by James Alsup III
Cowboy Bebop is about the exploits of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Fay Valentine, and Ein, their dog. All are bounty hunters cruise the galaxy in their ship, the Bebop.
Volume 4 features 2 episodes: Heavy Metal Queen and Waltz for Venus. In Heavy Metal Queen, Spike meets a trucker named VT. VT has an intense hatred for Bounty hunters. Later in the episode, we find out that VT's late husband was a bounty hunter. Eventually, Spike, VT, and the crew of the Bebop must work together to escape a truck loaded with explosives.
The second episode is Waltz for Venus. Waltz for Venus is a bit of a departure for the series in that this episode is very serious. The crew of the Bebop goes to Venus in search of a bounty. Spike meets Roco, a young criminal who wants to learn some martial arts moves. Spike teaches Roco a few things, then later finds out that he is part of a gang that has stolen a rare flower. The Bebop crew eventually discover that Roco stole the plant to help his sister, who has a rare illness. Spike helps Roco keep the plant, but Roco pays a terrible price.
Cowboy Bebop is oozing with atmosphere. The ship design, the architecture of the planets, and the music whisk you away to the world that Spike and the gang live in. The planets have that "lived-in" look. The cities look like people live in them, not like some artist drew a squeaky-clean utopia. The ships vary in outward appearance. Some ships are squeaky clean. Others, like the Bebop, are a little grungy. The music by Yoko Kanno blends it all together with its eclectic mix of jazz styles. The voice actors are top-notch, too. Spike, Faye, Jet, and their Rogues Gallery all sound the way I would imagine the characters sounding.
My only complaint with this volume is Heavy Metal Queen. It seems as if the series writers took an episode off, which was disappointing because Volume 3 ended on such a high note. However, Waltz for Venus quickly restored my faith. It was a well crafted story. The story depends on viewers sympathizing with Roco. The writers did a good job of developing him within the running time of the episode. While the ending was predictable, it was still enjoyable.