Gren’s eternal smile

If I had to condense my love for anime into one single moment, I’d choose the scene when `Space Lion` begins playing in the 13th episode of Cowboy Bebop (Jupiter Jazz.) It is one of the first times I can remember feeling a pang of bitter-sweetness whilst watching anime: the sadness of Gren’s passing tempered by Spike’s and Faye’s return to the Bebop; that Jet can’t really hide the fact that he truly gives a shit about them but, like a grumpy Dad, is too up-tight to admit it, and Gren’s death-wish to be cut adrift amongst the stars and sent drifting towards Titan. Alone.

“I see. You are Spike. Julia was always talking about you… That your two eyes were of different colours… That’s what she said… That you get a strange feeling when you look into his eyes.” — Gren

A strange romance springs forth from the snow-capped streets and cold, gray clouds, and from the elegant, softly-voiced Gren himself, an angelic hermaphrodite in love with Vicious, yet broken by the betrayal of their friendship. His sad, tired eyes and knowing smile are captured and carried beautifully by `Space Lion`’s warm tone of resignation. It’s a spine-tingling moment.

Author: bateszi

A huge bloody nerd. I apologise in advance. I live in Cambridge, England. That's not an excuse, by the way.

6 thoughts on “Gren’s eternal smile”

  1. Definitely a powerful moment, and rather uncomfortable.

    What I love about this is how the Spike and Julia intrigue through Gren has Faye as a captive audience. “Who is this Julia? What kind of woman is Spike into?” Ahhh delicious, because it is so doomed.

    I love the part in Space Lion when it sounds like part of that Christmas song

    “They know that Santa’s on his way,

    bringing lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh”

  2. Thanks for this post – I watched Bebop about 6 years ago, my second anime after Evangelion, and the moment you’re referring to was one of the defining moments of my love for anime, too.

  3. What can I say that hasnt been said about Bebop. Moments like this are why this anime will never be moved from#1 on my top 10. Seriously, the amazing thing about this show is that as powerful as this scene is, everyone that loves Bebop could name another scene that was just as powerful to them on every single episode.

    Today one of my folks just finished some scifi anime, and he was talking about how blown away he was. I defined that feeling as Euphoria… something that overwhelms u emotionally right after watching an anime. A feeling that might fade in a month or 2. I saw Bebop for the first time 10 yrs ago on adult swim, and now I can honestly say I love it more today in my mid 20s than i did when i was a teenager. The difference between Euphoria and Admiration is infinite.

    My feelings on Bebop and another masterpiece Planet ES will never change or diminish, only grow with time as i get older and experience new emotions and reflect on how bebop foreshadowed many events in my life that i was to young to understand.

  4. @ghostlightning

    I think you could probably write a book analyzing the relationships between the Bebop crew; one of the scenes I’m thinking of right now is when, right at the end of the very episode in question, Faye is reading a magazine as Ed paints her toe-nails; I just found it remarkable in the sense that it’s one of the most naturally crafted scenes of ‘relaxed’ human interaction I’ve ever seen animated; so much can be inferred from just Faye’s body language and tone of voice.

    @Jonathan

    Great to hear I’m not alone :)

    @kauldron26

    Yeah, I’m exactly the same. The more I see of Bebop, the more I love it, and watching it has tempted me to start re-watching all of my older favourites again just to see whether they have stood the test of time, too.

    I guess you could say I’ve come to value Bebop even more because it’s actually better than I remembered it being. Every episode is fantastic. Not one dud. The effort put into every frame totally astonishes me.

    It’s truly one of kind, and it depresses me to think that the only series Shinichirō Watanabe has crafted since is Samurai Champloo. His talent really shines through, from the use of the music, to the dialogue and the way the camera frames each scene, he’s a world-class director and should be creating stories for the rest of his life, but it just seems like he’s lost his drive/inspiration :(

  5. Oh god, Jupiter Jazz always breaks my heart. As far as I’m concerned those two episodes are among the most brilliant moments in anime, and in animation in general. The visuals, the imagery, the mood, the music, the characterization, the overall themes (friends, comrades, love), they’re just perfect.

    One thing I love about Gren’s storyline is that it’s as much about Gren and Vicious as about Vicious and Spike. I’m always a bit baffled when I see people take Vicious at face value and think he’s always been like that. I think the entire point of Jupiter Jazz is that there’s more to the characters than it seems, and that includes Vicious, Spike and even Julia as well.

    1. One of the things I really love about Bebop is how it hints at the past, such that it feels like we’re merely dipping our toes into a tiny stream of these characters lives, in comparison to the sheer ocean of time (that is their lives) that came before. Jupiter Jazz is brilliant for this, if just for the hints at Vicious’s past. Why was he fighting in the war at Titan? Why did Gren grow to love him? Bebop never spells anything out, but presents itself in such a way that one can really grasp an understanding of its characters.

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