Ok, this is MAYBE kinda cheating since it’s an opening credits sequence from a theatrical feature and not a TV series opening, so it’s arguably a different form since it’s designed to play once and set a mood rather than play every week, but this is a seriously cool piece of animation and music so I really wanna talk about the Cowboy Bebop The Movie opening title sequence.
So, what’ve we got here? Well, as the title sequence for a sci-fi action anime film it’s kinda… unique. But then Cowboy Bebop was always a fairly unique anime in terms of style.
Essentially how I’d characterise this opening is as a series of vignettes of life in a large American city (I’d assume New York but I feel like one of my american readers is going to go “NO OBVIOUSLY IT’S CHICAGO” or something and I’ll look stupid). People jogging, eating hotdogs, playing basketball, that kind of thing. And none of these people, save for the appearance of Spike in the final shot, are in the film. So why use a sequence like this as an introduction to a sci-fi action film? Well, the literal explanation is that this isn’t an american city at all, it’s Mars City or whatever, but that’s kind of the thing. Cowboy Bebop isn’t really set in space, it’s set on Earth transplanted to space, mostly bits of America. Or at least America viewed through the lens of pop culture. So what we essentially have here is setting the scene, of a bustling American metropolis that happens to be on Mars, where our story takes place.
I’ve gotta talk about the animation and the direction. It’s gorgeous! Like, the character animation in this is absolutely spot-on, you could believe that all of the characters are real people. It doesn’t fall into the trap of excessively stylised anime designs mostly moving in ways copied from other anime. And the editing, like the cutting between the eating hotdog / yawning / crying bit, and how it’s all cut to the music and bits synch up… it just works so well. It’s really a gorgeous looking piece of work. I guess theatrical budgets can help but there’s just such a great level of artistry in this sequence.
And the music, well Yoko Kanno is probably one of the best composers working in anime, and the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack is probably her best work. Words kinda fail me to say how amazing it sounds, suffice it to say it works absolutely brilliantly with the sequence.
Wow, this is kind of just a lot of gushing, huh? Yeah, I just REALLY love this sequence. It really stands out and works so well even just on its own as well as setting the mood for the film.
And I just noticed rewatching it that there’s this really subtle change in colour timing throughout the sequence, like at the start it’s a more neutral greyscale, verging on sepia, but by the end it’s a very blue-tinged greyscale. It’s gotta be deliberate but I’m wondering what it means… maybe just a progression thing as the song builds up.
Also, hey on my other internet hobby project i.e. my youtube channel I recorded a cover of the music. Check it out! (go go gadget shameless self promotion)
Ask DNA: damn good opening sequence with a damn good song.