Bohemians… IN SPACE (suck) Cowboy Bebop 14 “Bohemian Rhapsody”

Chessmaster Hex vs. Radical Edward played their epic match on a site based on good ol' Sam's Net Chess

[Episodes 12 & 13 “Jupiter Jazz” Parts I & II]

The key question that I haven’t resolved for myself regarding this episode is Jet Black’s decision not to make money off the bounty. His reasoning that “Ed will lose his playmate” doesn’t ring true to me. Unless, his actions actually come from his own fear and loneliness: that he’s so alone that he’d do anything to keep the Bebop crew together, including perpetuated mutual poverty.

Now that I’ve written that out, I think it’s a splendid explanation for his actions. Look at how he went after Spike and Faye in Jupiter Jazz! He can talk tough about not needing anyone but Jet is super lonely and would like to have everyone around. He’s just not into talking about his feelings, nor into hugs.

Having resolved that (it took me 2 weeks to begin writing about this episode; I couldn’t get over how it ended), I want to focus on how Cowboy Bebop continues to shit on things human beings romanticized in the 20th century: Bohemians.


Bohemianism
is this feeling, or spirit, that manifests itself as ideals that get people to reject societal norms in the pursuit of freedom that results in art of some form. There are several kinds, having perused the wikipedia article on it, here are some:

The Bombshell Manual of Style author, Laren Stover, breaks down the Bohemian into five distinct mind-sets/styles in Bohemian Manifesto: a Field Guide to Living on the Edge. The Bohemian is “not easily classified like species of birds,” writes Stover, noting that there are crossovers and hybrids. The five types devised by Stover are:

  • Nouveau: bohemians with money who attempt to join traditional bohemianism with contemporary culture
  • Gypsy: drifters, neo-hippies, and others with nostalgia for previous, romanticized eras
  • Beat: also drifters, but non-materialist and art-focused
  • Zen: “post-beat,” focus on spirituality rather than art
  • Dandy: no money, but try to appear as if they have it by buying and displaying expensive or rare items – such as brands of alcohol

In this session, however, there is no art. There is only survival, indolence, and substance dependence. This is wholly consistent with how Cowboy Bebop takes the ideals and artifacts of the 20th century, puts them in space, and shreds them of the “shiny” kind of romanticism and puts the stench of decay on them.

cowboy_bebop_remastered_14[h264.ac3][niizk].mkv_snapshot_15.08_[2011.10.02_16.07.15]cowboy_bebop_remastered_14[h264.ac3][niizk].mkv_snapshot_17.36_[2011.10.02_16.09.59]cowboy_bebop_remastered_14[h264.ac3][niizk].mkv_snapshot_17.40_[2011.10.02_16.10.11]cowboy_bebop_remastered_14[h264.ac3][niizk].mkv_snapshot_17.55_[2011.10.02_16.10.30]

The Bohemian colony where Chessmaster Hex lives out his senile, dying days is no haven. Who really believes that Jonathan is better off losing all his money and living out his own days there? Is he “liberated” from consumerism and the shackles of economics? But hey, who’ll argue that Chessmaster Hex himself isn’t happy. After all, he still pwnd Ed in their epic match.

If there’s any idealism in the episode, it’s Jet’s “sacrifice.” I couldn’t get over it. He gave up the bounty, the upper hand over the authorities, everything. But it fits the explanation I reached earlier. Jet is lonely as fuck. I bet he didn’t even tell the others that he could’ve gotten a lot of money out of this. He’s that much of an asshole. This piece of profound failure and inauthenticity, I must admit, is one of the most interesting discoveries I’ve enjoyed having rewatched these episodes. Cowboy Bebop just keeps getting better.

cowboy_bebop_remastered_14[h264.ac3][niizk].mkv_snapshot_21.14_[2011.10.02_16.11.41]

Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me
for me
for me
So you think you can stone me and spit in my eye
So you think you can love me and leave me to die
Oh baby – can’t do this to me baby
Just gotta get out – just gotta get right outta here

Anyway the wind blows

Oh Jet, you’re gonna carry that weight.

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.
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20 Responses to Bohemians… IN SPACE (suck) Cowboy Bebop 14 “Bohemian Rhapsody”

  1. Shinmarizu says:

    Your point about Jet does make a lot of sense in retrospect (considering I have watched the entire series and this facet of Jet’s personality does manifest itself in later episodes). I found it hard to believe that Jet would do such a thing considering everything he would have stood to gain, and the excuse that it was all just for Ed didn’t really satisfy me; but I was too happy seeing Ed and Hex enjoying themselves. Also the look on Hex’s face when he won arguably his last match.

    I suppose I simply rode that “wave of happy” without realizing that Jet was a sad, lonely man much earlier than I expected.

    On the side, when do you think would have been an appropriate point in the series to just play parts of Bohemian Rhapsody? The melancholic notes are there and easy to insert, but I see no place to throw in the guitar solo…

    • Yeah, wave of happy is a great way to put it. It’s so easy to get disarmed by all the things going on in these episodes. I find myself taking weeks to finish writing what really are rather short posts, because there’s so many things that pull at me when thinking about what I just watched. Don’t worry I’ve written up to episode 19 and I’m close to the finish line. I just don’t publish a post until I finish writing one as a buffer.

      I’ve read some interesting takes on Jet, that if I take all of them into account… leads to him having loneliness as a defining trait. It’s very easy to end up AND feel alone when you’re always within yourself, manicuring your appearance for others. It’s funny how these guys would seem like the types who don’t give a fuck what others think. Truthfully though, they’re vain and narcissistic in how they try to control whatever impression they manifest to others. They’re acting as their own publicist and agent, to probably the tiniest public in the solar system.

      • Shinmarizu says:

        It’s almost a tragedy in itself how these characters play off each other as aloof or cool or whatever, when they’re quite elegant and eccentric piles of misery. And we get to watch.

        • Man, I don’t expect younger, or first-time viewers to appreciate this show this way… but it’s quite possible and very rewarding. The failure in these characters and the utter prison they’ve built for themselves juxtaposed with the expanse of Space… the world in Cowboy Bebop we see seems far smaller than the one we live in… and far, far more bleak.

          This show.

  2. Xard says:

    Wow. I have absolutely no recollection of this episode. What the hell

    unless this is the chess episode

  3. Digibro says:

    I had just thought of this as a realistic portrayal of what bohemians were always like… bunch hippies in parks and deserts only as jubilant as they are high… to be mean about it.

  4. Zetatrain says:

    That’s actually a very good explanation on Jet’s decision and admit that after watching the series twice that moment was always bit puzzling to me. It also never accrued to me that the episode was making fun of Bohemianism despite the title’s name.

  5. MarigoldRan says:

    If he wanted to do a good deed for Hex, he should have asked for half of the bounty they promised AND for them to leave him alone.

  6. Reed says:

    Bohemians are just slackers with publicists.

    I’m glad they didn’t include the song, actually. I think that would have crossed the line of subtlety that Cowboy Bebop walks. (This is, of course, ignoring the copyright issues.)

  7. Pingback: Cowboy Bebop 15 “My Funny Valentine”– Faye as Ranka, & the Pointlessness of Love & Bounties | We Remember Love

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