels important.. it feels deeper. I want to see more!

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