Waltz for Venus

I first saw Cowboy Bebop back when it still airs on GMA-7, on a Thursday night, alongside another anime, Outlaw Star. Speak Like A Child was probably the first episode I saw. This is the episode where Jet and Spike go to a flooded city on Earth looking for a Betamax player. Just to be able to play the tape that someone had secretly sent to Faye. Speak Like A Child being somewhat different from the more action-oriented episodes of Cowboy Bebop and other anime that I knew at the time, is probably one of the reasons that I “bookmarked” the show right then and there. I thought this looks really good. Back then, I most likely thought that compared to other anime, Speak Like A Child is more like an “arty indie film.” (While I do still remember Outlaw Star, I didn’t really bother to seek and see it. And I still haven’t up to now.)

I probably saw a couple of episodes after but I don’t remember watching the show regularly then. It wasn’t until Cowboy Bebop re-appeared on the TV network’s programming as part of the weekend morning cartoons that I was able to really get into the series. At this point, I was already occupied with work. But with work comes internet access too, which means I could easily search and read stuff about Cowboy Bebop and other things that interest me. At the time, I worked mostly on night shift. So, when I get back from work in the morning, I made it a point to catch and watch each episode just before I go to sleep. It was in one of these mornings when I first saw what I consider one of the best Bebop episodes, Waltz for Venus.

IMDB Synopsis: After collecting a bounty, Spike gains a fan in Roco Bonnaro. Roco, a small-time gang member, stole a rare and valuable plant from his own gang. Spike finds it’s more valuable than he is, but Roco has a different plan for the plant.

If Ganymede Elegy is set in Ganymede, Waltz for Venus is set in, um, Venus. And while the former plays as an elegy to Jet’s past, Waltz for Venus does not feature Strauss’ famous “The Blue Danube,” nor is there a scene where Spike dances with Faye, though it probably would have been cool if they included a scene like that. This episode is centered around Roco Bonnaro, a small-time gang member and a loving brother to his blind sister Stella. Roco plays the side-kick, fan, friend, but also as a bounty head to Spike — the last one drawing a conflict between the two. Having a prize on his head means he’s fair game to bounty hunters. But Spike finding about and meeting his sister Stella, changes that. Roco after they became friends, entrusted the valuable plant to Spike, only to learn later that he’s a bounty hunter, which means he can’t be trusted. Still, Roco chooses to save Spike from the gangsters when the two got cornered. Again, I like this sort of internal and external conflict that drives the story forward and gives it dramatic heft.

And there’s something about having a light comedic moment just before the heaviest scene punches you in the gut. Earlier, Roco is so persistent in requesting Spike to teach him ‘the moves,’ this after he witnessed Spike and Faye foil a hijacking in the plane on the way to Venus. Then, later in the middle of a gunfight, Roco is finally able to use what Spike taught him earlier, using a fluid motion and knocking down one of the goons, only for him to get shot in the back right after. Waltz for Venus ends with Stella in a hospital about to undergo surgery for her eyes. Spike visits her and she excitedly tells him she wants Roco to be the first person she sees after the surgery. Until Spike’s steely silence gives away what happened. When Stella asks what his brother was really like, Spike replies, “You know better than anyone, without looking. He was a terrific guy. Exactly the person you thought he was.”

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