“In the year 2071, humanity has colonized several of the planets and moons of the solar system leaving the now uninhabitable surface of planet Earth behind. The Inter Solar System Police attempts to keep peace in the galaxy, aided in part by outlaw bounty hunters, referred to as “Cowboys.” The ragtag team aboard the spaceship Bebop are two such individuals.
Mellow and carefree Spike Spiegel is balanced by his boisterous, pragmatic partner Jet Black as the pair makes a living chasing bounties and collecting rewards. Thrown off course by the addition of new members that they meet in their travels—Ein, a genetically engineered, highly intelligent Welsh Corgi; femme fatale Faye Valentine, an enigmatic trickster with memory loss; and the strange computer whiz kid Edward Wong—the crew embarks on thrilling adventures that unravel each member’s dark and mysterious past little by little.
Well-balanced with high density action and light-hearted comedy, Cowboy Bebop is a space Western classic and an homage to the smooth and improvised music it is named after.” – MAL Synopsis
Where do I even begin? Cowboy Bebop has been highly touted as one of, if not, the greatest anime ever for decades now. So of course I would eventually have to watch it. I’ll admit, I’ve tried watching this anime multiple times throughout the years and I could never get past the first two episodes. A mixture of me always picking a bad time to watch it, and kind of sort of thinking it’s over-hyped. The first two episodes could never grab a younger me and engage me in the show. Now I sit here in my chair, very late at night. Left with a flurry of emotions and thoughts on the show, that ultimately culminates in one thing. I just watched a masterpiece.
Alright so boom, I love space. I love the idea of cowboys and bounty hunters (thanks to Red Dead). And I love a good show that can weave self-contained episodes with plot-progressing ones. While also still developing the main cast and their relationships and pasts. In those said self-contained episodes. This show is amazing at that. You’ll have a string of episodes with the crew just going after bounties. Then you’ll get one or two that dig deep into a certain character (or the whole crew) and progress their storyline. This amines plot boils down to a ragtag group chasing bounties throughout the solar system, all-the-while growing as friends and having personal growth. When I say it like that, it may come off as simple. But in honesty it is. That’s what makes it so great. That formula opens up so many possibilities. And the direction that the show took with those possibilities was amazing every single time.
The main cast is on my MT. Rushmore of anime crews. Their chemistry with each other is amazing. It felt very real. They all have their complexities and when those more character-focused episodes come about, I love when they explore that aspect of them. We have Spike the cool guy of the group. His character and the character design are awesome. For the most part, he’s a cool and calm head. His character arc is my second favorite. The episodes exploring his deadly past are the best. He’s a wisecracker and his comedic timing is always on point. His story arc is one that we follow a lot. The main villain (he’s only antagonistic to spike) has a cool design and background. But comes off as really edgy. Jet is the pilot of the crew and acts like that father or big brother role to the rest of them. Faye is my favorite character in this show and she also has my favorite character arc. All of these characters felt real and are very well written don’t get me wrong. But Faye was so complex and felt like someone we all know. She’s sexy, erratic, and has a smart mouth. But her emotions and fears are really deep. Her actions reflect those emotions perfectly. Her back and forth with anybody in the show was always fun as well. Edward joins the crew about halfway through the show and I loved her. Her childish glee and humor added an element to the crew that I didn’t know I needed until I got it. She just wanders around and does whatever, all while making hilarious comments on any subject. Her skillset as a hacker is visualized in a cool way. And her relationship with Ein and Faye was wholesome. Her English voice actor brings so much to this character. It was a perfect fit. The last member of the crew (but the 3rd to join) is Ein. This cast of characters is wonderful. I truly didn’t understand how much I loved this group until the last 3 episodes. Those episodes put it all in perspective for me.
I need to know what these animators were eating for breakfast in the 90s and early 2000s. Cause man, yet again this show is animated to perfection. The backgrounds are great, the character movements are fluid. The fight scene choreography is top-notch. The different planets are visually appealing and the space fights are awesome. Soundtrack-wise, this show has a brilliant use of various types of music. Jazz is used most frequently and its chefs kiss. The intro is a groovy jazz beat. While the outro is a sort of somber Japanese rock song. There are some scenes in this show that will forever be in my mind due to the beautiful visuals and use of music. And also some scenes make brilliant use of no music at all, to heighten the moment. I’d be lying if I said most of these episodes weren’t movie quality. They even make use of the widescreen with black bars like an actual movie. The consistently high quality is insane for a 26 episode series.
I’m glad in the end I had to eat my words when it came to this show possibly being overrated. For all the hype and praise this show gets. I’m very surprised and happy, that not only does Cowboy Bebop live up to the hype but it might be even better than all the praise it gets. I haven’t watched anything that combines the space western genre, with a crew who’s all different but alike in certain ways. Added to that, the consistent movie-like quality for 26 episodes, with a stellar soundtrack. And quite frankly, while it would be great, I don’t think I’ll see another anime like this. Cowboy Bebop is a masterpiece.
Cowboy Bebop – 10/10