Someone’s Showing a Bit of Character: Faye Valentine

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“You know the first rule of combat? Shoot them before they shoot you.” Faye’s got the secret to surviving life figured out and it involves lying, cheating and stealing as much as you can from the other guy before he does it to you. She’s adept with her Glock 30 pistol, her Redtail ship and in hand-to-hand combat but Faye’s real weapon is attitude. If she’s not two-timing you she’s probably cutting you with her biting sarcasm. Or even more dangerously, using her sex appeal to get what she wants.

Of course this is only half of the equation. What I really love about Faye is that she’s a contradiction. Strong but emotionally vulnerably, greedy but only because she’s in so much debt, and unable to trust people but needs companionship more than she’d ever admit. Faye can’t remember a thing about her past and this is one of the rare occasions where giving a character amnesia actually greatly adds to the story instead of being a dumb, overused plot device. After all, it brought us one of the best episodes of Cowboy Bebop: Hard Luck Woman.

ghostlightning: The above paragraph and all sorts of goodness is brought to us today by the avatar of Faye, East Anyhow’s  Lbrevis. Together we take on Faye, who’s got enough moves for two writers to take on.

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What is your favorite Faye Valentine ‘moment’?

Lbrevis: Episode 5 “Ballad of Fallen Angels” when lured by a large bounty she gets involved with the Red Dragon Syndicate. She waltzes straight into an opera house to find their boss without realizing just how much danger she’s in. Naturally it all goes terribly wrong but her bravery, or stupidity as it may be, is still impressive. She does the whole thing with style too, from haughtily flipping her keys to the valet and telling him to park her ship (bad move, he tips off the syndicate) to getting all dressed up for the occasion.

ghostlightning: Episode 26 “The Real Folk Blues 2” when she was trapped, finally. She never took the time to think about what her friends on the Bebop, and Spike meant to her. Now she knows that Spike is leaving for good. She shoots at him repeatedly, but never really at him, within the confines of the Bebop’s hull. The moment really shows how limited her range is when it comes to being with people. Her weakness adds so much to her charm for me. And without feeling, Spike tells her what he’s really setting out to do. And that’s what we’re left of her.


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What do you think is her crowning moment of awesome?

Lbrevis: Faye’s dogfight against Spike after she steals Spike and Jet’s bounty who just happens to be her former boyfriend Whitney. Although she loses pretty fast we get to see that what’s really important to her, more than any money in the world, is finding out about her past. It’s a desperate, selfish move but I can’t help loving her recklessness and the softer side that shines through right before she grabs Whitney by the collar and starts demanding answers.

ghostlightning: I find it difficult to pick out a singular moment of awesome for Faye, because part of what makes her awesome for me is how vulnerable she comes across. Even when she talks smack or acts tough, you can sense that something’s off, that she’s not all there.

In Episode 25 “The Real Folk Blues Part 1” Faye comes to the aid of a striking blonde lady, someone who gave her the impression of being ordinary but made her contradict herself: “a kind of dangerous beautiful ordinary that you just can’t leave alone… Like an angel from the underworld or a devil from paradise.”

And in that moment she met her match in a battle that she didn’t even know she was in. Julia carried herself with a beauty that makes Faye’s diminished. Faye looks skanky and cheap right next to her; even Julia’s story just seems more tragic than hers.

And she can’t help herself but stop and help her, as if trying to get her approval – which she did, because she is awesome. But then Faye is confronted with thoughts that she was too lazy to entertain: Spike loves this woman, and Faye never really thought about how she felt about Spike.

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Why is she so damn hot?

Lbrevis: Is it the hot pants? It’s the hot pants isn’t it. That and the fact that she’s a real woman who has a gun and is not afraid to use it. She’s sexy but dangerous.

ghostlightning: Beyond her voluptuousness, Faye is so screwed up and yet guttily tries to fix herself up inside. I don’t think it ever really works, but is this… moe?

Lbrevis: I don’t even want to know what can of worms you’ve just opened but if people suddenly start referring to Bebop as a moe show I’ll know who to blame.

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Is Spike so stupid not to have done it with her at least once?

Lbrevis: No because it would’ve seriously messed up the crew’s dynamics and since his heart was stuck on Julia he couldn’t have given her his full attention anyway. That said, if Charlie Parker had come to him in a dream and urged him to do it…

ghostlightning: Yes, he’s stupid. Faye is so damn hot. If he did however, it won’t mean he isn’t stupid for the reason Lbrevis pointed out; but he’s definitely stupid for passing on Faye. BUT, for this unresolved sexual tension their particular story takes on a romantic tragic hue – no matter how faint it appears in the narrative. I think I like it very much.

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What track from the OSTs do you think suits her best?

Lbrevis: “Call Me Call Me” is forever associated in my mind with Faye’s most tragic moment but I think I have to go with “Cosmic Dare (Pretty With a Pistol)“. It’s the track playing over the radio when she’s flying her Redtail in the beginning of the movie. Considering the title and the singer’s voice I wouldn’t be at all surprised if it was written with Faye in mind.

ghostlightning: Argh, I can’t agree more. Hmm, apart from this I’d go with “Want it All Back .” It evokes an image of Faye with a loser boyfriend. Which makes me think about Faye (and the rest of the crew) as losers, but the kind you just love.

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Both of us have this attraction for Faye; she’s the designated fanservice character in the show but there’s more to her than that. That said, Cowboy Bebop just doesn’t club you with how serious or dramatic, or deep her character is. It’s a snapshot of sadness, and her image stays with us still.

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
This entry was posted in Dialogues, showing a bit of character, today's special guest writer and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Someone’s Showing a Bit of Character: Faye Valentine

  1. coburn says:

    The bit in episode 26 is great, only it made me think of the film Top Fuzz – where they have a whole in joke about blokes firing guns off into the air in frustration. Anyway, I don’t particularly like Faye, but she’s part of a really really great show so I still got loads of nostalgia from this post.

    There once was a tiger-stripe cat. This cat died a million deaths and was reborn a million times and should have hit that.

  2. Once again, you have crated an amazingly deep character post that has leapt off the screen and made me feel your love. I want to rewatch CB even more now (and already significantly did.)

    >>Like an angel from the underworld or a devil from paradise.

    Made me think of Shiraishi Minoru singing ‘she’s an engel, no, she’s a deviru~’

    I love how you spoke of Faye’s weakness which I’m sure will be in my mind when I watch the show again. Also, I hadn’t remembered what scene call me call me was from but that song is fucking amazing.

  3. ghostlightning says:

    @ coburn

    I’m quite surprised you didn’t find Faye as interesting as we did. I’m actually hit by quite a violent wave of nostalgia beyond anime right now thanks to a locally published (Philippines) graphic novel that’s quite the love letter to my generation.

    I want to blog it, but there’s no way for anyone not from here to get it. In any case, is there anything about Faye that you didn’t like? Or is it just a matter of her not really making that much of an impression on you?

    @ digiboy

    Thanks man, credit goes to Lbrevis here whose Cowboy Bebop-fu solidified my thoughts on Faye. The scene that has call me call me is here in this post (the video is there).

  4. gloval says:

    nostalgia, huh. that graphic novel, arnold arre’s martial law babies? do write an entry. if you want to, you could always link it to anime.

  5. ghostlightning says:

    @ gloval

    That’s the one. I actually met Arnold Arre when he was still promoting The Mythology Class and visited DLSU around ’97 I think. Dude is such a nice guy.

    What I’ll end up writing is such an indulgent and personal piece that I’m honestly embarrassed to post here. I actually want to just email him a thank you – but his website doesn’t have a feedback mechanism. If you know any way I can reach him, let me know.

  6. gaguri says:

    My favourite Faye moment had to be the episode where Faye watches video of her past self. There was no BGM playing IIRC, just the old video playing. For me, I could almost feel like Faye, watching my past youthful times once again. You see the kind of girl she used to be, the kind of woman she turned out right now, and it was so sad yet so beautiful. I would go far as to place it as one of the best moments in Cowboy Bebop.

    Also lot of kudos to the character designer.

  7. Martin says:

    Urgh, I’m still annoyed at myself for not watching the rest of the series. Two discs in, I’m still telling myself “I’ll get around to picking up the rest…” The dynamics between the characters in bebop are unbeatable but I can’t agree more that Faye is more than just a pretty face.

    I think she’s the inspiration for Black Lagoon’s Revy in many ways, but her humanity shows through a bit more which endears her to the viewer. That balance of bad-ass independence and straight-up vulnerability was pitched so well…even though she’s sharp-witted and physically attractive the complexity of her character earns your respect than many characters of her type often do.

    I can’t wait for the day I FINALLY pull my finger out and buy the rest of the series!

  8. ghostlightning says:

    @ gaguri

    You picked a great moment there. I could see it, right now. And yes there was no BGM, and what a great use of silence it was for such a musically astute show.

    @ martin

    Yeah she’s got quite a compelling blend of complexity, and you won’t be disappointed when you acquire the rest of the series. The finale is one of the best.

  9. TheBigN says:

    I think I agree with gaguri’s moment as my favorite moment, because it really drove home how important that quest of self-discovery (in a way) was for Faye. And it suddenly made me more interested in her for sure.

    That, and for the troubles that Jet and Spike had to go through in order to get the equipment to watch the video. I don’t remember too many tracks from the Cowboy Bebop soundtracks (I need to get those sooner or later, since that was great stuffs), but “The Egg and I” is one of my favorite pieces from there period. 😛

  10. picchar says:

    After all these years I still haven’t watched Cowboy Bebop. I need to find a copy of it >.>

  11. gordon says:

    same here. i haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop yet but i have heard so much about it. it must be good right?

  12. bluerob says:

    I own a site called nerd fellowship (nerdfellowship.com). I’ve been searching through wordpress.com’s blogs trying to find some of the best blogs that talk about anime / gaming / movies ect…

    I found yours and I think you blog about topics similar to that which is on Nerd Fellowship.

    I was curious if you would be interested in blogging for Nerd Fellowship. Check out the site, let me know your

    thoughts.

    You can email me at heathisrob@gmail.com

    Thanks!

  13. ZI says:

    Agreed, the ep where she watches the video is one of the greatest moment of the show. Beyond sad, haunting. The only thing similar to it for me is simoun’s ep 26.

  14. ghostlightning says:

    @ TheBigN

    “The Egg and I” and “THE EGG AND YOU” are two very interesting pieces in the ost. Honestly I couldn’t get into them at first, but listening to the osts every day from 2004 to 2006 opened up windows of appreciation for me.

    @ picchar, @ gordon

    I don’t think you’ll regret taking time to watch this show. Don’t let our collective gushing set up unrealistic expectations for it. It’s best appreciated as a show about nothing really: a little funny in places, a little sad in others; but having a cast that has excellent chemistry with each other, and really cool music.

    @ bluerob

    Uhh, sure. Thanks.

    @ ZI

    Perhaps I really underestimated the power of that scene. I had liked it, sure. But to me it served the purpose of leading her to her wrecked room, where she drew the borders on the dirt with a stick, and laid down where her bathtub used to be.

    That to me, was the more powerful scene. But hey, yours and mine is love for Faye and Cowboy Bebop so it’s all good.

  15. Funeral says:

    Another brilliant post! Good to see a post about my favorite anime as well as a great character from the show. Kudos to you and Lbrevis.

  16. ghostlightning says:

    @ Funeral

    Thanks dude. I remember how stupid I felt back then, because it took a long time for me to finally watch this show, despite my friend’s recommending it to me.

    I plan to write about Jet someday, which is quite a challenge I think.

  17. Caitlin says:

    Great post! Faye is actually my least favorite characters in CB, although I like all of them. I never liked her outfit though – chafing? I imagine it’s one of the least practical bounty costumes in that galaxy. It’s been years since I’ve watched it so I can’t think of anything new, but I’ve always thought Faye’s been the mortality character moreso than Spike. Particularly after she finds out about her past, but even prior when she’s just trying to get a lot of money for her hospital bill, she seems so intent on burning the candle at both ends.

  18. ghostlightning says:

    @ Caitlin

    You have something going there. The mortality character eh? She does seem so intent on burning the candle at both ends.

    And then, when she sees that Spike is still going to beat her on her own game, heading to avenge Julia – is where I see Faye at here most vulnerable and confused.

    She isn’t just dealing with her past and her identity: A possibility and a future is disappearing for her, fast.

    She never really thought of Spike as anyone but a nuisance, if she thought of him at all. But now she will have nothing else to do but think of him, because even in meeting death he’s just wondering if he ever truly lived.

    Faye had both of her eyes intact, but both were fixed inward and into her opaque past. What now Faye? What now?

  19. Btw. She has inspired greatness IRL. See Man-Faye on wikipedia.

  20. Pingback: Random Discussions with Funeral « Funeral’s Coffin

  21. DTA says:

    I’m sending out word that TV5 is about to air this show, starting on March 2. GMA’s a shame.

  22. Pingback: Of course Faye Valentine is Moe! « Kritik der Animationskraft

  23. Pingback: 100 Characters For 100 Otaku (Part Ten: 55-51) « Fuzakenna!

  24. Sorry, great list but U gotta say. Best Fae moment for me was from “speak like a child” you know which scene. And because you know which scene, I think it makes my pick a pretty good one, if not the right one.

    “Goooo me! Gooo me! Don’t give up, don’t give up! Don’t lose, me!”

    That is what it feels like to cry as a full-grown adult guys. Thanks, Fae.

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