Cowboy Bebop: Stray Dog Strut   Rewatch 
August 12, 2014 9:29 AM - Season 1, Episode 2 - Subscribe

Spike and Jet's new bounty is a man named Abdul Hakim, who is wanted for stealing a briefcase with a lab subject in it. He won't be easy to spot, especially when he attempts to hide his identity.

A few facts from IMDb, but there is currently no note about how heavily this episode references Bruce Lee, from Abdul Hakim who vaguely resembles Kareem Abdul Jaamar, Bruce Lee's adversary from "The Game of Death," to the "Way of the Dragon model" nunchucks, and a bunch more.
posted by filthy light thief (18 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm not sure if the show is still running with regularity on Toonami or Cartoon Network, but I think you can sign in as a cable customer and watch it on AdultSwim.com, and there are plenty of grey-area streaming services.

This episode introduced Big Shot with Punch and Judy, the bounty hunters' public information source, and Ein the data dog. And there's a hint to future events with Spike's line "I hate kids and pets! They're all a royal pain in the butt!"
posted by filthy light thief at 9:59 AM on August 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


Awesome, I was hoping we'd keep the CB threads going. I'll pop the DVD on when I get back from work!
posted by Strange Interlude at 10:03 AM on August 12, 2014


One of my favorite elements of the series is how they handle Ein, a smart animal that still acts like a smart animal. He has high-level intelligence, but he applies it entirely to what a dog wants and does, which, along with their general dysfunctional obliviousness, is the reason the Bebop crew never catches on.
posted by kewb at 10:17 AM on August 12, 2014 [5 favorites]


I think I first noticed it in Session 1, but I wanted to note how amused I am by the mix of very current, standard elements there are in this world of the future. After flying through one of the toll booths, there's a paper receipt spit out. They still used some sort of liquid fuel that is pumped, and they still use keys to start their fancy flying machines. Then again, this is probably a semi-realistic future, like life here in 2014 is the future from 1954, or 1914. Some things are still pretty much the same because they work that way, while some things have been replaced wholly.

I was wondering about the Terraformed craters of Mars, and the Cowboy Bebop wikia has a brief bit on that, which makes sense to my simple mind:
Since Mars cannot sustain a life-sustaining atmosphere, terraforming the entire planet would achieve no results as the artificial atmosphere would be blasted off its surface by the solar wind of the sun as Mars does not have a magnetosphere which shields the planet from the sun's radiation. However life is sustained through the use of large craters, in which, an artificial atmosphere has been created to cover the crater and is constantly replenished so that the atmosphere does not thin out. In this way, a colony can be established with atmospheric and climatic features similar to those of Earth.
Maybe it is the easiest way to colonize the planet, versus trying to drastically change the entire planet
1. The surface temperature must be raised
2. The atmospheric pressure must be increased
3. The chemical composition of the atmosphere must be changed
4. The surface must be made wet
5. The surface flux of UV radiation must be reduced
The io9 article is actually pretty long and cites some people who have put a lot of thought into the whole thing.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:23 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


kewb: "One of my favorite elements of the series is how they handle Ein, a smart animal that still acts like a smart animal. He has high-level intelligence, but he applies it entirely to what a dog wants and does, which, along with their general dysfunctional obliviousness, is the reason the Bebop crew never catches on."

Another thing that I appreciated about Ein is that he was never turned into the series' linchpin MacGuffin, in the way that any kind of object or character that is rescued/stolen/runs away from a super-secret science lab generally does over the course of most sci-fi shows. Ein doesn't have any Umbra-clearance defense codes or classified schematics in his brain (or if he does, they're not interesting enough to him to share), he's just a dog who for all intents and purposes happens to have the Benji/Rin Tin Tin/Lassie canine-hero skillset. This comes in handy a few times, but his origins are not a key mystery of the show.

I also admire how CB had the guts to do a straight-up goofy slapstick episode right off the bat, after setting us up to expect a semi-serious crime/detective show in the previous installment. One gets the sense over the course of the show that it could encompass basically any tone and any genre, and this episode is where viewers were officially put on notice to expect something a bit different.

Something I've always wanted to know about BIG SHOT: In the original Japanese voice track, is there anything in Punch's dialect that suggests the wacky polyglot-cowboy accent he uses in the English VO? Because I'd love to know if that's just something the dub cast came up with for fun, or if it was fully intentional from the very beginning.
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:06 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


He has high-level intelligence, but he applies it entirely to what a dog wants and does, which, along with their general dysfunctional obliviousness, is the reason the Bebop crew never catches on.

Well, Ed knows. But Ed is so off the wall that no one ever questions her assumption that Ein is worth listening to.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:05 PM on August 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


I'm not participating in the rewatch (lack of time, not lack of inclination) -- but did anyone else read that title and instantly get "Want It All Back" running through their head?
posted by bettafish at 4:50 AM on August 13, 2014


I have a love/hate relationship with that song. It's catchy and fun, but somehow also grates on me.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:33 AM on August 13, 2014


filthy light thief: "I have a love/hate relationship with that song. It's catchy and fun, but somehow also grates on me."

It's also Exhibit A for the shameless "borrowing" that comes up now and again in the Kanno/Seatbelts oeuvre:

The Seatbelts, "Want It All Back" (1998) vs. Imperial Drag, "Zodiac Sign" (1996)
posted by Strange Interlude at 12:04 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It's also Exhibit A for the shameless "borrowing" that comes up now and again in the Kanno/Seatbelts oeuvre:

Wow. That's nuts. That's a full on cover. I didn't know that was a thing that Kanno did.

Any other examples?
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 5:05 PM on August 13, 2014


I don't really know the full story here, but I first got tipped off by a comment made by cthuljew last year in a thread on uncredited sampling in pop music. Some of the clips in the videos he linked seem more like pastiches than true swipes, but make no mistake, there's a fair bit of swiping going on too.

Example:

Yoko Kanno, Ghost In The Shell:SAC, "Lithium Flower"
Imogen Heap, "Whatever"

Based on my understanding of the Japanese music industry, they're quite a bit more tolerant of blatant lifts (particularly from Western artists) than we are here. I still think that Kanno is a great composer and arranger, but she's not above stealing here or there to meet the demands of a full musical score for a 26-episode series. At the very least, I think I now understand why the CB soundtracks never got a legitimate (which is to say non-bootleg) North American release.
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:36 PM on August 13, 2014 [2 favorites]


It just seems strange, when it could have easily been all above board by crediting the samples.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 6:49 PM on August 13, 2014


Where does this ocean go? from Ghost in the Shell is very similar to Bjork's Hyperballad. Both pretty songs, but they're obviously skilled musicians in their own right so I just don't get why they feel the need.
posted by forgetful snow at 9:08 PM on August 13, 2014 [1 favorite]


Based on my understanding of the Japanese music industry, they're quite a bit more tolerant of blatant lifts (particularly from Western artists) than we are here.

I am interested in your views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Is there anywhere I can find out more? Googlefu is failing me.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 9:13 PM on August 13, 2014


See also this example from chrominance comparing Cyberbird from the GITS: SAC OST and Hooverphonic's Battersea. It's the first example I'd heard of this, and it's pretty blatant. Kanno is a legitimately great composer, but apparently sometimes corners get cut.
posted by figurant at 4:25 PM on August 14, 2014 [1 favorite]


Something I've always wanted to know about BIG SHOT: In the original Japanese voice track, is there anything in Punch's dialect that suggests the wacky polyglot-cowboy accent he uses in the English VO? Because I'd love to know if that's just something the dub cast came up with for fun, or if it was fully intentional from the very beginning.

Nope, at least not to the ears of this gaijin. They're kind of silly/ over the top, but nothing so drastic as what I've heard in the English dubs (oh gods, Ed is terrible, and Spike is voiced by "the king of anime," Steven Blum, who has the distinctively deep, flat voice that sounds too similar to me to really enjoy). Maybe I'm just being a foolish otaku, but it seems to me that few English voice actors have the nuance and character of Japanese voice actors, and instead make the English dubs seem like cartoons, complete with over- (or under-)acting.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:46 PM on August 16, 2014


Strange Interlude: "Based on my understanding of the Japanese music industry, they're quite a bit more tolerant of blatant lifts (particularly from Western artists) than we are here."

His thoughts were red thoughts: "I am interested in your views and would like to subscribe to your newsletter. Is there anywhere I can find out more? Googlefu is failing me."

On further consideration, re-reading my statement above re: Japanese music and plagiarism from Western sources, I think I may have overgeneralized somewhat. There's plenty of original, non-derivative music coming out of Japan. That said, in the time I've spent listening to J-rock and pop, I've noticed some fairly obvious take-offs of Western songs. Off the top of my head:

Shonen Knife, "Buttercup (I'm A Super Girl)" -- Basically "Blitzkrieg Bop" with the words changed. Shonen Knife has never been shy about acknowledging their debt to the Ramones, but it's still kind of ballsy, IMO.

Polysics, "Each Life Each End" -- I cut the early Polysics a lot of slack, since they willingly took on the Devo mantle at a time when it seemed like nobody but me gave a crap about Devo. That said, a lot of their early songs are pretty much just Devo covers. In this case, "Each Life" is a sped-up version of "Girl U Want" with the words to "Red Eye Express" shoved into it.

Puffy, "Jet Police" -- A fun song that's pleasantly reminiscent of Budokan-era Cheap Trick, but for some reason starts off with the intro from "Baba O'Riley".

Of course, the plural of anecdote is not data, so I can't really say if it fits a pattern in the larger industry or not. But it is hard to imagine some of these swipes happening in North America without great ravenous flocks of copyright lawyers swooping in for some red meat.
posted by Strange Interlude at 5:33 PM on August 18, 2014


Calling in from the future!

Ein. Ein rocks. He exists like a pet/friend who is there, but doesn't fade away like a lot of "pets" do on shows (think Spot on Star Trek). There was definitely a nod to Enter the Dragon be it the nun-chucks that Spike looks over or the appearance of our bad guy, who kind of resembled Jim Kelly's character, and obviously, Spike's continual appreciation of Bruce Lee throughout the show. Which, oddly, connects it to Legend of Korra, but that's a tangent.

Turtle Headed Pet Shop Lady. So weird.

The first time we see the Bebop land in water, awesome. It's completely unexpected up until that moment, spaceships don't land on water....geez...and next episode, we learn she's an old fishing craft (and even later, fishing from said craft...)
posted by Atreides at 7:44 AM on February 9, 2015


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