Monday, April 25, 2016

Manga Monday: Cowboy Bebop Vol. 1 (TokyoPop)

The Cowboy Bebop manga was released in 2002 by TokyoPop and followed the "further adventures" of the Bebop cast. The manga lasted three volumes, written by Hajime Yatate and illustrated by Yutaka Nanten.

There are four stories in the first volume and, aside from some pacing issues, does a serviceable job living up to the Cowboy Bebop name. Like the anime, the stories are episodic and mostly self-contained. Some chapters feel a bit rushed, and the cool, jazzy atmosphere of the anime is absent due to the limitations of the format.

The characters are all here and look close to their anime counterparts, aside from a few stylistic changes. Ed is mostly relegated to the background in this volume, but Spike, Faye, and Jet each have a specific chapter where they're in spotlight.

The first chapter, "It's Showtime," affords equal time to the entire cast, but "We Will Rock You" is largely Spike-centric, with him sneaking into a prison to make contact with an inmate, while "Cheap Trick" focuses on Faye, and "Black Diamond" centers on one of Jet's old contacts from his days with the police.

None of the chapters are as memorable as any episode from the series, but for those pinning for more Cowboy Bebop related stories, it's worth a read. The plots here also feel more "light," and eschew the darker moments of the show in favor of humor.

In 2003 TokyoPop released Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star, which was another "alternate" Cowboy Bebop manga, this time with artwork by Cain Kuga. Shooting Star lasted three volumes as well, but featured a rougher art style and, in my opinion, weaker stories.

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