The Incredible Legacy of Cowboy Bebop

By: Acey R.

Cowboy Bebop debuted in Japan 21 years ago in Japan. It has, in that time, become a staple in the anime scene, with an incredible ability to convey a story, in which  everyone can find something to love. From the characters to the pacing, to the incredible soundtrack, Cowboy Bebop has managed to wrangle in fans consistently for the past two decades.

This futuristic anime tells the tale of bounty hunters in space who fly around space, trying to cash in bounties (and failing pretty consistently) on their spaceship, the Bebop. We have Spike Spiegel, a former crime syndicate member; Jet Black, a former police officer; Faye Valentine, a woman who is incredibly irresponsible with money and a talent for trouble; Edward Won Hau Pepelu Trivruski IV, an incredible computer hacker of the fine age of 13; and last, but certainly not least, Ein, a corgi. Now, if you haven’t seen the series, you might think this is a random sounding assortment of main characters. It is, but somehow, it works beautifully.

Cowboy Bebop is the perfect combination of comedy and drama. It tells the story in episodic pieces that span over the course of just a single season, never seeming to drag on for too long. Along the way, it takes time to touch on and explore each character, and how they managed to find themselves on a crappy spaceship going after space criminals. In that way, it’s easy to start watching and it never rambles.

Many have, at least heard of this series – even people who aren’t anime fans have heard of or watched Cowboy Bebop. I found this series when I was in high school. I have had many a late-night re-watch and great conversation with other fans of every age about the fascinating series. I’m always amazed at the perspectives, lessons and theories each person I’ve encountered walked away with, especially considering that they are often so vastly different from my own, proving that there are as many stories of bonding with this series, as there are fans. As fun as this series is, there are many life lessons strewn throughout, which has made this series as timeless as it is.

My love for this series comes in two-fold, first with the dynamic characters the main cast encounters over the course of the 26 episodes. Each one is unique and makes each encounter fun, because you never meet the same character twice.

The women in this series, has especially caught my attention and their immense diversity has always fascinated me.  To come completely clean, Julia is my favorite character. If you don’t know or remember who that is, that is fair. Julia is Spike’s ex-lover and quite elusive throughout the series, referenced several times and only truly seen in around three episodes. Yet, Julia plays this essential role in Spike’s story. I have spent hours re-watching end credit scenes (seriously, highly recommend to give some context into the whole Julia, Spike and Vicious conundrum, if, like me, you care), reading theories and re-watching specific episodes. Julia has this beautiful mystery, as she is never explained, and no context is ever given, surrounding how Vicious, Spike and Julia came to know each other.  By leaving room in Spike’s story, the show allowed for room for speculation and that is one of my favorite styles of storytelling. Perhaps I’ve come to love Julia so much because of the character I’ve created in my mind. It is a rare opportunity to look at the context clues given and arrive at your own conclusions about the answers.

The other element of the story that I found compelling was based on my struggle with anxiety. Cowboy Bebop is a series that has many lessons in it, but the one I found most important was the ability to accept things as they are. One of Spike’s infamous lines from the series is as follows: “Whatever happens, happens”. I repeat this line to myself daily. I hold this series so close to me, because ultimately, it’s about accepting things as they are, handling them when we can and letting go when it is truly out of our hands. Cowboy Bebop has elements for everyone to connect with, and I’m glad to have found something for myself.

I love this series. It deserves all the hype and praise surrounding it and I’ve been happy to spread the word ever since I got to watch it. It manages to convey its story without being rushed and it tells you the perfect amount of story. It has managed to secure itself as one of the classics and I am so excited to see how it’s still so relevant, now at it’s 21st Anniversary!

So in closing, thank you for Cowboy Bebop. I hope you all get to watch it as well.

See you space cowboy!

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Learn more about the celebration of Cowboy Bebop at Otafest 2019:

Welcome to the Otafest Homecoming

By: Sarah W.| Photo: Yugophoto|

Two decades of Otafest.

I’m writing this article from southwest Ontario, where I’ll be traveling from to get to the convention this year. I’m thinking about my friend Red who I’ll be meeting at the con, and our friend Sel who can’t join for the first time since 2008 since she’s off teaching in Japan at present. We’re barely older than the convention itself and there’s something that feels profound about that, more so than the fact that this will be my 12th year attending.

No matter how much time I’ve spent away from Calgary, coming back for Otafest means coming home in more ways than one. I’m reflecting on convergences – the flights booked, the plans made, the messages sent, everything centering around one weekend once a year where it all comes together. My oldest friends were those that I met here. When I come home, it’s a family reunion, every time, without fail. When I was younger and lived in the city, things were easier. I spent a lot of money on costumes and merchandise. Then I got older, and started on my undergrad degree in a different province, and all of a sudden there were more demands on my time and money. Now I’m in my mid-twenties, and budgets sure are a thing, but Otafest is and always has been included in that budget. Family is a priority, even when they’re not related by blood.

The first time I ran a panel, I was so nervous I swear I didn’t stop trembling until an hour after it was over. Now, I get to see some of my closest friends hosting the events that we anticipated year after year. Kinda cool. I remember the late nights in my basement, still in high school, swearing as I stitch-ripped another seam or stabbed myself with a hand-sewing needle.  A few years later, my friends and I had younger cosplayers coming up to tell us how much we inspired them to do their own thing, or talking shop and getting excited – together – about the techniques of crafting that went into a particular costume, a specific outfit, a performance or skit. Everyone involved in Otafest from the attendees to the content providers to the staff generates a sense of support, acceptance, and encouragement to grow– isn’t that the meaning of community? Doesn’t that feel good, and feel right? It’s a community that gives back. I love that about it.

Otafest has gone through a lot of growth in the last few years. Some reading this will remember the early days at the University of Calgary, with all the coinciding volleyball tournaments, the events hosted in lecture halls and classrooms, and the spontaneous bouts of performance art on Cosplay Hill at the Prairie Chicken (may it rest peacefully in whatever new home it finds itself).  Others will have more recent memories spanning through the inception of pin collecting, to the introduction of our beloved mascots (in the plural), to the monumental move to the Telus Convention Center. Still others will have never been here before (a side note: the water stations are truly a blessing).

Whether this is your first convention, or your twentieth; whether you’ve been here every year without fail, or had to skip a few; whether  you produce content for the convention through panels, or support the charity initiatives in whatever ways you can, or are here mainly as an attendee… welcome.

From one attendee to another, I hope that you feel strongly the belonging and fellowship that this convention has given to me and so many of my friends. I hope that you laugh, take yourself on adventures, get to meet some of the amazing guests, support local businesses and artists, give to charity, enter contests, cheer on performers, play games, enjoy the festival, take photos – whatever feels right to you. The quality of this convention, and the care and attention of the staff, is what’s drawn me back year after year after year – after all, many of them have grown up with the convention in the same way that I have. There’s always so much love that gets poured into how Otafest is run – I remember seeing the chairperson or other staff members getting moved to tears by the results of the charity events every single year. That’s a lot of love. I hope that you can feel it.

I hope that for you, it’s a celebration to remember.

I know it will be for me. It always has been.