Cowboy Bebop is one of the most classic and influential cult favorites in all of anime. It’s not just another title, it’s a phenomenon, a piece of our history now which came out right when anime was finally getting some proper footing in Western media, breaking the trail for many titles which have followed since. It is, in many ways, an example of the medium at its greatest peak. May it never be forgotten. 🙂
Heh, seriously, this show is great.
Following the crew of the titular ship, The Bebop, this show chronicles the episodic adventures of Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, Edward Wong, and Ein. Spike is probably the single coolest character in all of anime, Faye may well be the sexiest woman in anime (a very fierce competition), Jet is a magnificently strong character, while Ed and Ein are goofy and adorable geniuses. Together, they hunt elusive, notorious bounties throughout the solar system, battle dangerous criminals, and fight to survive despite consistently terrible luck.
The show successfully blends science fiction with gritty realism, balancing witty humor and the violence of hard-boiled noir tragedies, discussing human nature and failed dreams, all to beautiful animation, music, and voice acting.
(bit of trivia: Ed is apparently based on the behavior of the show’s famous soundtrack composer, Yoko Kanno)
I say again: fantastic.
It’s very episodic in nature, a point for and against it, as most of the stories it tells exist entirely independent of one another, but there remain traces of an overall plot that builds to a heart-breaking crescendo. Twice. It’s not for the faint of heart, or the younger members of the audience, as vivid, graphic, and emotionally gripping as it is, yet it remains fun and largely satisfying. A part of me always hates stories with so much death, yet they’re so often absolutely compelling and meaningful, none more so than Cowboy Bebop.
Did I mention “fantastic?” 😉
The heroes are fun, the villains are twisted, nasty, and vicious (the pun had to be made), the many characters we meet are human, and therefore what happens to them always carries some weight, even if one can predict fairly awful things happening to the majority of them after awhile. This is not a “happy” story, after all.
Should you watch it if you want a warm and fuzzy love story? No. How about a happily-ever-after fantasy? No. A child-friendly comedy? Nope. This is nothing so gentle as any of those. It has a lot of tragedy, and so a number of episodes can be downright depressing, eerie, even unsettling. While this, combined with its episodic nature, can make it feel a bit long at times, it treats its subject matter with due gravity. It takes loss seriously, and so it has an undeniable emotional impact.
One could make a surprisingly reasonable argument that, for anything ill which might be said of it, Cowboy Bebop may be the single greatest anime ever made. It’s certainly a masterpiece.
Rating: 10 out of 10.