A “lost episode” of Cowboy Bebop: The Song Remains The Same
It’s almost three in the morning, and I’m still awake: I just finished watching what some may call a ‘lost episode’ of Cowboy Bebop entitled The Song Remains the Same. It’s an episode adapted from the PS2 video game Cowboy Bebop: Serenade of Recollection.
Just reminiscing this series makes me sad, but in a very good way
I love Cowboy Bebop. Looking back, it’s one of the anime that have propelled me to look for better series than what was aired on television: back when I was 14 or so, I watched Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door and it impressed me alongside Gundam Wing. I loved the movie and I really loved how Vincent Volaju was constructed as a villain. I only loved the example more when I was finally able to obtain the full series: I was profoundly affected by the characters, and I especially loved the beautiful ending (in so many aspects) of the series. Even now, after a significant time spent watching and evaluating different anime series, it would probably be still within my top five. It’s just that good, at least for me.
I’m among the people who wished for more. I cried at the series’s ending simply because it was so tragic: Faye was never able to reach out to Spike because of her misgivings with herself; Spike lost what remained of what life he regarded to be life when he lost Julia. Without her, he felt that he could never be truly alive once more, which is why he propelled himself to a death wish by attacking Vicious’s headquarters.
Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, I believe, had a significant effect on how Spike decided to act in his future. To quote Hamlet, he kept on asking himself whether ‘to be, or not to be.’ Vincent Volaju was a man who believed that the real world was just a world of dreams: if I remember correctly, only one lady, Electra, ever made him feel alive. Ironically, it was a lady who was now at odds with his ideals. It was also his love for her that paved the way to his dream’s ultimate failure.
I believe the same can be said with Spike. His immense love for Julia was one of the causes why she had died: had they not met once more, her life would not be imperiled, albeit she would be separated from him. In the Cowboy Bebop universe, it is often love that brings the characters to their dreams’ damnations. When he quipped that he was going to Vicious ‘to see if I am really alive,’ he implied that he was in a dream consciousness: perhaps it is the dream consciousness that is with us when we’ve lost something or someone very important, or perhaps his only reality is that with Julia.
I think that The Song Remains the Same is another one of these central episodes that fleshes out why Spike acted like he did in the final episode of the series. Simple yet noble dreams by some of the people in this episode are crushed, whether by death or implausibility: one music producer chases for an elusive song that was an accompaniment to a classic hit; one wife attempts to protect her husband’s life despite his incorrigibility; one man aims to rid the world of criminals through extralegal means. All fail.
They fail because of their shutting out of reality: love is a curse, not a gift, in these people. Their love of their ideas prevents them from recognizing the impossibility of their goals. (There is a sad love story, between Captain H and Priscilla, even in the background.)
I think that was the reason why Spike erased the rare song ‘Pearls,’ despite its supposed market value. Maybe it just hit too close to home: he was separated from Julia despite him knowing that she also loved him immensely.
The characters are unable to escape their cycles of selfishness. Spike couldn’t love again because his life was only Julia for him; Jet couldn’t prevent Spike from going out (in the final episode) because he allowed his image to dominate over his friendship with Spike; Faye, who I believe is among the most tragic characters of the series, only discovered the presence of others when it was too late for her to recognize that she had more than fleeting emotion for one: before Spike went away to his death, she couldn’t even confess that she loved him.
The song replays, over and over: the song remains the same.
P.S. The episode does not have quality that could be found in regular episodes of Cowboy Bebop. It primarily uses the game’s engine; nonetheless, the story was still well-written, at least for me.