"Pierrot Le Fou" is the twentieth session of Cowboy Bebop.
- Sadayuki Murai
- Takahiro Komori
Mechanical Animation Director:
- Masami Goto
Looming in the city's night sky on Mars, a mysterious figure descends upon a group of unsuspecting men to claim their lives. He guns down the lead man and the guards easily. Meanwhile, Spike is playing pool at the C'est la Vie and leaves, unsuspectingly entering the scene. The man pauses and then proceeds to fire several shots at Spike with his gun which resembled a cane. Spike, reacting quickly, managed to dodge the shots, hide behind some garbage nearby and return fire from his handgun. However, he found that his bullets had no effect on the mysterious man as the bullet seemed to stop several feet short of its target by some unknown force surrounding the mysterious man. The man then floated toward Spike and began engaging with him in hand-to-hand combat. The man bested Spike in the engagement with a series of flying kicks and had him knocked down at gunpoint. Luckily for Spike, a cat nearby frightened the man causing him to shoot furiously at the cat instead. During this minor distraction, Spike managed to blow up a propane tank right in front of the man causing a huge explosion that he himself barely escaped from. However, to Spike's surprise, the man has somehow came out of the explosion seemingly untouched then proceeding to wound Spike's arm with a throwing knife. The man then proceeded to display his collection of weapons underneath his coat. Finding himself outmatched, Spike began to make an escape towards the river, but not before being blown into the water by the man's grenade launcher. Afterward, with Spike nowhere in sight, the mysterious man disappeared into the night from which he came from.
The next day, Jet and his friend Bob discuss the incident. Bob tells him that the man he encountered is called "Mad Pierrot" and he is targeting high-level ISSP directors. Furthermore, the ISSP don't want the general populace to know about it. Spike, on the Bebop, is on the couch covered in bandages with Faye harassing him. She calls him the living mummy and notes how Spike always gets into situations like this. Bob explains that Mad Pierrot was the seventh person to be conducted in experiments in order to create the ultimate killing machine and reveal that Spike is the only known person to survive an encounter with him, Mad Pierrot enters and leaves a scene with a smile and his real name is Tongpu.
Meanwhile, Edward receives an email saying that Spike has been invited to a party and that it's being held in the theme park Space Land. She finds Faye and tells her only to be told to keep it a secret, Faye not wanting Spike to respond. Spike, however, is right behind her. He jokes with Faye like he may not come back from this, then supposes that Faye will come to his rescue. Faye calls him a lunkhead for saying that. As soon as Spike leaves, Jet arrives and tells Ed to do him a favor.
Spike arrives at Space Land and, despite his wound, tries to walk normal. He eventually encounters Tongpu, who lights up the park and declares that they party. He then starts the firefight, exchanging gun fire at him leading Spike on a mad chase, encountering many of the amusement park's mascots and behind-the-scenes areas. Tongpu, clearly knowing the park's layout, arrives on a penguin car and fires a rocket at him.
Meanwhile, Jet instructs Ed to hack the mainframe of the ISSP, specifically, section 13 (which the public doesn't know about). She starts working.
Spike continues to be chased by Tongpu and shoots at him hoping the bulletproof vest wears out. Along the way Spike encounters another mascot that greets him. He tells it to shut up and beats it up, only to be pursued again by Pierrot and forced onto a rollercoaster. Tongpu intercepts him via another rollercoaster, catches him by the neck with a whip and tosses him onto the track. He then throws a bomb at him in the cart and Spike falls into the river below.
Ed succeeds in accessing the information. They learn about an "assassination skills enhancement experiment" in which an individual, code name Tongpu, was experimented on, both genetically and physically. Interestingly, there was a cat in the observation window to the experiment. The experiment was apparently cancelled and Tongpu put in isolation in the quarantined facility. When they deemed him insane, Tongpu killed the officials and doctors involved in the experiment. Now, however, he's already gotten his revenge and seems to simply enjoy killing. Jet reads that the experiments caused him to regress in personality to a child, a child that likes to kill, and he remarks that there is nothing as innocent and yet so cruel as a child.
Spike has managed to swim to shore where he is greeted by Tongpu yelling "it's showtime!" and shoots at him with a rocket. Spike manages to escape when a couple of rockets strike near Tongpu, revealing that Faye has arrived in the Red Tail. Spike isn't exactly thrilled and, indeed, Tongpu dodges the rockets and shoots down the ship. The explosion sends Spike crashing into a gift shop while Faye lands safely but is rendered unconscious.
Tongpu approaches Spike and tells him "prepare to die" when, suddenly, a toy cat falls from a shelf and starts meowing, freaking Tongpu out. He shoots the toy to pieces and, using this diversion, Spike escapes and fires at Tongpu but he immediately shoots Spike's gun out of his hands. A parade of mascots then marches through the resulting standoff. Spike slowly reaches for a small dagger, tucked away behind him on his belt. Oddly, as the lights flash, they strike Spike's eyes in such a way that Tongpu remembers the eyes of the cat from the laboratory. In a scream of fear he fires and the bullet pierces Spike's shoulder, however, Spike succeeds in throwing the dagger at Tongpu, hitting him in the leg. While not really injuring him, this one wound reduces Tongpu to tears, causing him to fall down onto the ground crying out for his mother. As he is lying there, the parade of robots pass over him with the largest one stepping on Tongpu, killing him.
Jet soon contacts Spike with information on Tongpu, but Spike interrupts, saying that he no longer needs the information. Instead, he quips how he hates amusement parks.
"Hello, gentlemen. I have come to take your lives."
"Really... There is nothing as pure and cruel as children."
- Tank! (TV Edit) – Opening titles
- Eyeball – Mad Pierrot stalks the ISSP officer and his "protection" team, and again later when Spike and Mad Pierrot fight for the first time
- Amusement Park – Let's party at Space Land!
- On the Run – The sad history of Mad Pierrot is revealed
- Amusement Park – The party get less and less fun
- Amusement Park (Ritardando Version) – [Unreleased] It's the big parade, but a tragic madman just wants his mommy
- The Real Folk Blues – Closing titles
- "Jazz Piano" – [Unreleased] Preview for Boogie Woogie Feng Shui
Themes and Motifs
- The image of unchanging faces (like masks) is constant, both in the animatronics in Space World, and in the Mad Pierrot's own face, and acts as a foil to Spike's constantly relaxed demeanor, and raises questions as to what Spike is hiding under this "mask".
Homages and references
- Pierrot Le Fou is a 1965 postmodern film directed by the French and Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard, who was one of the founding members of the French New Wave in cinema. The name Pierrot Le Fou, or Pierrot the Sad Clown, originated with a stock character in 16th-century commedia dell'arte.
- Tongpu's character seems to be based off a mixture of three of Batman's nemeses: The Penguin (in attire), The Joker (in certain mannerisms) and the less popular villain Tally Man (in personality, weaponry, and design) who is also an assassin, first appears massacring a group of criminals, has the seeming ability to fly, a cruel almost permanent grin, and a disturbed childlike personality.
- Tongpu's character also resembles "V" from Alan Moore's "V for Vendetta" comic book. He is a victim of an experiment and killed important members of the organization responsible for it. Also, he is quite theatrical and wears a top hat.
- Spaceland seems to be a clear nod to Disneyland with many characters in the park resembling Disney characters such as the Donald Duck statue in the background, a Goofy animatronic wearing a sailor uniform, a Pluto roller coaster and others more who could be a reference to other cartoons such as Loony Tunes.
- The motif of inviting the protagonist to a theme park is also used in "The Killing Joke" - a graphic novel in which Joker lures Batman into a deserted amusement park.
- The scene with Tengpu's ISSP testing flashback seems to be based on "Project MKUltra" - sometimes referred to as the CIA's mind control program. The soundtrack of the scene, "On The Run " by The Seatbelts, is a cover of Pink Floyd's "On The Run" from their album Dark Side of the Moon. While the song itself is said to be about the pressures of travel, the album more broadly deals with themes of mental instability.
- The episode is visually inspired by Batman the Animated Series. Worthy of note is that Bebop's production company Sunrise had actually done work on the series.