Shinichirō Watanabe: 'Genre Mixing' at Its Best

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Cowboy Bebop is a title which many anime fans are familiar with. Arguably, it is one of the best anime series ever made, but nonetheless can be recognized as a great piece of art created by the show’s director; Shinichirō Watanabe. Truth is, this is not Watanabe’s only spectacle. Although it first aired in 2004 (about five years after Cowboy Bebop last aired), Samurai Champloo can also be recognized as another one of Watanabe’s “masterpieces”. Even though he uses the same style as a basis to craft both Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop, each show brings a completely different experience. What makes them unique from other anime is an element that can be known as “genre mixing”. How Watanabe mixes genres between Samurai Champloo and Cowboy Bebop will be analyzed and compared to get a better understanding of what it is. The first piece that will be looked at is Cowboy Bebop. One large part of Watanabe’s style consists of “genre mixing” and Cowboy Bebop’s most notable example of “genre mixing” comes from interesting enough, the show’s western influences. One western genre that can be seen clearly in the title is that of the cowboy western genre or more so, spaghetti western. For those that do not know what the spaghetti western genre is, a prime example would be a classic film like The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, starring Clint Eastwood. In the fifth episode specifically (Ballad of Fallen Angels), Spike (the main protagonist) walks into a church to meet and rescue fellow bounty hunter, Faye. Spike and the audience knows by this point that a group of henchmen led by the main antagonist, Vicious are the ones holding her hostage and that this meeting is only to ambush Spike. After he walks in and has a short chat with Vicious, a henchman... ... middle of paper ... ...hop off one of Fuu’s (the only main female protagonist) fingers. Then, the first situation ends with Jin (the third and final main protagonist) killing off the supposed “badass” samurai bodyguards of a nobleman in style to then take the money of the man he had just saved. The other situation picks up with Mugen making an incorrect mathematical remark stating that each of the thugs’ lives are worth five dumplings each out of 100 that were offered by Fuu to have her life saved when there’s only about eight of them, which ends by Fuu being saved. The show takes death very lightly for the most part except when the main characters are going to die. Though Samurai Champloo has less genre mixes within the show, the genres in it are more elaborated on and fleshed out for what they offer. There is also other genres not mentioned but again, these are some of the most notable.

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