Telespection: My Faye Valentine - Cowboy Bebop

Welcome back to another Telespection episode? Article? Whatever it is, I’m back for another show that I hold near and dear to my heart.

Cowboy Bebop is possibly one of the best animes I have ever seen, which I know doesn’t mean much coming from someone who considers Sonic X an anime but still!

Something about the series is truly timeless and it always fills me with a sense of wonder and excitement.

Originally airing in Japan in April 1998, Cowboy Bebop saw bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, and Jet Black traverse the stars with unwanted friends Faye Valentine, Edward and Ein the adorable corgi.

In September 2001 the show was revamped with an English dub which has since been considered one of the best dubs in anime history. Famed voice actor Steve Blum took on the lead role of Spike, the show was brought back to life and continues to be brought up in many conversations to this day.

Today’s post will focus on one episode from the 26-episode run of the show: My Funny Valentine.

So, I think it’s about time we blow this scene and get everybody’s stuff together; 3, 2, 1, let’s jam!

We start the episode with just the best theme you could ever hear in your entire life, and if you haven’t heard it then what’s wrong with you.

Hey, Tank was so good they continued to use it in the Netflix live adaptation!

Ok, so right off the bat we get shown a bunch of presumably scientists and doctors in what I will guess are hazmat suits circling a pod. We’re given close ups of this pod in which a woman is floating inside it, unconscious to the world. She’s lowered towards the ground and is essentially plugged into the floor where more of these pods have been placed.

Then we cut to black and smoothly transition onto the Bebop, home of the space cowboys. I love how in the short time the episode has been on there’s been no dialogue only sounds and music. We aren’t told who this woman is or what entirely is going on, it’s left a mystery that we must figure out throughout the duration of the episode.

I quickly want to touch on the blink and you’ll miss it relationship between Edward and Jet, though you don’t regularly see the two hang out it’s nice we have a somewhat peaceful moment between the two where they just talk.

We cut to Faye and Ein, the latter just wanting to eat while Faye sleeps. Though when the story finally picks up and Faye is forced to feed Ein it’s weird to see how flippant she is about her past.

So much so that she says to Ein, “Do you want to know a secret about my past? Do you?” in a sing-song voice. If you look into it a little too much, you could say she’s so easy going about it because she only has surface level knowledge. Knowing what happens later in the episode, it’s clear to say Faye doesn’t truly remember her life beyond what it is now.

So, her perception of her past is fake and that’s possibly why she has no fear in telling people.

We cut back to the past, from the perspective of the tubbed woman we see bright lights and nurses. We’re given a range of shots, some a little more...creative than others.

Doctor: “Do you think she’s been successfully unfrozen?”

Just from this line alone we can grasp so much, the woman we saw in the beginning was being frozen and presumably she is in the future, but how much time as passed? Who is this woman? Why was she specifically frozen?

Doctor: “You’re healing quite nicely, no wounds left, no scratches.”

Again, although some questions are being answered like the confirmation that we are now in the future, there are many questions being created. Wounds? What wounds? How badly was this woman hurt? Is this why she was frozen?

It’s also not hard to note the distinctive purple hair, only matching one character in the show that is shown to have said hair; Faye.

As the story progresses, we’re transported to a hospital, with no fancy transition this time. We meet one of the main characters in this particular episode, Witney Hagas Matsumoto. He reveals our lead girl’s name, and what do you know it’s Faye Valentine.

The reveal is short and sweet and real simple, and that’s all it needs to be. With the huge amount of set up already done it was pretty obvious this mystery woman was going to be Faye and I appreciate the short and sweet reveal.

I also briefly want to talk about the music, compared to other tracks from the series like Bad Dog No Biscuits or Rush, the song playing over Faye’s awakening and even to now is sweet and calming. It’s simple and effective in making us feel relaxed.

Witney tells the audience and more importantly Faye that she was involved in a terrible accident and doctors from her time couldn’t save her with the equipment available, so they did the only logical thing; they froze her.

Which, you know, is a pretty normal thing to do, all things considered.

I will say I do not like the camera movement that follows after, it feels like I'm on a rollercoaster. I’m not sure if they wanted to show off their amazing camera skills or new technology but I am not a fan.

I love the entire sequence of Faye escaping, the way she shimmies down a drainpipe or how she crawls under the window. You see the small aspects of the Faye the show has tried to introduce to you, slowly building up with what is essentially a fresh character.

Faye’s small speech is heart wrenching, especially coming from a character who is known to put walls up between people and uses lies as a comfort tool.

Faye: “I can’t pay 300 million. It’s not fair to revive me then expect me to pay all that money, I don’t even know anything about myself.”

Perhaps a lovely bit of foreshadowing is the way Witney’s face is entirely cast in shadows while Faye’s is light. You can’t see Witney’s face, you can only hear him, you can only listen to what he has to say. On the other hand with Faye, she doesn’t say anything, but her face is drowned in light, Sunrise Studios wants you to be able to see her face.

Cut to a montage of Faye adjusting to the future with the help of Witney by her side, we also get another song with the addition of lyrics. Through this montage we see the development of Faye and Witney’s relationship, the montage makes the relationship work better compared to seeing it in real-time. Speeding through these events because in the end they’re not plot heavy, they’re not important to the overall story the creators are trying to show us.

This relationship is here for one reason and one reason only, Faye’s downfall.

We slowly start to see this downfall with the addition of the collection agency hunting down Faye and Witney, because in Witney’s words “They got impatient.”

To protect Faye, Witney tells her to run away and meet him at the hospital while he buys her some time. He then speeds off in his flashy red car and leaves Faye alone, something she often is. The music continues to play with this beautiful sax echoing out as Faye begins running but it all comes to a sudden stop when an explosion rings out from the background.

Another fast cut and we’re back at the hospital with Faye crying and the doctor talking about Witney, though it’s never by name. From this we’re not physically told about his death but the explosion and the conversation of his paperwork heavily implies his demise.

Again, another series that follows the lesson of show don’t tell.

The doctor continues to tell Faye that Witney left everything to her, however what Witney leaves to Faye is something no one ever wants; debts.

Faye freaks out, understandably so, and flips the table. We then get a freeze frame of said moment, and from my terrible knowledge I don’t know any other time the series has done a freeze frame quite like this one. Though I do love how uninterested the nurse in the background is, as though this has happened many times before.

From a narration given by Faye we’re brought back to the present, er future? We’re brought back to the regular timeline of the show, nailed it!

At this point Ein is passed out, possibly unconscious to the world and Faye is just mumbling to herself, or more directly, talking to the audience. We get a brief comical moment where Spike exits the toilet apparently eavesdropping onto Faye’s story, which is very in character, and I just adore the interaction between the pair.

Faye: “How long were you in there listening, Spike?”

Spike: “Too long. Your story needs editing.”

After some discourse between Spike and Faye, the latter does reveal that she doesn’t know the whole truth about her past, once again making me think that’s the reason why she’s so nonchalant about the whole thing.

Once Jet returns with the bounty he had been telling Ed about, everything falls into place. Who does Jet bring back you may be sat asking yourself? Or maybe not if you’ve already seen the episode. Anyway, Jet brings back none other than Witney Haggis Matumoto. Dun, dun, duuuunnn.

Now I don’t want to dive too deeply into the rest of the episode, as that’s not truly what I wanted to focus on. What I did want to focus on was Faye’s past and how just the term past seems to be the mantra for the show.

The show as a whole is all about revisiting your past, Spike revisits his past in the form of Vicious and Julia, Jet in the form of his old cop partner, Ed in terms with their father and Faye with Witney. Yet, that isn’t all of it.

Faye has even more to unpack when it comes to her memories, in a later episode titled Speak Like A Child, Faye physically rewatches her youngest memories unfold in front of her.

My Faye Valentine starts setting up things we had never seen before about Faye, again, she lies like it’s a second language. But finally getting to see some part of her that was truthful was so, so interesting. The show to me knows when it’s giving too much and knows when it’s not doing enough.

Is every episode good? No, not really. But does every episode have some form of purpose or has some form of character growth? Absolutely.

My Faye Valentine, while not the best episode in the series, offers up an interesting perspective on one of the show's main characters. This episode isn’t then forgotten, this episode helps set up the next big Faye episode like Speak Like A Child and it allows us to rewatch the series and see the characters differently.

I simply like this episode as it sets out and does what it wanted to accomplish. It wanted to explain to us who Faye Valentine was, how she ended up where she is, and it fully accomplishes that. Sure, it doesn’t delve into detail but that allows the audience to fill in the gap.

Cowboy Bebop as a whole is about coming to terms with your past, every character learns to adapt and conquer it and I think it’s a good positive message; that your past doesn’t define you, it’s how you deal with it that does.

Roll credits!!!!

3 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All