Being from another culture, a lot of pop references may go way over your head if you aren’t familiar with Japanese puns (they are so intricate and occasionally hilarious?) or their lifestyles, fashions, history, etc. One of the reasons Excel Saga was so funny was because it played with so many of the tropes in anime and critiqued Japanese culture in a tongue-in-cheek way, but had I not been immersed in anime at the time, nearly the entire series would have gone over my head.
Luckily, Cowboy Bebop has a ton of western references that made their way into episodes: Kareem Abdul Jabbar (Hakim) vs Bruce Lee (Spike) in “Stray Dog Strut” or the Penguin-esque Pierrot from “Pierrot Le Fou.”
But the best? The entire episode of “Toys in the Attic,” which is essentially one giant homage to Alien, one of my all-time favorite movies. It has a very silly ending, and isn’t really even in the top ten episodes of the series for me, but it’s a lot of fun just to see Spike run around, Ripley-like, trying to kill the lunch he forgot about for a year.
Um, spoiler alert there, by the way. Shit, the show is over 20 years old (fuck. me., I’m old); I don’t feel bad at all. I kind of hope they do an episode like this in the live-action version!
Art Credit: PennLive