Why Cowboy Bebop changed my life

Photo by Tyler Meuter

This past spring, I wrote “How Cowboy Bebop changed my life.” I scratched the surface of my adoration for this series; there was more I wanted to say. I could fill all 24 pages of this paper with my thoughts of each episode if I were allowed to. This is the next best thing.

Back then, I wrote about how “Bebop” evoked my emotions, and I was able to do so while putting “Cowboy Bebop” in italics. Since then, the AP Style Guide has changed for the uglier, and I have thought more about this topic.

Who was I before “Bebop”? Why did my life change? Was it a positive change — the answer is obviously yes; we can skip this question. Could something else have changed me?

Based on my fuzzy memory of the first episode I watched, aided by a random forum post documenting every time “Bebop” has aired since 2001, my Time of First Bebop (ToFB) was Dec. 27, 2009, at 1:30 a.m. CST. I was halfway through junior year of high school, still reeling over the fact that college existed and I had to go.

There was never much going on at school; the highlight of my day was translating the “Aeneid” in Latin class. “How It’s Made” made my afternoons, and at night, it was the Toonami block. If someone asked if I had ever seen some movie, the answer was usually no; I could count the non-Disney movies I had seen on two hands. I didn’t listen to music. My favorite book was The Big Book of Everything (I can finally italicize something), which I read while grounded.

Maybe that’s typical for smart, introverted kids from upper-middle-class suburbs at all-male Catholic schools. Maybe that’s just me. But reading what I’ve written so far, I can honestly say life was just plain boring.

It’s no surprise, then, that best-anime-ever, TV-MA-rated, 1:30-in-the-morning “Cowboy Bebop” would have a profound impact on me. Twenty-eight minutes after ToFB had passed, I had witnessed the unabashedly coolest thing ever in my entire life. Once “Bebop”’s 650 minutes were up months later, I could do nothing but watch them again.

After that, I began watching movies, listening to music, scouring the digital sphere for something half as amazing as “Bebop.” I ingested so much media in such a short amount of time post-“Bebop,” a lesser human would have died.

Instead, I was influenced by each of the hundred movies I watched between then and coming to Tech. I paid attention to song lyrics as never before and began blazing through TV series, picking up on what made the characters so great. These things made me who I am now: the protagonist of reality. ToFB was the turning point of my life.

“Spirited Away,” “Léon: the Professional” and “Mad Max: Fury Road” are my favorite movies, and I wonder if watching those back then would have had the same impact as “Cowboy Bebop” had. “Bebop” is five times longer than any of those movies, but only several episodes are as good. I don’t know. Maybe any superb material would have gotten me. Maybe “Cowboy Bebop” wasn’t the best thing that could have happened to me.

“As if.”