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Review: Cowboy Bebop (Volume 2) (1999) Manga | My Reviews 12 APR 2012

Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 features all new chronicles on the famous exploits of the hapless Bebop crew Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong Ha (well… just Ed) and Ein. Bound by convenience, driven by woolongs, and usually starving, this quirky quintet may, or may not, get their bounty, but they’ll pursue it with vigor and tenacity… or at least that’s what an MBC TV producer wants to see when she does a story on them.

Annoyingly, the only two manga titles that were released for Sunrise’s hit show Cowboy Bebop weighed in at a measly two volumes and then three volumes respectively, and worse still, they were primarily targeted to shoujo, i.e. females aged 10 to 18 and fans of science fiction.

In other words, Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 by author Hajime Yatate and artist Yutaka Nanten failed to capture my attention, the end result being me not enjoying the books and thus not willing to give it a great score.

Of course, you could always say that I’m being unfair considering this isn’t being targeted to me, but unfortunately for you, these additional two facts help strengthen my view: a) The decision to write in a short story format (volume 2 is made up of 5 separate stories!) means no continuity, rushed conclusions and setup, and just no chance to actually build on characters which we came to love via the television anime run, and b) Yutaka Nanten’s artwork, though competent for the most part, does often come across rushed and sometimes to stylistically forced – heck, there are times she’ll simply not draw in character faces for no reason other than it made sense to herself at the time to do so! So not pleasing on the art front either then.

In case you’re interested, here is a breakdown what is contained in Volume 2:

She’s a Rainbow: Rachel M. Kazuki, a reporter for MBC TV wants to do a feature on bounty hunters, or as she calls them “Outlaw heroes. Rebels on the edge of society.” Faye negotiates a deal with Rachel, allowing her to interview the crew of the Bebop for a price, but when a bounty comes up Rachel wants to be first on the scene.

Great Deceiver: When Jet’s old ISSP friend, Bob, gives the crew a lead on a new bounty it becomes a personal job for Faye. The perp is Linda Wise, the woman who taught Faye how to become a hustler and con artist. She used to say that the first rule of hustling was to “win your keep and move on.”

Bebop Special Short: Jet has a cold and no one knows how to cure him. Spike and Faye go searching for scallions on Earth to help Jet but instead they get chased through a swamp and catch colds on their own.

Thinking Bird, Happy Song: Jet takes Edward shopping for food but she gets hungry and tries to eat an old man’s pet bird in a marketplace. An assassin has been commissioned to kill the same old man but Edward foils his plans without realizing it.

Like a Rolling Stone: Spike goes to a wild west town and meets an enchanting guitar player named Allison who offers to help him find his next bounty: her deadbeat father.

Yup, that’s too many stories in one little book.

So the end result is that just like the first volume in this series, the short story format is just too weak, making the book less engaging and thus less interesting. If you want a Cowboy Bebop fix, rather go and re-watch the exceptional television series or excellent movie that started it all in the first place!

Not worth picking up, even if you are a die hard fan.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_Bebop

Cowboy Bebop (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 22 DEC 2007

Cowboy Bebop Having ground earth into a hovel for only the basest beast to roam, humanity has colonized the solar system, opening up virgin frontiers into which gangsters, thugs and crooks can sink their sinister claws. It’s too much for the Inter Solar System Police to handle. So most of the time, these aberrations on the lily-white face of civilization have to be brought to justice by bounty hunters. And the best bounty hunters in the great vacuum of space call their home the Bebop. Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tirusky IV (Ed for short), and their data dog Ein cruise from one side of sol to the other, hoping to land a bounty big enough to feed their thrill of adventure as well as their typical empty stomachs, These are the chronicles of the Bebop crew, taking out crime Woolong at time.

I doubt there is any anime-fan created during the 90’s who haven’t heard of Cowboy Bebop, one of the seminal anime shows ever to grace the silver screen. It fused together genres completely unheard of, giving us a jazzy, noir space adventure unlike anything that had ever come before. Cowboy Bebop, the manga, was created after the show aired, basically hoping to cash in on its success. Written by Hajime Yatate and drawn by Yutaka Nanten, Cowboy Bebop consists of four short, unrelated stories, each detailing a separate adventure undertaken by the crew of the Bebop.

The stories aren’t of particularly high quality, and apart from the last one which takes a brief look at Jet Black’s past, the manga doesn’t contain anything close to character development for any of the characters whatsoever. In fact, this manga is purely intended for those already familiar with the Bebop universe and mainly for those die-hard fans that can’t get enough of Spike and the crew.

Artistically, Cowboy Bebop leaves a lot to be desired. Yutaka Nanten’s work comes along as very sparse and overly inked using too think lines that makes the art seem even more simple than what it already is. The facial expressions and body proportions aren’t that great, and to be honest, the art in Cowboy Bebop comes across a little jarring at times.

This manga translation of the hit anime series loses the style and atmosphere created by the anime thanks to its brilliant soundtrack and inspired, fluid artwork and in is really just a poor rip-off of the source, intended to be nothing more than a gap-filler for those really hungry otaku fans.

It’s not a great manga and if you are looking for something to read, I’d suggest looking a little further before picking up Cowboy Bebop.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_bebop