"Waltz For Venus" is the eighth session, or episode, of Cowboy Bebop.
- Michiko Yokote
- Takuro Shinbo (Nakamura Production)
Mechanical Animation Director:
- Masami Goto
Spike and Faye take a commercial shuttle into Venus in order to catch a trio of small time hijackers in the act. Their targets, Huey, Louie and Dewey, wait until the ship arrives at the planet to pull out their guns and start shooting. Spike effortlessly knocks out two of them while waking from a nap while Faye uses a stun perfume to knock out the third hijacker. They collect the bounty at the Venus spaceport, 1.5 million Woolongs total, making it a crucially-needed success as of late. On board that same shuttle is Rocco Bonnaro, who is trying to get a package somewhere on the planet. Unfortunately, he's told it will cost 5,000 Woolongs. When he sees Spike again, he hurriedly threatens the customer service member to send the package and runs to meet him.
Rocco decides to attempt to charge Spike and, when he's inevitably knocked down, says he is impressed by Spike's fighting skills. He begs Spike to show him his Judo and Kung-fu, and Spike eventually gives in. He explains outside that his fighting ability comes not from excessive strength, but fluid motion that allows him to react without thought and channel the opponent's power to use against them. Rocco tries to understand, but, soon, a couple of thugs show up at the spaceport looking for him. Without explaining, he runs off, but not before he hands Spike a package and asks him to meet the next day.
Back on the Bebop, Jet complains to Spike about Faye's taking off without letting them know when she'll be back. He has been researching the next bounty head, and suggests doing that while they wait. The target is Piccaro Calvino and a crew, who stole a valuable Grey Ash plant. Surprisingly, Spike sees that Rocco is part of that crew and the package he was given is that same plant, which he then shows to Jet. Jet notes that the plants are worth tens of millions of Woolongs and are used in medicine to cure a blindness disease called Venus Sickness. Faye immediately proposes selling the plant, but Jet dismisses that, since it's stolen.
While Faye tries to find Piccaro, Spike flies off in his Swordfish II to investigate a ruined shuttle in the desert. There, he encounters a woman hiding in the shadow, holding him now at gunpoint. She yells, "don't move!"
Spike holds up his hands and insists he's not a criminal, but, oddly, the woman stumbles and he catches her. He says he's looking for Rocco and she's immediately glad, as she's Rocco's sister, Stella. Spike learns that she has Venus Sickness and is completely blind. She shows him a music box Rocco sent her and Spike finds Grey Ash seeds inside. He realizes Rocco only stole the plant to cure his sister's blindness.
Meanwhile, Rocco is caught by Piccaro and his gang in the bathroom. They interrogate him, beating him up and burning him with a cigar, but Rocco refuses to tell them about the Grey Ash plant. However, when they mention his sister, he eventually agrees to lead them to Spike. Meanwhile, Faye's attempt to track down Piccaro ends up being a wild goose chase. She eventually realizes she's being set up and races back to find Jet and Spike.
Rocco and Spike meet at their arranged time and place, and Spike lets him know that he's a bounty hunter. Rocco draws his gun as a reaction but drops it when Spike then says he knows the plant is for Stella's blindness. He wants Spike to run, but Piccaro's gang surrounds Spike. When Rocco asks them to spare Spike's life, they refuse and Rocco decides to act, giving Spike time to get cover. A shootout commences and Rocco runs for cover with the Grey Ash plant. Faye soon makes it to the meeting place in her Red Tail zipcraft and fires on the gang members, knocking walls and pillars to the ground. Jet also joins the action in the Hammer Head.
During the fight, one gang member takes Rocco on in hand-to-hand combat, but Rocco uses Spike's fluid motion to evade the goon and knock him to the ground. Rocco is impressed with himself, and Spike gives him a thumbs-up, but just then Rocco is shot in the back and falls to the ground. Faye corners Piccaro and forces him to surrender, and the shooting stops. Spike rushes over to Rocco but cannot do anything to save him. Before he dies, Rocco wonders if he and Spike could have been friends if they had met earlier.
After that night, Spike goes to visit Stella in the hospital where she is about to undergo surgery to repair her eyesight. She is under the assumption that Rocco arranged the operation and will come visit her, until she learns from Spike's silence and facial features that Rocco has died. She asks Spike what Rocco was really like and Spike replies that she knows better than anyone: that he was a terrific guy.
Later, Spike stops a small fruit stand in a little square to buy an apple, and as he goes on his away and takes a bite, the spores that were responsible for Stella's blindness begin to fall like snow.
[Rocco comes at Spike with a knife and Spike sends Rocco to the ground]
- “How did you do that?”
- — Rocco Bonnaro
- “You’re tense, I’m calm. You apply excessive force; I control that force through fluid motion. That means relaxing the whole body so it can react instantly without resistance—no, without thought. Do you see now? It means becoming like clear water.”
- — Spike Spiegel
- — Rocco Bonnaro
- “Right. Water can take any form. It drifts without effort one moment, then pounds down in a torrent the very next.”
- — Spike Spiegel
- “I’m not a criminal. Woah, that makes me sound more like a criminal, doesn't it?”
- — Spike Spiegel
- “Master, you see it? I was fluid like water.”
- — Rocco Bonnaro
- “You know better than anyone, without looking. He was a terrific guy. Exactly the person you thought he was.”
- — Spike Spiegel
Themes and MotifsEdit
- No Smoking Allowed: Spike takes an elevator at the Venus spaceport that is a no smoking area, but Spike is seen with a cigarette in his mouth. Throughout the series characters attempt to smoke in no smoking areas (Honky Tonk Woman, Bohemian Rhapsody).
- Gambling: After collecting her share of the bounty, Faye goes off to a casino to try her luck at quick cash. Throughout the series Faye's gambling addiction becomes a central part of her character.
- Music Box: Rocco sends Stella an old-fashioned music box. In Jupiter Jazz (Part 1) and Jupiter Jazz (Part 2) a character named Gren also has an old-fashioned music box instrument. This is one instance of digital technology being supplanted by analogue technology.
Homages and ReferencesEdit
- Tom and Jerry is parodied during the in-flight movie on-board the shuttle to Venus.
- Huey, Dewey, and Louie are references to the three nephews of the Disney character, Donald Duck.
- The music-box plays the song "The Singing Sea".
- The scene where Rocco gets roughened up by Piccaro and his gang bears resemblance to a similar scenario in the neo-noir film Chinatown, in which the protagonist receives a beating and a cut to the nose by a gang leader and his henchman in front of a chain-link fence.
- The episode is highly inspired by the 1951 Noir film On Dangerous Ground. Both Stella and Rocco are inspired by the main characters Rocco's death is similar to the main characters death. And both female characters receive a bittersweet ending. And like the main character Rocco is only doing crime to take care of his sister.
- Spike's description of his fighting style being "like water" might suggest certain forms of Chinese martial arts such as Wing Chun or Tai Chi. It is also likely a reference to a quotation by Bruce Lee (who himself practiced Wing Chun).
- “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
- — Bruce Lee
- Middle Eastern-based architecture, dress, and written language appear throughout the scenery of Venus, alongside the bazaar where Turkish store names are seen. In the fourteenth minute of the session, a skyline of Venus is also shown with an architectural copy of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque of Istanbul, Turkey. All these details suggest that Venus has substantial Arab and Turkish populations.
- Interestingly, in another Watanabe anime, Samurai Champloo, a similar story is told. In the series 7th episode "Surrounded on all Sides", a young man is forced to commit crimes in order to pay for a treatment that will heal his ill mother. Just like Rocco however, he ends up being killed, leaving the ultimate fate of his relative unknown.