Because of its heavy Western popular culture influences and lengthy life in reruns on Grownup Swim, Cowboy Bebop has lengthy been one among People’ most profitable gateway medication to anime. With the unique anime now streaming on Netflix upfront of its live-action adaptation premiering November nineteenth, much more new viewers can uncover “the work which becomes a new genre itself.” Nevertheless, whereas Bebop is as near a family title as adult-oriented anime get within the States, director Shinichiro Watanabe’s different works have by no means discovered the identical degree of mainstream success, regardless of that includes a lot of the identical beautiful animation, stunning music, and sharp post-modernist sensibility that made Bebop a success.
Should you’ve loved Bebop, right here’s a information that will help you discover the remainder of Watanabe’s wealthy catalog.
If you wish to see the place Watanabe began: Macross Plus
Watanabe made his directorial debut co-directing the 1994 OVA (authentic video animation) sequence Macross Plus alongside Shoji Kawamori. Macross is the mecha anime franchise that acquired partially localized as a part of Robotech, however you don’t have to have seen another Macross sequence to take pleasure in Plus’ Prime Gun-style fighter pilot rivalries and battles in opposition to an evil AI pop star, written lengthy earlier than Hatsune Miku turned a factor. Screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, composer Yoko Kanno, and animation studio Dawn would all go on to collaborate on Bebop.
Macross Plus isn’t at present obtainable for streaming and DVDs are out of print, however the 1995 Macross Plus Film Version, which edits the sequence’s 4 episodes right into a single movie, will display screen in theaters courtesy of Fathom Occasions on December 14th.
Should you liked how Bebop blended genres: Samurai Champloo
In all probability Watanabe’s second hottest anime due to its Grownup Swim broadcast on the peak of the 2000s anime increase, the 2004 sequence Samurai Champloo remixes historic dramas with hip-hop a lot the identical approach Bebop mixed house Westerns with jazz. Using an identical episodic construction and forged of touring misfits, Champloo is a barely lighter viewing expertise than Bebop; it’s a extra simple heroes’ journey that holds again on lasting tragedy. However Champloo isn’t simply model over substance: amid all of the cool fights and anachronistic humor are fascinating concepts about Japan’s relationship with the West and the way society treats marginalized teams.
Samurai Champloo is streaming on Hulu and Funimation.
In order for you extra superior jazz: Youngsters on the Slope
Eight years handed between Champloo and Watanabe’s subsequent TV sequence, 2012’s Youngsters on the Slope. Based mostly on the manga by Yuki Kodama, Youngsters on the Slope was a significant change of tempo for Watanabe, abandoning motion and style conceits in favor of a practical drama about youngsters within the Nineteen Sixties taking part in jazz music collectively. The decrease key storyline explains why Youngsters on the Slope largely acquired missed, however it is a real gem of a present that makes superb use of its director’s musical ardour.
Youngsters on the Slope is streaming on Crunchyroll and Hidive.
Should you wished Bebop’s comedy episodes went even additional: House Dandy
When House Dandy premiered on Grownup Swim in 2014 (a uncommon event through which a Japanese anime premiered in America earlier than Japan), followers have been hoping this new Watanabe-directed sci-fi sequence can be the following Bebop. What they acquired was much less Bebop and extra Douglas Adams crossed with an animation movie competition. Watanabe was the chief director of Dandy, however the sequence is greatest understood as an anthology through which completely different administrators every acquired to do their very own distinctive tales about three bumbling, attractive alien hunters. Characters may die in a single episode and be nice within the subsequent, all linked through a multiverse metanarrative as formidable as something tried by Marvel or Rick and Morty. Dandy isn’t Bebop, however if you happen to preferred the latter’s humorousness, there’s rather a lot to like about Dandy.
House Dandy is streaming on Hulu, Funimation, and Tubi.
Should you’re taken with an formidable political assertion: Terror in Resonance
If House Dandy was the place Watanabe directed his experimental and comedic instincts in 2014, Terror in Resonance was the place he was aiming his extra severe sensibilities and makes an attempt at social commentary. A narrative about younger savants making an attempt to take down the Japanese authorities by way of acts of terrorism, Terror in Resonance is both Watanabe’s most muted success or his most formidable failure. He and his writers clearly had rather a lot to say with this anime, and the animation and music are unbelievable, however there’s possibly a couple of too many ridiculous twists to take the story significantly.
Terror in Resonance is streaming on Hulu and Funimation.
If you wish to return to the Bebop-verse… and want all of the feels: Carole & Tuesday
2019’s Carole & Tuesday takes place within the Martian metropolis of Alba Metropolis, the identical setting as Cowboy Bebop: The Film. Although the timeline particulars aren’t precisely clear (Carole & Tuesday theoretically takes place only some years after Bebop however has very completely different expertise), Watanabe has stated the 2 exhibits share a universe (Dandy occurs to exist as a cartoon inside this universe). That may be sufficient to make Bebop lovers , however Carole & Tuesday is a singular expertise all its personal that may very nicely be Watanabe’s most emotional serialized narrative. The story of an orphaned refugee and the uncared for daughter of a xenophobic politician teaming as much as pursue pop stardom is by turns healthful, hilarious, heavy, and heartwarming. The soundtrack options a variety of kinds and contains such artists as Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and Denzel Curry.
Carole & Tuesday is streaming on Netflix.
Further credit score: shorts, storyboards, and music
Watanabe’s resume of quick movies leans closely on his Western reputation, working with Hollywood franchises and main music artists. For The Animatrix (streaming on HBO Max), he directed the rotoscoped Matrix awakening “Kid’s Story” and the neo-noir “A Detective Story.” His 2017 quick movie Blade Runner Black Out 2022 (on YouTube) fills within the gaps between the unique Blade Runner and Blade Runner 2049 (Watanabe is credited as a artistic producer on the brand new Blade Runner: Black Lotus sequence on Grownup Swim and Crunchyroll). Watanabe additionally directed the music video for “More” by Flying Lotus that includes Anderson .Paak. Essentially the most obscure of Watanabe’s shorts, “Baby Blue” from the 2008 Genius Get together anthology movie (on Hoopla, Tubi, and Kanopy), is an enthralling highschool romance story that in some ways performs as a check run for Youngsters on the Slope.
Past directing, Watanabe has performed different jobs right here and there all through the anime business. He’s storyboarded episodes of The Imaginative and prescient of Escaflowne, Ergo Proxy, and Birdy the Mighty Decode, however his commonest position tends to be serving to on the musical facet of issues. He was the musical producer on Masaaki Yuasa’s movie Thoughts Recreation and on Sayo Yamamoto’s first two TV anime, Michiko & Hatchin and Lupin the Third: The Lady Known as Fujiko Mine, and directed the ending theme animation for Loss of life Parade. This 12 months, he suggested on the soundtrack for Sonny Boy, a surreal tackle Lord of the Flies from fellow House Dandy director Shingo Natsume.