Sunday, November 22, 2009

Cowboy Bebop Session #17: Mushroom Samba

It's ironic I should be writing about an episode with mushrooms. I made this killer Wild Mushroom Soup last weekend from scratch. It's an interesting process, broth included. Do you like 'shrooms? Let me rephrase that. Do you like 'shrooms you can eat for sustenance? I do. I love them. I never much cared for them on pizza. Still, I love fresh Shitake and Portobello mushrooms cooked inside a cream and broth soup with leeks, butter and more. It was a dandy soup I tell you.

If you're a fan of Cowboy Bebop and you've been following along you'll note I haven't been overly wild about the series. My expectations were through the roof based upon everything I had read or heard about the anime series. Quite frankly it just isn't delivering on the whole for me. I wish I could tell you I loved this sci-fi tainted adventure series surrounding its five central characters of Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed and Ein, but alas I cannot. I grade each entry for what it is, but a love affair with the show has not been cultivated for me for sure. I know I'm in the minority on this.

Here we are continuing my fungal enjoyment of Cowboy Bebop, Session #17, Mushroom Samba. Our story begins once again over food rationing and some emergency rations that have been eaten. Nobody takes responsibility for the missing food. "Bell peppers and beef" are always on Spike's mind.

A ship crashes into the BeBop and essentially initiates a "hit and run" leaving the BeBop off course. Western World Development Tract 8271. The BeBop crashes at the aforementioned site. I must tell you. I'm a huge fan of crash landing stories generally speaking. If a group of my fearless heroes crash lands on a remote planet, a hostile planet, a planet full of monsters, the more the better. I love when the odds are stacked against them. No matter how horrible a crash landing tale or film I can generally still derive something from it it. I loved Lost In Space, because the story was survival after crashing week after week. The ship crashed and the family had to cope. Pitch Black [2000] had a brilliant crash landing sequence by Director David Twohy even if the film never fully executed for me. Red Planet [2001]had a weird crash section too, but I loved it. Flight Of The Phoenix [2005] same thing. I suppose there are too many to mention, but some of those crashes are excellent and lead to some gripping dramatic situations.

Spike and Jet send Ed off to find some food in the arid desert-like conditions. I was totally digging the grooves of the music in this one. A flying vessel passes over the heads of Ed and Ein. Ed comes across a watermelon stand and they're just licking their chops. A hot, black woman [who looks like she's out of the 1970s TV series Mod Squad] pulls up in a vehicle looking for a man in a photo. She hands the man 1,000 dollars, buys a watermelon [I think that may qualify as stereotyping today, but much of it is obviously intentional] and then rides off in her car. Some of the images and animation shots are quite delicious in this one. I really enjoyed the colors and look of the episode.

As the woman rides off in her car leaving a trail of dust we find Ed and Ein have become stowaways. Police pull the woman [commonly referred to as racial profiling] over and check her trunk in a nearby town only to arrest her for having Ed and Ein inside her trunk [clearly not race-related]. Ed and Ein sneak away. It becomes clear to me there is a bit of a nod to the 70s in this episode with some of the characters and the whole period look of the blaxploitation pictures as they were often referred to back in the day. There's even mention of Shaft. A man with an afro assaults another man named Domino carrying mushrooms. Ed and Ein decide to eat up some of the dropped 'shrooms from his bag as he runs away. After eating the 'shrooms all is not right with their world as Ein begins hopping around the road rather oddly.

Ed and Ein return to camp. How they got back to the ship I'll never know. They leave a mushroom out to test on each one of their travelling companions as Faye, Jet and Spike each come along one by one. Followed with a simple hiccup and everything begins to get slower and stranger for the entire crew. Jet talks with his little bonsai trees. Spike converses with a frog. Faye stares into the toilet bowl seemingly drowning in its water. Ed and Ein just watch. Spike cannot seem to get up those stairs. Faye swims with fish [at least it wasn't excrement] as she makes strokes in place.

Meanwhile Ed spots the latest bounty broadcast and sees an image of Domino the man they saw in town earlier. They grab a motorized scooter [I suppose Ed stole it and if not I still don't know how Ed & Ein got back to the BeBop] and hustle off passing all of their crewmates who are seriously drugged up.

Ed and Ein spot the hit and run ship and surprise Domino. They chase him toward the other man. Domino jumps on a train and the man chases him in the stolen watermelon truck. The music is outtasight groovy, but it's all weird on Cowboy Bebop. The afro woman arrives and fires off a rocket launcher to get rid of the other guy in pursuit of Domino. It would appear these are all bounty hunters. Ein takes down the bad guy. The other two pursuers and the car explode.

I actually found this sequence to be pretty funny. Both the Ed and Ein portion made me laugh.

Who knew animals could talk between species. Ha!
In the end Ed winds up with a bag of Shitake mushrooms. Dinner is served in the form of Shitake stir fry, Shitake stew, Shitake salad and Shitake on ice. They should try some wild Shitake soup. Everyone is bitching and moaning about eating mushrooms, but Ein and Ed aren't bothered and happily gorge themselves on them. And I thought kids were the ones who complained about stuff like that. More zany antics, but a good entry and surprisingly one with a lot of Ed that I actually liked.
Mushroom Samba: B+ [I told you I liked crash landing episodes]

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