Cowboy Bebop (1998): Cowboy Bebop: Cowboy Funk   Rewatch 
December 21, 2014 2:23 PM - Season 1, Episode 22 - Subscribe

While Spike is after the Teddy Bomber, he comes across Cowboy Andy, the other bounty hunter that criminals fear. And he's a real cowboy fanatic, with the horse, the costume, an entrance song and he's a member of the YMCA (that is, Young Men's Cowboy Association). Well, he was, until he was kicked out for causing too much trouble. Can the Teddy Bomber finish his monologue without being interrupted, and will Andy and Spike find a way to co-exist in the small world of bounty hunting?

"I lose. That was some punch. You are a true cowboy."

"It was all a waste, wasn't it?"

See you, space samurai
posted by filthy light thief (3 comments total)
Andy is like the bad Americanized version of Spike - both are focused to a fault, worse than Jet "The Black Dog" when it comes to latching onto a target and ignoring the world and any consequences. But Andy is more oblivious, forgetful and/or self-centered. "Here's looking at ... my reflection, kid."

And in the Japanese version, his language is peppered with English words, making it even more clear that he's trying really hard to find himself. Then he re-defines himself as a samurai, changing his preferred name from Wyatt Earp to Musashi. I'm still not sure who/what Jiroumaru is/was.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:31 PM on December 21, 2014

I think Jirōmaru (a Japanese name that appears to roughly translate as Jirō = "second son", maru = "circle") isn't necessarily meant as a direct reference to anything, in much the same way that the horse's "cowboy name," Onyx, feels more evocative of Western horse names ("Silver", "Lightning" et al.) than something more specific. It's just to show that Andy is intent on re-theming everything in his life to match his new samurai fixation, down to what he calls his trusty steed.

This episode is probably the most on-the-nose expression of one of the show's recurring leitmotifs, i.e. confronting Spike with a troubling doppelganger that represents an unrecognized part of himself. Andy's character design is literally just a blond Spike, and his indelicate way of pursuing bounty heads is only a few steps removed from Spike's own reckless nature. The superficiality of Andy's cowboy/samurai pose also calls into question Spike's actual commitment to his practice of Jeet Kune Do (and his apparent Bruce Lee fanboyism): We've seen that Spike totally embraces the ass-kicking side of JKD, but doesn't have much use for the philosophical and spiritual side of it.

Just like "Waltz for Venus" with its plane hijacking scene, this episode went unaired during its original late-2001 Adult Swim run because of the depiction of terrorist bombings and collapsing buildings. Looking back on the whole thing, I'm torn between finding Teddy Bomber's plot both quaint (he's an obvious Ted Kaczynski takeoff, a reminder of when domestic terrorists were mostly just funny-looking old men with manifestos) and still freshly shocking after all these years. (Just how many people were on that bridge between the towers, anyway?) Handling terror bombings with this light of a touch shouldn't really work for an episode that's meant as a sorbet between both "Pierrot le Fou" and "Brain Scratch", but they pull off the mismatched-frenemy plot pretty well notwithstanding. Since this is the last purely Spike-centric ep before the finale, the comic relief is welcome.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:07 PM on December 22, 2014

For anyone following up on this series, you could watch the Cowboy Bebop movie (Knocking on Heaven's Door) [FanFare link] after this episode and before the next session. At least, that's where the movie fits in the canonical chronology of the show.
posted by filthy light thief at 6:52 AM on February 4, 2015

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