According to the opening words of Jet Black, this is set to be a "peculiar" story. I have to ask, what else is new? Jet received an e-mail from an old acquaintance. Jet is to find his old friend where the four gods meet. Okaaay, so here we go with Cowboy Bebop, Session #21, Boogie Woogie Feng Shui.
The message was from Pao Puzi, a feng shui master on Mars. What is feng shui? I had to look it up myself. It's an ancient Chinese system or philosophy that utilizes the laws of both heaven and earth to improve one's life through a positive flow of energy. Jet goes to the location as directed but finds a graveyard and Pao's tombstone. Jet finds a girl at the site while dodging a hail of bullet fire from men in suits and dark sunglasses. Here come the men in black. She knows a way out and Jet follows. The two jump a bus and then jump into the drink to evade the gunmen. She may have a way out, but certainly no easy way out. The girl is brought back to the BeBop.
On board the BeBop Faye and company look on thinking Jet has got himself a little girlfriend. Yeah, they'd call that child molestation. May-December is one thing, but Jet's a wee bit too old for her. Granted we never really know her age and she might be old enough. As it turns out the girl is Pao's daughter, Meifa. The behavior of the crew toward Jet and the girl is pretty amusing. Ed even comes right out and asks the girl if Jet has a thing for her. The crew leaves them alone seeing Jet become visibly angry.
Jet joins the Bohemian-like Meifa in search of feng shui, I guess. So why did Jet get this message? Who are the men in black with pistoles? While lickin' up some ice cream Meifa covers the three qi. First, there is the qi of heaven, the energy from the sun. Second, there is the qi of earth, the power of the planet. Third, is the magnetic qi from living organisms like all of us. This is the science of feng shui and how these universal energies interact creating every day life. As Meifa talks with Jet, she implies Jet is like her father. Now, that's more like it. Jet takes offense and says he's more like a "boyfriend," errr, a "big brother." Oops! Jet, you wish buddy.
Atop a building, Meifa points out the four points that are the four gods. Blue Dragon. White Tiger. Snake and Tortoise. Red Phoenix. This is the zenith cross that comprises the four gods. She has been searching for this location with her dial. The men in black are still looking for Meifa. She finds the sun stone. The men in black are close.
Jet and Meifa dip into a restaurant for a drink and the men go inside and are quickly greeted by a couple of meat fisted ham sandwiches compliments of Jet. They are questioned. Jet discovers they are "Syndicate scumbags." Meifa discovers from the questioning that her father may still be alive as the men were pursing Pao but lost him.
Jet narrates. Each time a question was answered a new question would arise "darker and more unsettling." I'm not finding this one dark or unsettling. I don't think so, but alright. All of it is a mystery so far. Back on the BeBop everyone attempts to contemplate the value of the sun stone. Suddenly, miraculously, Meifa realizes what the sun stone is for, to help find her father who also has a sun stone. It's a ray of hope. But why did Pao reach out to Jet? Perhaps he was the vehicle for Meifa to find him.
Faye and Spike spend alot of time smoking. Spike and Faye would appear to have a real smoking problem in this particular episode. I know the ciggy is a trademark to the Spike character though. It's part of who he is. The creators love having them smoke. In a funny turn, Jet makes the rec room a non-smoking section while Meifa is around. Even he thinks the smoking is too much and he's a smoker.
Meifa is all sorts of confused. She just can't reckon why her father didn't reach out to her. She also can't understand why the men were after him. She's looking to Jet for answers. Jet admits Pao acted as a consultant to the Syndicate. He leaked insider information. Jet received information back when he was a detective for I.S.S.P.. Pao was looking for a way out. The Syndicate owned him just like the mob owns its people. Jet hopes the sun stone leads them to Pao.
They head through one of the jumpgates. The Syndicate is in hot pursuit. Jet tells the crew to man battlestations. Spike and Faye launch in their respective vessels. Robot ships are in hot pursuit. The battle is raging in the wormhole. Ed deposits the sun stone down the toilet. It's jettisoned and Spike blasts it with Swordfish. Peculiar? It's just plain crazy this stuff. Some kind of vortex opens destroying the robot ships, but protects the BeBop. Fend shui maybe? No doubt. A ship appears from the vortex inside a wormhole surrounded by electrical currents. What do ya think? Pao? Yah! Exactly.
Pao reckons he brought them to him. Jet feels Meifa wanted to find Pao. Meifa expresses her feelings to her father. This will be the last time she sees him. She tells him how much she hated him all those years. It's actually pretty moving. She tells him she doesn't hate him anymore. And folks that's that! Where exactly did Pao go? Well, one step forward, two steps back with Cowboy Bebop. Things seemed promising after Session #20, but Session #21 is a bit of a yawn. Jet says it best, "I don't know if it was a good thing or a bad thing." Amen brother man.
Meifa returns to Mars. Jet reflects on life after Meifa, "Our no-smoking area became a smoking zone again." That was the biggest laugh of the installment. So, that's Cowboy Bebop. There are interesting moments, but on the whole, for entries that run roughly 22 minutes long, more often than not, they fail to inspire as engaging short stories. I like the kibbles and bits generally, but never the whole enchilada.
Boogie Woogie Feng Shui: C-