Keiko Nobumoto and the Inescapable Past

After leaving a Macross Plus viewing on Tuesday night, I just feel like it is time to talk about one of the more underrated people behind anime series that wouldn’t be the same otherwise.. This is Cowboy Bebop news by the way. There were two bits of Cowboy Bebop news recently and this is the news that really matters. The screen writer behind the original series, Keiko Nobumoto, passed away on December 1st due to esophageal cancer. So yeah, we have lost a lot of famous and exquisite anime people from all realms of history this year and Keiko, at age 57, is yet another of them.

If you aren’t familiar with Keiko’s writing, you can just look up what she’s done and get an idea. Several series of pretty large anime importance like Cowboy Bebop, Macross Plus, Wolf’s Rain, and Tokyo Godfathers is on that list of works that she penned. In the grand scheme of the entire anime universe, she hasn’t written as much as one would think. Yet, each movie or ova or television series she has worked on feels larger then life. I think that has to do with some of the thematic elements of her writing that just sinks into people in such a relatable way. Some people will get it, but not everyone will.

What connects these works together is the sense of the history that her characters carry with them. These aren’t characters that develop through the series, these are characters we get to know because they have already developed. These are characters that are running away from a past they don’t want to be apart of because they can’t see a way to returning to it. It’s very adult writing compared to the more younger teen age writing where the characters develop over the series. Very grounded writing that a person can find relatable as they get older because of a what a person wishes they did when they were younger or the doubt they care.

There is a massively strong bits of relatability in all of those aspects. The past. Getting to know people more through all the experiences they face through their life and seeing how their actions are informed by their past. To me, that is why her writing feels so interesting even if their are episodic in nature. With so many bits of her stories featuring characters showing how they live their lives and face whatever conflict is in front of of them by how their past would allow them to. Does a character jump into a situation expecting to day anyway? Does a character jump into a situation hoping to defeat their pat and move on? That is the question in those scenarios by seeing who these characters truly are over how they want to present themselves on the outside. Keiko’s writing does all of this and its really good guys.

One major example of all these concepts is Faye Valentine from the original Cowboy Bebop. The show and Faye herself wants to show herself as a tough chick and a fem fatale that can use her sexuality in a way that gives her an advantage. Yet, Cowboy Bebop knows who she truly is. She is this soft girl out of time looking for help. Cowboy Bebop knows her façade is fake. Cowboy Bebop knows that she is yet another person escaping a past that is crawling all over her to the point where she tries to recover it again. She is only one instance for of Keiko Nobumoto doing this with characters who feel like clichés at first until they aren’t. Her writing breaks clichés by making them into real people.

We really did lose a great writer who brings a lot of humanity into her characters. Whether its her characters carrying her past with them or being real adults who are weighed down by their past, this is just a true fact. There is a reason why Satoshi Kon sought her out for Tokyo Godfathers and Perfect Blue before that when she was too busy to take the job. Man, a big what could have been. Keiko Nobumoto is a phenomenal writer who didn’t write enough. Her fictional characters were brought to life through her writer skill and we should be thankful for that. Rest in Peace, Keiko Nobumoto.

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  1. Ok please don’t think I am stalking your blog but I was just looking at what other creators have written around Macross and most of the articles are from here so yeah you will receive a lot of notifications from me.
    This article was beautiful. She really was not too talked-about for a while but now that she’s gone I see a lot of talk about her on the net. But the way you have written this shows so much insight into what made her work “click.” The idea of characters who have already done their growing and we are just seeing them for that moment in time. She is one of my all-time favorite anime creators because you know if she’s written it, you will come away feeling like you got something out of it. Directors she has worked with have made other pieces which are good but somewhere don’t quite match up and that’s where you see her influence.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve only written about a few of them. I need to go through SDF and Frontier again to write about them at some point.

      Thanks so much. Would it make any sense that this was written at 11:00 pm because I couldn’t sleep that night because it’s true. But yeah, Keiko really is at another caliber that it’s almost unfair for everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It would make a lot of sense. I felt the need to comment on this because it felt like it was written with so much love for her and her work. A lot of people are only just realising what all she worked on. I wrote one on her too while on a flight, sporadically crying because she’d just passed away and I was breaking down Bebop and finding so much more in it. Just a whole thing. I want to go back and write something more thought out than that emotional love letter at some point but she plays so well with your emotions that it happens.

        Liked by 1 person

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