Sunday, April 14, 2013

Nerdy Ravings: Nerdy Endevors

Recently, a good friend and my boyfriend took it upon themselves to make sure I watched Firefly. In the same moment, Isaac and I took it upon ourselves to make Becca (the aforementioned good friend) watch Cowboy Bebop.

Nearly every weekend these past few weeks we get together, have dinner (and often a drink or two) and sit down to watch our shows.

In many ways, these shows are similar: people out in space in spaceships with a subtle cowboy theme (less subtle in Cowboy Bebop, I guess). Not that Mal and his crew are cowboys, just that there is a sort of western feel to the whole series. And when they were shipping cows, right? Like cowboys? And some of the planets and cultures they encounter are totally throw-backs to the old west. True story.
Image from Need I say more about the old west feel?
One decidedly noticeable difference is how the Firefly crew is (mostly) very rooted in the present. There is a little back story with the war, and a few others in order to explain how the initial crew got together, but that's about it. In Cowboy Bebop, the stuff going on in the present is just a way to reflect on the tormented pasts of the crew members. Our focus here isn't so much what will happen in the future, but what happened in the past to get them where they are now and to determine their actions in the present.

But they tend to be similar. Both crews are out doing nearly anything they can get away with for money. Both crews apparently make enough money to live, but you can never really figure out how because their deals go south in almost every episode. Go back and watch them if you don't believe me!
Image from
Both also have a strong center around Asia. In Firefly, everyone can speak Chinese. At least well enough to curse in it. Which gives a strong implication that China and its people were (or still are?) very influential. In Cowboy Bebop, we encounter this, too. Of course, it is a Japanese anime, so we have to delve deeper. While Japanese, they tried to make it rather western-themed (with the Red Dragon gang as a sort of terrorist force? Someone needs to have a nerdy ravings about that connection), but the only currency you hear of are the Woolongs. Very Asian or rather, Japanese. Again, it implies the past or current importance of at least Japanese culture into the futures. Everyone is in space, strewn across many planets and the main form of currency is so very Japanese!

One thing that Firefly has that Cowboy Bebop doesn't is a fear factor. The Reavers scare the crap out of me. As they should. But early on when Becca and Isaac would tell me little things about what would happen with Reaver encounters almost made me want to stop watching. Scary shit. And when we finally got to the Reaver encounters, it was no less freaky!

Don't get me wrong, Cowboy Bebop has some freaky moments, but since it is a cartoon show that alternates between deep, funny, interesting, and silly, the effect isn't the same. We encounter some creepy characters who give us shivers (the French carnival guy comes to the fore-front of my mind) but they aren't scary, per se.

We haven't quite reached the end of either series together. I may post more if the inspiration strikes.

Anyone else have some nerdy facts and observations to add?

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