Saturday, March 1, 2008

Screw It: Random Recap #1

Due to a vague hardware issue, I cannot play the anime series I've been reviewing. I was going to recap episode two of Kitaro, or any of the other series I've been neglecting, but instead, will have to stick my hand into the Mystery Box of Anime and see what shows or movies I have laying around to talk about. So... let's see...

Ah, Cowboy Bebop. One of the first anime series that introduced me to what good anime could be. Up until I caught an episode of this series on Adult Swim, I equated all anime with seizure-inducing, way-too-fucking-peppy cartoons badly dubbed into English. And it seems that Cowboy Bebop was the gateway-anime for a lot of fans. I won't bother with a lot of character descriptions or backstory since, if you're reading this site, you most likely know these characters well. So, let's jump right in.

Cowboy Bebop: Episode 20 ("Pierrot le Fou")

The episode starts out with the shadow of a fat man in a tall top hat against a building. A POV shot flies us up and over the building, while the sound of a cape flapping in the wind plays in the background. A set of legs and a cane fly through the air over 'The City,' as two security agents step out of a car. As the agents help an important-looking man out of a building, the formerly flying man walks down the alley towards them before gliding several feet closer. The agents ready their guns and the man shows his face. "I have come here to take your lives," he tells them.


Spike plays pool in a dimly lit hall. He wins, of course, and the unnamed man playing with him walks away without a word. Spike lights a cigarette outside and happens upon the fat man entering bullet upon bullet into the security agents, the important-looking man, and the car, using his cane-gun. Spike looks unimpressed. That is, until the man twirls his cane-gun, turns around, and greets Spike in a low voice. Spike dives behind a trashcan as the Penguin-looking fat man unloads a few shots. He fires off some shots, two of them hitting Non-Penguin in the chest, however they bounce off of a green field of some kind. Non-Penguin laughs and grits his teeth, making a sound that makes me uncomfortable. Non-Penguin hovers into the air and comes at Spike. If you've never seen this episode, this is the moment that Non-Penguin (Pierrot) becomes one of your favorite badguys. The dude's fucking creepy. The two engage in fisticuffs for a short while before Spike fires off a few more rounds, finding Non-Penguin really hard to hit. With a series of somersault kicks that Guile himself would be envious of, Non-Penguin leaves Spike on the ground, helpless and with a cane-gun pointed at his face. Before he can leave Spike a mess on the pavement, Non-Penguin is startled by an alley cat. He turns to try and shoot the cat - which, for some reason the seemingly invincible assassin can't hit - which lets Spike find a canister of explosive, plot-convenient gas. He rolls it towards Non-Penguin and shoots it. The resulting explosion takes out the entire block, probably killing dozens of families sitting down for dinner, and lightly tosses Spike into a wall. As he gets up, a knife pierces Spikes right arm, and Non-Penguin is standing behind him. Spike runs, but Non-Penguin fires some sort of Spike-seeking grenade that goes off just as Spike hits the nearby river. The nearby river that was probably built by the same people that leave giant, explosive canisters littered in back alleys. The shadow of Non-Penguin stands in front of the water for a second before fading away.

Jet's standing on the roof a building hitting up one of his contacts, Bob, for information on the crazy fat guy. Bob isn't keen on sharing information on this guy, but eventually gives up the name, "Mad Pierrot." Jet looks up at the audience, a little stunned, to make sure we heard the same thing.

Back on The Bebop (the spaceship), a bandaged hand reaches for an orange. Faye, of course, gets to it first. She sits on the table to eat the orange and berate Spike, who is covered in bandages. As he is wont to be. Faye drops the orange peel on Spike's head and walks off.

Later the same day, Bob is still telling Jet about Mad Pierrot. Based on the lighting, Bob's been talking about this guy he doesn't want to talk about for hours. Turns out, Mad Penguin has been killing top officials at the ISSP (Inter-Solar System Police) and everyone who gets a look at the guy without dying, eventually gets hunted down. "They say he appears with a smile, and he leaves with a smile." Plus, there's that creepy-ass floating trick he has. The dude's like The Penguin and The Joker rolled into one. Also a vampire.

Ein goes to tell Ed she has an e-mail, which she immediately takes to Faye. It reads: "Hello, boy, you're invited to a wonderful party..." Faye figures out that the e-mail was sent from that weird guy who almost killed Spike, and tells Ed that they can't tell him about it. She doesn't show it often, and tries not to, but she clearly cares about these people. Well, she doesn't want them hurt. Of course, they do kind of pay her rent... In any case, it doesn't matter, because Spike was standing behind her the whole time. The e-mail came from 'Space Land,' which sounds like a stupid amusement park for the future. It's like having a smaller, less-authentic, probably-smelling-of-vomit Disney World underneath the real thing, where all the people dressed up like cartoon characters just lay on the ground with their cartoon heads off. Spike wonders aloud if 'this is the one [he] won't come back from.' When Faye looks at Spike, semi-concerned, semi-annoyed, he says he was just screwing around. Bounty hunters have their own sense of humor.

Jet calls and Ed tells him that Spike left for 'somewhere.' He already knows who Spike went after, and asks Ed for a favor before the scene abruptly ends.

Spike lands outside of Space Land and steps out of his ship (Swordfish II), then grabs his side, still not healed from his last fight. Making sure he looks cool, he puts his hands in his pockets, his face down, and struts into the park. 'Cause if you're gonna die, do it looking like you don't care. Spike walks through the closed amusement park, which is full of rides covered with cartoon animals, which I guess are prevalent in space. At least it's night, so the shadows make everything look more like a Silent Hill game than Disney. There's a good twenty seconds where the only sounds are Spike's footsteps. A rarity in media these days; especially in an action series. Producers are so afraid that people will get bored if there isn't something happening every two seconds, that a soundtrack is almost always filled with some kind of noise. As Spike enters the center of the park, Mad Penguin turns on the lights and welcomes him to his doom. He then throws his arms into the air as fireworks 'plode behind him, the rides turn on, and slightly slowed down carnival music plays. Bullets are exchanged, glass shatters, and Mad Pierrot bounces around like Daffy Duck.

Spike takes shelter in some sort of holodeck set to that ice level in Super Mario 64, where a Navi-like sprite continuously informs him that, "It's dangerous in here!" Pierrot slides down a hill on a penguin and greets Spike with a cheerful, "Hi!"

Jet talks Ed through an ISSP database, that 'doesn't exist to the general public.'

Elsewhere in the park, Spike manages to shoot Pierrot a few times, but it's only to remind us that Pierrot has some sort of body armor. The bullets bounce off and Pierrot flies off laughing. Spike shoots and kicks a few animatronic cartoon mascots for good measure.

Ed finds 'it' and Jet tells her to find a file with the codename 'Tongpu.' She tries a few times to hack into the file, but is rejected.

Spike is hurled through the air by an explosion, landing in a rollercoaster car that takes off down the track. Pierrot passes Spike in another car, and wraps a whip around Spike's neck, dragging him out of his car and onto the track behind Pierrot. Spike's ride doesn't last long, as Pierrot tosses a grenade onto the track, letting Spike fall into the water below.

Ed hacks the file, which contains a flashback with a groovy techno soundtrack: A man in white lays helpless on the floor of a white room. Quick shots of vials and cells being injected are intercut with shots of the man in white gaining weight and looking sick. Various experiments are done on the man, including one where he gets shot and a green force field protects him as he shakes violently from pain. All the while, a black cat with two differently colored eyes looks on. The Ghost of Exposition Past voice-overs: "ISSP Assassination Ability Improvement Experiment, experiment sample chart number 46. Codename Tongpu. Confirmed a strong regression of the mind during the experiment." The AAIE was cancelled, and number 46 was to be kept out of sight and mind indefinitely. However, during his transfer, Tongpu sort of flipped out and escaped. Jet takes over and explains that Tongpu was first just out for revenge, but now seems to just like killing folk, and his mind is still regressing. "So, he's like a child with superhuman fighting abilities... there's nothing as pure and cruel as a child." Sweet. When I have a kid, they're so getting a chest cannon and laser eyes. But on with the show.

Spike pulls himself out of the water and Pierrot starts launching grenades at him. Faye flies into the action in her racer and opens fire on Pierrot. With a few grenade shots, Pierrot hits a giant pig statue which knocks Faye's racer down and forces Spike to dive through a store window to take cover. Thanks Faye. Why don't you sit out the rest of this episode? Pierrot laughs at Spike, lying helplessly in the store. As he tries to get up, Spike knocks a toy cat out onto the sidewalk. It starts to meow innocently, and Pierrot starts to freak the fuck out. He flashesback to the flashback we saw in the last scene and shoots the toy, but regains his composure quickly and shoots the gun out of Spike's hand, just as he was running away. A parade of giant, animatronic cartoon characters is coming up the road between them, as Pierrot points his cane-gun at the degunned Spike. Lights from the parade flash in and out as the two stare each other down. Spike reaches for a throwing knife he's been hiding behind his back. The light shines on Spike's cybernetic eye, which just happens to be the same color as one of the cat's eyes. Pierrot falters for a second, giving Spike his chance to toss his knife into Pierrot's leg. Spike gets a bullet in the shoulder, which isn't a big deal for an anime character. Pierrot, seeing the knife in his leg, starts to bawl like a six-year-old who just scraped his knee. As he screams for his mommy, literally, the parade meets Pierrot and tramples him. A giant cartoon dog steps right on Pierrot, ending the screams. Spike looks on, with the blank stare that only comes from watching a murderous man-child get smooshed under the foot of a giant, dopey dog with a snare drum. Jet calls Spike on his iPhone to tell him they've figured out what Pierrot is, but Spike calmly tells Jet that it doesn't matter anymore, then hangs up. Spike stands up, and as we pull away from Space Land, informs us that he 'hates theme parks.'

See you space cowboy...

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