Cowboy Bebop - More Than Just Jazz
There is a parable, or short story, within Cowboy Bebop that I've neglected to rationalize for the longest time; the reason being not that I was afraid of what it would teach me, but rather that I wasn't sure of how to approach it. It's a story of happiness, sorrow and of self-confidence; not exactly qualities of humanity that I am an expert on. Yet, this is a story with so much meaning; it would astound me if one were to find its themes irrelevant.
The allegory I am referring to is that of "The Tiger-Striped Cat." The story is about a tiger-striped cat that had died a million deaths and was consequently reborn a million times. After living with many owners that he did not care for, the tiger-striped cat eventually became a stray cat, a free cat. He meets a white female cat and the two of them as a result spend many of their days together merrily. The white cat dies of old age as time goes by, so the tiger-striped cat cried a million times, and then died. It was not reborn again...
It's a story whose general premise is simple; a being that lives a life filled with unemotional pleasures never really lives until it finds some sort of personalized truth to hold on to. So, unless we approach the adverse and seek to understand the atypical, we may risk living in ignorance forever. Boiling down to what it takes to become a true individual, this nameless cat found another cat to spend his time with; of course, it is only after he is a stray cat, a free cat that he is able to find such a soul mate.
I think that the turning point of this story is where the tiger-striped cat becomes free. It is a shame to think that this cat lived over a million lives and was never free. Perhaps this cat didn't see himself as being cared for, but rather as being held captive, like a slave. After being under custody for such a long time, it wouldn't surprise me if the anguish it felt was no longer purely physical, but more psychological, as it must have tried to rationalized thousands upon thousands of times how and why he was the way he was. This poor cat's inability to go out and "see the world" paralleled its inability to live a life with genuine emotion.
Cowboy Bebop is one of many anime series and movies filled with an assortment of emotional roller coasters. Its characters have unforgiving pasts as well as eerily probable futures. When one has emotional attachments to their past and emotional uncertainties about the future, it kind of ruins the present. There's this invisible wall of sentimentality that each character has to deal with at one point or another, a seemingly inevitable course of mentality with a barricade constructed always at the most critical of moments. And when you watch the anime, you can tell that after appealing to his or her various feelings, that after all of the suffering, there was freedom.
Within the parable, the tiger-striped cat had to live several lives with those he must have considered unworthy of his presence. I'm not saying that he had the status of a god or anything; more precisely, because of his continual renewal of existence he had developed a conscience, a mode of self-awareness. This may sound like a lot in reference to a cat, but if any human had died only to live again as if their being meant nothing, I'm sure that he or she would ultimately arrive at the concept that self worth is up to the self. If one were to honestly step out of himself and look back inside, the value they would determine would be different than what anybody else in society would come up with. What I mean is that if an individual wishes to seek the significance or value of himself, it would be best to look for that answer within himself, not at the many insincere relationships that he has been through.
In Cowboy Bebop, there is a reason why Jet doesn't talk about his days as a cop, just as there is a reason why Spike doesn't talk about his days as a syndicate thug. The two of them both still have sensitive ties to their pasts, and are still trying to find answers to questions asked years upon years ago. I mentioned earlier that the tiger-striped cat had, at times, possibly felt like a prisoner within the clutches of his many masters. The same theory applies here, however the situation has changed ever so slightly; now, there isn't physical captivity but as a substitute, a type of psychological confinement.
For example, one of the key problems Jet faces is simply the acknowledgement of, or the acceptance of, his own emotional wounds. He knows that there were mistakes made in the past, and he knows that there were poor decisions made that he could have easily brought an end to. Yet, as we all know it is most difficult to deal with a problem that one denies the existence of.
Nevertheless, Jet's personal belief that he will know the facts when the truth comes to him presents problems. The story of "Tiger-Striped Cat" expressed in episode 26 of the series is appealing in association with Jet Black because both he and the cat are/were waiting for that one moment where Fate gives you two options (and through logic you will supposedly choose the correct one). I do not believe that anyone else should be consulted in order for a person to make such a decision, because in doing so, one would only decrease the influence they have on their own life. Wouldn't that be a shame? Living your life solely for carrying out the actions of another person's decisions?
A person trapped in this limbo of decision-making may not always appear as one on the verge of insanity. A person stuck in an indeterminate emotional mindset may not always seem like one forever making foolish mistakes. But instead, because there is such importance in independency, don't be surprised if an individual suppresses his or her emotions until that crossroad of Fate happens by. Sometimes we as people want so much to make the 'future choice' or the decision for ourselves that we end up blinding ourselves, as well as one another, of the path directly ahead of us.
Cowboy Bebop is an anime that offers a type of thinking that is so much like our own here in the real world that we hardly ever notice its patterns. The intangibles of this series include an incomparable need for affection and a soulful hunt for truth.
The fact that I myself hate to admit when I am wrong cannot evidently be seen in a mirror, so much as it can be seen in an animated television show; unless that is, I understand why it is that I may be wrong. More relevant to the story of the cat, unless I (or anyone else for that matter) am free from a superficial pattern of thinking, I won't be able to venture on to other means of comprehension. If I do not acknowledge that I am an indecisive person, how is it that I can understand the duality of the human ethics? When a person frees their heart of such troubling misunderstandings, it becomes so much easier to live their life, and it becomes so much easier to see the path directly in front of them, as opposed to only looking far ahead.