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on 21 February 2005
Cowboy Bebop is one of my favourite series of any kind and not just anime. It follows the life of Spike and his bounty hunting colleagues who inhabit the Bebop spacecraft and ply their trade on the inner planets and asteroids in the mid to late 21st Century. It's conceived as a western (cowboy) series in space but don't let that put you off because it's very cool. The characterizations are excellent, animation superior and the attention to detail marvellous. Basically it's just really stylish and also has good music. It's more adult than most animes and more than the sum of its parts.
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This volume again contains 5 episodes (6 - 10).

The future depicted in Cowboy Bebop becomes more articulate in these 5 episodes as we see more of the technology of the future and learn about the future of Earth (which is now prone showers). But as before - this isn't a showcase for glitzy sci-fi tech, it's gritty and there are more down-and-outs than glamorous characters. It's vision of the future is a believable one and seems routed in todays reality - there's even an episode about trucker culture, the trucks may be in space - but the lorry drivers of today would be able to identify with the cargo pilots in Cowboy Bebop.

Again the focus is on characters and this volume cements them together further - even if Spike and Jet do seem to have to issues with Valentine. They make a great team though and by the end of this volume there's an extra member on board, the young genius hacker (and tomboy) "Radical Edward".

As part of the character development there are hints to a darker past for Spike, and we get an insight into Jet's history, not just his previous career - but his past relationships. He gets to face the ghosts of his past and instead of seeing the crew of CowBoy Bebop as laidback carefree bounty hunters, we understand that they are people with histories and have been hurt as we all have.

This series appealed to me the moment I started watching the first episode and the quality continues here, the animation is incredible and the themes mature. The music which stood out when first watching this still sounds fresh and funky, it also feels so natural for the series and it's fair to say that audio is every bit as impressive as the visuals - even the American dub sounds great.

In a nutshell: Does this live up to the high standards set in the first volume? Yes - absolutely. Each episode contains a standalone story - but they thread together to form a wider expanse of anime magic.
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on 2 August 2008
Quite simply how anime should be done but so often isn't. No over-emotional garbage, no cheap shortcuts, no lazy "It'll do" animation. Felt quite deflated when I'd seen every episode. Anyone interested in animation should check out this along with Shinichiro's other creation; Samurai Champloo. Oh and, don't be lazy, watch the subtitles version.
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