Character Analysis: Spike Spiegel
I’mma gonna troll Landon now.
Spike Spiegel, from Cowboy Bebop. He is cool yes? Manly man? Warrior amongst mere fighters? He is the Meme Chuck Norris of the anime world yes? In the words of Kevin Spacey: WROOOOOOOOOONG!
Okay, so Spike IS cool, but manly? A great fighter? A Casanova? Nein, not even close.
First up, let’s talk manliness. Spike is NOT manly. He’s not a wuss, and at times, he’s got his moments. But Spike’s a laid back rogue. Calling him manly would be like calling Kamina manly, which is to say, INCORRECT. Not that Kamina didn’t have his moments either, but objectively, he was more delusional and possibly suffering from some sorta dementia rather than manly. Manliest thing he did was probably when he was on the verge of death, at which point, he finally had a moment of sanity in his life, whereupon he tried to tell Simon to rely on himself.
But I digress, Spike is not manly. He’s been involved with lots of questionable stuff, he was sort of in James Bond-ish scenarios and he’s had his share of adventures. And yes, he did have manly moments, such as when he went to fight the lobster. But manliness suggests doing something in the face of overwhelming odds. Manliness suggest doing what one thinks is right or moral, despite what others may say. Heck, manliness can even simply be doing something genuinely impressive. None of which, Spike has done (on a regular enough basis to be considered a lifestyle).
Sure, Spike’s ran afoul of the mafia, but it’s not like he’s a vigilante or anything. He’s fought and survived against some mighty tough characters, and yes, those things required guts, but again, it’s not a lifestyle thing. Like most people, he just has an urge to not die. The fact that he has a higher survivability rate than your typical nameless mook, doesn’t actually mean he’s more manly than them. It just means they’re more expendable, story wise.
So to sum this point up, Spike has his moments, but he isn’t a MANLY MAN’s MAN because that’s a lifestyle that simply does not fit his character. If Spike were truly MANLY, he wouldn’t be Spike. Spike’s cool precisely because he’s a laid back rogue who is capable of not being a wuss. To make him manly or ultra-cool is to make him UNcool.
Then we have the idea that Spike is a badass because he knows kung fu. Well, he knows Jeet Kun Do, I guess we can sorta pretend that’s a martial art/kung fu (ohoho).
I never saw this, personally. He uses JKD to take out some mooks, sure. But that’s not exactly a feat that’s exceptional in the world of fiction. Beyond that, he doesn’t really do anything to suggest that he’s some martial arts master. Yeah, he’s a good fighter. He’s probably mixed the stuff he’s learned from training with real world practicality and experience. But see, much like manliness, Spike isn’t a badass because he can win a fist fight. He’s badass (as a character) because he’s a LOSER. If Spike had to fight an in-universe middle or top-tier pro fighter, he would lose. If Spike had to fight a hardened criminal/soldier with plenty of training and experience, he would (usually) lose.
And what peeps don’t get is, that is PERFECTLY FINE. Spike is not Cobra. He CAN lose. And that doesn’t take anything away from him as a character. That doesn’t mean he’s any less of a fighter, but he’s NOT a top-tier fighter. He’s probably only upper low tier, or lower middle tier. He can get his ass handed to him against roided up junkies and round penguin people. Is he a great fighter? Maybe. But he is NOT a top-tier fighter, and Jeet Kun Do is NOT the bestest martial art simply because Bruce Lee developed it.
Final point, is Spike Spiegel the Chuck Norris of the anime world? In a word, yes.
Yeah, I’m totally trolling Landon by suggesting that Spike is Chuck.
So yeah, Spike’s overrated, but only in terms of his abilities. As a character, he’s actually pretty darn awesome. And it is precisely because of that, that he’s been artificially elevated into a Gary Stu. People want awesome characters to have awesome stats, resulting in BatGod syndrome.
Spike Spiegel does not need to be Gary Stu. Spike Spiegel needs to be Spike Spiegel. Let Spike be Spike, and not laaaaaaaaaaame!