Cowboy Bebop is the classic that lives up to the hype.Subscribe to Anime Reviews
If you haven’t watched Cowboy Bebop, you probably have at least heard of it. The show has a cult following that sings its praises. If you ask someone for a show suggestion, it’s bound to come up.
The anime also celebrated it’s 20th anniversary on April 6, 2018, so there’s been quite a bit of buzz in the media, too.
WHAT’S COWBOY BEBOP ABOUT?
Cowboy Bebop takes place in the year 2071. In this version of the future, most humans have chosen to leave Earth behind. They travel regularly through interdimensional gateways using their personal space crafts. The only people who live on Earth are poor.
It’s implied that, long ago, the rich moved to Mars. From there, they continued to colonize the galaxy, leaving those who couldn’t afford it grounded on Earth.
The main character of the show, Spike Spiegal, is a human who was born on Mars. Not much is known about his upbringing. But as you watch the show you’ll learn all about his rocky past and how he ended up as a bounty hunter – referred to as a cowboy.
Spike travels with his pal Jet Black (a man who’s backstory is as dark as his name). Soon they are joined by the femme fatale Faye Valentine, a super Corgi named Ein, and kid-genius Ed Wong.
FUN FACT: Ed Wong is introduced as a boy in the beginning of the series. Later, the writers change him to a girl. It is never adressed. Everyone just changes Ed’s pronouns and Ed takes an interest in more girly activities.
They travel the galaxy as a makeshift family and team, each of them having no one but each other. The show switches between heavy backstories and light-hearted misadventures.
Each episode is driven by music, mostly jazz. This music is arguably even more iconic than the characters and one of the reasons fans love this show so much.
While many animes have signature songs, the music-driven plots of Cowboy Bebop set it apart.
WHAT MAKES COWBOY BEBOP SUCH A GREAT ANIME
Everyone has their own reason they love anime. Some people stick to genres, others dabble. Some like action, others romance.
Then there’s those like me who love anime for three main reasons:
Cowboy Bebop has these three elements in spades.
Some people say the story starts off slow. I disagree.
Many modern animes like to punch you in the face with action. They may start in the middle of a crisis and jump back to the beginning.
Cowboy Bebop is more like a gentleman when it comes to world building. It opens the door for you and allows you to walk into the world yourself. It flirts with you and asks
“Do you want to know more?”
If you answer yes, you click forward to the next episode and the show’s true colors shine through.
The storytelling has an elegance to it. You can tell the writers thought more about creating art than making money. (Luckily they were able to do both.)
The writers don’t rely on flashback episodes and never lay all the information on your lap. Instead, they let you walk through the characters’ lives naturally. It’s as if you really are the fourth wall.
You learn as they learn.
In a way, you become the non-present sixth member of the group.
Following the classic format, this anime is only 26 episodes long.
At times it feels like you’re watching a sitcom of sorts. Others, you’re knee deep in an old detective or gangster movie.
As you watch, you’re bound to have many questions and, if you’re patient, they will be answered.
Unlike many animes that are only 26 episodes, the writers were kind enough to tie a bow on this story. You may have a lot of questions and they may not all be answered but, by the end of it, you will have a resolution.
Each character’s story is carefully nursed up until the final showdown. If someone wanted to learn how to write characters with depth, they should watch this show.
Spike Spiegal is the main protagonist of the story and the coolest cat around.
He is a former gang member who now makes honest work as a cowboy (bounty hunter).
Spike is trying to leave his past behind, but his past just won’t let him go.
Anytime he hears the name Julia, his easygoing mannerisms disappear.
And a rival from his days as a gang member, Vicious, won’t leave him alone.
His is a story filled with pain, fear, love lost, and loss of self.
Jet Black is Spike’s cowboy buddy and a former cop.
Jet acts mainly as the brains of their operation while Spike is the brawn. He also serves as the chef of the crew.
Don’t let his big frame fool you, Jet is a softy with a heart of gold. He may not always do right, but he means well. Just wait until you get to his backstory’s arc.
Hint: You might get a little ticked off. Or a little sad. Or both. Depends on what kind of person you are.
Faye Valentine. A fox. A vixen.
A woman who had to fend for her own, she’s cunning and can’t be ignored.
Faye was originally captured by Jet and Spike as a bounty. She escaped, stealing one of their emergency air crafts.
Later, she runs into the boys again and muscles her way into the cowboy crew.
Faye has the most interesting and tragic backstory out of all the main cast. While each character carries a dark secret or an unfortunate past, Faye is the only character whose story broke my heart.
Faye became a con-artist in order to survive after having everything taken away from her. At some point in life, we all look down at a hand we’ve been dealt and have to make it work. A character like Faye highlights this.
Everything was completely out of her control. She had to deal with the consequences of other peoples’ decisions.
She’s a strong woman who holds back her tears as much as she can. I just wanted to hug her and cry for her.
Ed Wong is the youngest of the crew.
The other three humans are technologically illiterate.
That’s where Ed comes in.
Ed joins the gang after using her smarts to solve the mystery of a signal being sent from a presumably-dead satellite.
Her backstory is a little strange. Then again, so is Ed. It’s no tearjerker so you’ll be able to give your heart a break.
Ein is a genetically-modified corgi known as a “data dog.”
Spike was trying to catch the thief who stole the dog and, in a massive turn of events, ended up with a new pet.
Unfortunately, Spike hates animals. (Though Ein seems to love Spike.) Soon, Ein becomes good friends with Ed. The puppy even chooses to stay with Ed when the story wraps up.
Though he doesn’t move the story along much, Ein is the mascot of Cowboy Bebop and therefore has earned these paragraphs about him. You can’t google Cowboy Bebop without seeing a pic of Ein.
This show it the epitome of artistry.
And, of course, the artwork.
The anime was written in a time where animations were hand-drawn. Therefore, art was a bit more detailed than what we get today.
The scenery, the shading, the distinguished faces. It was all beautiful.
Case and point: this scene from Season 1, Episode 5:
“Ballad of the Fallen Angels.”
And that’s just one scene. The entire anime is chalk full of these animated masterpieces.
Cowboy Bebop is an animated masterpiece.
Cowboy Bebop is for those who appreciate classic storytelling. Anyone who wants to get into anime should start with a classic like this.=
See You Space Cowboy
(You’ll understand that after you watch the show.)Subscribe to Get Anime Reviews