Cowboy Bebop is among the greatest anime ever produced. It defined a new form of anime and is one of the best series to show to your friends to get them into anime.
The series originally ran from April 3, 1998 to April 23, 1999 in Japan and consists of 26 episodes or sessions as they called. It was also followed by a movie in 2001 that takes place after the events of the series but does not not require knowledge of the series to enjoy. (I watched the movie first).
editor's note: It takes place near the end of the series ep 22/23 area.
The soundtrack of Cowboy Bebop is heavily influenced by the jazz music of the 40's, 50's and 60's as well as the early rock era of the 50's, 60's and 70's.
Much like the TV series Firefly the science fiction of the show is only a backdrop to the interaction between the characters.
So, what is Cowboy Bebop all about? In the Bebop universe bounty hunters are called cowboys and the series begins with Spike and Jet on the starship Bebop. they travel the solar system in search of bounties. As the series progresses a few more main characters are added to the mix. Even though most episodes focus on a particular bounty that is not the focus of the show.
There is an over-plot that flows through the series and comes up in various episodes. This plot involves the past of all of the characters on the show. A DVD set was released a few years ago that only contains these "core" episodes and allows for a condensed watching of the series.
- Spike Spiegal is a freelance bounty hunter who is very good with a gun and a hand-to-hand martial arts expert. He is also an excellent pilot. Spike begins the show already on the Bebop as Jet's partner.
- Jet Black is a sort of father figure on the Bebop (which he owns). Even though he owns the ship he is far from in control of those he works with. He has the most balanced personality of all of the characters who reside on the Bebop and he can often be found tending to his bonsai garden.
- Faye Valentine is also a freelance bounty hunter but she did not become part of the crew until several episodes into the series. She is a hot head and a gambler and finds herself having to chase bounties (sometimes out from under Spike and Jet) to pay off her substantial debts.
- Ein is a Welsh Corgi who is also a "data dog". Though they never go into what exactly a data dog is we know that he is an extremely intelligent dog.
- Ed (Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV) is a strange young girl that serves as the hacker among the crew. The issue of her gender is often confusing as she acts like a boy but also like a girl. She is an extremely talented hacker and a bit of a mad genius. She often provides comic relief in the series.
The Bebop Universe
Cowboy Bebop takes place in the year 2071 in a solar system where Earth is no longer the center of human life. Due to a gate accident that occurred in the vicinity of Earth the Moon was cracked and debris now rains down on the Earth constantly. Because of this those who do live on Earth live underground.
Many of the other planets (and moons) in the solar system have been terraformed (to a degree) and humans now live al over the solar system. Interplanetary travel is facilitated by the existing gate system so that traveling between the planets does not take an inordinate amount of time.
Because the ISSP (Inter-Solar System Police) is not able to be everywhere the system of bounties has been brought back. Bounty hunters, or cowboys, earn the bounty by bringing back criminals alive and unharmed. A dead criminal is not worth anything.
The series has been shown (and translated) in many countries around the world. It has aired in Japan, North America, South America and Europe. It is readily available as a box set of DVDs and you can get it from many video rental services.
If you are interested in getting into anime and you enjoyed the series Firefly or film-noir series than you will likely enjoy this one two. There are scenes of sex and violence so this is not one for the kiddies. It is not something that can not be aired on television though as it was.