This is one of my personal favorite anime shows.
It was one of the "gateway drugs" to anime in the 90s in the west thanks to TOONAMI. And from movies and shows like Ghost In The Shell. What made this show so unique was it was completely accessible towards those who are new to the series or anime as well. It was directed by Shinchiro Watanabe and it ran for about 26 episodes and a movie as well.
It focuses on 4 bounty hunters Spike Spiegel,Jet Black,Faye Valentine,Ed and their Welsh Corgi EIN. As they travel all over the solar system looking for bounty heads in order to make a living.
The story is a genre bending styled mostly procedural format that uses an overarching narrative. It is mixture of sci-fi,western and neo noir. And other genres like Horror or martial arts movies are thrown into the mix as well.
Each episode is named after a song or album like "Sympathy For The Devil" is after the Rolling Stones song of the same name. And each episode is called a "Session" named after a music session.
The show is highly inspired by films like The Crow,Reservoir Dogs,Desperado,Alien,A better tomorrow 2 and a game of death.
It uses a lot of pop culture references like films such as The Killer and A Better Tomorrow 2. And each episode is also highly inspired by a certain genre of music or film like Mushroom Samba is highly inspired by Blaxplotation films which in the 21st century it would be highly frowned upon. So there is a lot of stuff for you to find if your favorite song or movie is referenced and each Easter egg is played off quite well and it works with the story.
All of the episodes are high stakes and anybody could get killed at any moment and death is a pretty tragic thing in the show.
The show has alot of entertaining black comedy in it that does break the tension from time to time.
Along with the high stakes action there is really good cinematography and camera angles too.
The visuals of the show look timeless and the increased resolution on the blu ray made it look even more flawless.
It explores themes like existentialism and loneliness each episode is focused on a different theme all of themes are shown in a mature and subtle way and it was very well executed.
I like the more serious episodes like The Real Folk Blues Jupiter Jazz and especially Ballad of Fallen Angels. They focused highly on Spike's mysterious past and his goal to get vengeance on Vicious. And the story is a highly ambiguous and mysterious story as each episode you learn about the characters past bit by bit and what led them up to their current situation. The past itself is a major theme of the series as each character has faced their own personal tragedies and how it eventually catches up to them in the present day.
It has space combat,martial arts and shootouts as action scenes in each episode.
The action scenes itself are highly inspired by Bruce Lee movies and wild westerns and heroic bloodshed films directed by John Woo. And the action in this show is highly impressive and intense.
All of the character designs look really great and very realistic.
Another great thing is its highly detailed art direction each location is distinct from each other and the ships,backgrounds and weapon designs look very intricate.
The musical score is one of the most important things about the anime as this is highly influenced by Jazz music. They also do other music genres as well like metal or the blues and it is highly well done and it matches with the style of animation it uses along with the story too. Sometimes they even omit dialogue to tell the story visually and replace it with music. I enjoyed the high quality audio that the blu ray version provides.
The animation is highly detailed and smooth. It is a mix of hand drawn and digital cell shading and each episode looks completely flawless and unique.
The voice acting Is really quite good. Especially the English dub which even Shinchiro Watanabe prefers as well. The Japanese dub as well is pretty good and you can choose between two dubs with the dvd or blu ray version.
It really goes well for each character like Spike Spiegel and Vicious. With Vicious being the main villain he is given a cold and gravely voice. And Spike Spiegel he is given a Laidback and mellow sounding voice.
There is a variety of extras in the dvd and blu ray such as the notorious session xx which was made as a response to the rise of violence during the late 90s in Japan which even the show mocks as it has had nothing at all to do with it.
It really quite is one of the most impressive anime I've seen ever.
I'll give it 5 stars.
If you enjoy neo noir and westerns you are going to really like this show.