On these past years’ greatest rock tunes, five much awaited guests stepped on the Yuzu stage in front of a cheering crowd who was meeting the personalities behind one of the most famous anime to this day: Cowboy Bepop. Chara-designer, Toshihiro KAWAMOTO, producer Masahiko MINAMI, scenarist Keiko NOBUMOTO, director Shinichiro WATANABE, and mecha-designer Kimitoshi YAMANE made an appearance, accompanied by Shin SASAKI, SUNRISE animation studio director. Once all the elements needed to fully celebrate the 20th anniversary of the series were gathered, the meeting opened on a question session for this exceptional panel.
First, what made the success of Cowboy Bepop? According Shin SASAKI, this was due to the inherent quality of the series which brought many enthusiasts together. In Shinichiro WATANABE’s opinion, this glory was achieved thanks to the liberty the creators got to enjoy during the anime’s production. Since they didn’t feel forced to find inspiration in pre-existing works, they managed to make it completely different from other SUNRISE series.
Following these speeches, the whole room could discover the top 10 favorite Cowboy Bepop episodes, chosen by Japan Expo’s attendees (knowing that the one ranking first would be projected on screen!). This was the occasion for the guests to share some funny or touching anecdots about their creation. The crowd thus learnt that episode 7, Heavy Metal Queen, was inpired by Le Salaire de la peur, a French movie directed by Henri-George CLOUZOT in 1953, even though the Cowboy Bepop team added a lighter note to it.
Then came episode 5, Ballad of Fallen Angels, which ranked third. As many have noticed, it reveals a darker side of Spike, the hero. But did you know that this aspect wasn’t a mere coincidence but had been careful thought over? Shinichiro WATANABE then took the mic to explain that, back in the production years, he had heard that anime fans would only watch five episodes of a series before deciding on pursuing or dropping it. There was thus a need to present a catchy fifth episode in order to truly unite the audience. The director said he was ready to stop making Cowboy Bepop if this attempt didn’t work… luckily for us, this daring move had the opposite effect!
In second position: Real Folk Blues part 2, the 26th and last episode of the anime. This was a good occasion to know the perception of the guests regarding their work on the series final. Scenarist Keiko NOBUMOTO, who became emotional watching those images, couldn't hold her tears. Shinichiro WATANABE took the opportunity to bring the audience's attention on a detail. At the end of the episode, spectators could see a white bird. This bird also appeared in one of his previous works: Blade Runner. Still keeping secrets, he then invited the attendees to find the meaning of this symbol by themselves and make up theories on the subject.
Then came the moment everybody was waiting for. Which was the favorite episode of the audience? Which part of Bepop members' adventures would we see on screen? The answer is… Pierrot Le Fou (episode 20)! "Only French people could choose this episode !" replied Shinichiro WATANABE while bursting out of laughing. Though he loved it too, he admitted to be a little surprised by this result. So why did French fans vote for this episode? The question was asked to the creators, who thought this choice was due to the fact that Pierrot le Fou is fully inspired by French works, such as the eponymous movie by Jean-Luc Godard, or the visual aspect of Le Samouraï or Le Cercle rouge by Jean-Pierre Merville, but also because this was the first episode entirely realized numerically.
To end this meeting, the audience also asked questions to the panel, which allowed the creators to talk about Yôko KANO’s work, who composed the whole original soundtrack of the anime, and reached this stunning result by taking the plot and mostly the storyboard into account.
Final reveal: Shin SASAKI unveiled the Cowboy Bepop 20th Anniversary Box, which includes 17 disks, 5 blurays, 7 DVD, 3 OST, 2 DVD extra, 2 special illustrations, and an artbook, no less! And in order to completely catch the fans’ heart, a Spike figurine (available current 2019) was also presented.
The creators then stood up and gave a final salute to the audience to end this rich panel, in front of a black screen with a message adressed to the crowd…
… "See you space cowboys…" !
In partnership with Sunrise et Dybex