In "Sympathy for the Devil," session 6 of Cowboy Bebop, we see a fleeting view of the skyline. The image is doused in blood orange, but it's otherwise typical rooftop New York--the kind of typical and timeless that ends up on a postcard in a corner shop. Years ago when I watched this scene from a glowing computer screen in a small town in Ohio, the moment was lost on me. Ten years later, I'm scrutinizing the lit up, triangular crown of a skyscraper like I'd seen some ghost. If I were an anime character, the moment would have been captured in a freeze frame and drawn out with harsh, jagged lines as realization dawned. In East Village, New York, I realized:
It was the Chrysler building.
Only, it took me ten years to know it by sight, and it was the weight of the ten years. what was lost, what was gained, that made the same harmonic song all the more startling.
Ten years later, Cowboy Bebop is still genius. The tropes of anime did not detract from its sophistification, its beauty, its ability to deliver a well-crafted, complete storyline in under 30 minutes, with characters that are whole and flawed, who are more real than your best acquaintance. Watching all this again is as if I'm gazing into my fifteen-year-old self, like Faye in "Speak Like a Child," falling into a strange, lonely, lovely past, waiting, still waiting for something inexplicable.
I don't get this show anymore than I did before. If anything, I might commiserate less as I slowly tumble out of the obsessive stages left from the teenage years. Those were the years reserved for day dreams, fiction, an audacity to love and cherish deeply.
These days, I meet people who love Cowboy Bebop. Who are travelling half way across the world for a Shiina Ringo concert. Who watched Battle Royale as obsessively as I. Somehow it feels like life has come full circle, and I almost wish I could stare down every fifteen-year-old obsessed with things a little strange and let them know that it's okay, it's okay because one day, the world will grow bigger, and much much smaller, and you will meet a boy who wished he could be Spike Spiegel.
See you Space Cowgirl.