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Shinichirō Watanabe: “Genre Mixing” At Its Best

1688 words - 7 pages

Cowboy Bebop is a title which many anime fans are familiar with. Arguably, it is one of the best anime series ever made, but nonetheless can be recognized as a great piece of art created by the show’s director; Shinichirō Watanabe. Truth is, this is not Watanabe’s only spectacle. Although it first aired in 2004 (about five years after Cowboy Bebop last aired), Samurai Champloo can also be recognized as another one of Watanabe’s “masterpieces”. Even though he uses the same style as a basis to craft both Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop, each show brings a completely different experience. What makes them unique from other anime is an element that can be known as “genre mixing”. How Watanabe mixes genres between Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop will be analyzed and compared to get a better understanding of what it is.
The first piece that will be looked at is Cowboy Bebop. One large part of Watanabe’s style consists of “genre mixing” and Cowboy Bebop’s most notable example of “genre mixing” comes from interesting enough, the show’s western influences. One western genre that can be seen clearly in the title is that of the cowboy western genre or more so, spaghetti western. For those that do not know what the spaghetti western genre is, a prime example would be a classic film like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood. In the fifth episode specifically (Ballad of Fallen Angels), Spike (the main protagonist) walks into a church to meet and rescue fellow bounty hunter, Faye. Spike and the audience knows by this point that a group of henchmen led by the main antagonist, Vicious are the ones holding her hostage and that this meeting is only to ambush Spike. After he walks in and has a short chat with Vicious, a henchman appears from the shadows holding Faye at gun point. The henchman then orders Spike to put down his weapon. All this time the song Rain, by Steve Conte plays in the background up until Spike pulls the trigger. This kills the man holding Faye hostage, allowing her to escape. A shootout then ensues with nothing but the sound of guns going off as a replacement for the music. Slowly the scene becomes more and more intense as we keep getting surprised to what Spike endures to survive right until the moment where both Vicious and Spike face off. The spaghetti western genre can be seen through how the fights feel, never giving the viewer a chance to even be able to guess what will happen next before and after that first shot or move is made.
The show is also a brilliant comedy. Though the show wouldn’t necessarily be placed under comedy for its genre, the clever use of it gives the audiences a form of relief that makes sure the show does not fall into taking itself too seriously. After the shootout is over and Spike wakes up on a couch completely covered in bandages, he listens to Faye hum a smooth tune. He then signals her to come close to be able to whisper to her, “You sing off key”. After having that ruthless shootout...

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