Cowboy Bebop is a 26-episode anime produced by Studio Sunrise in 1998, created by the widely acclaimed director Shinichiro Watanabe. A manga written by Hajime Yatate and illustrated by Yutaka Nanten was released in the same year titles Cowboy Bebop Shooting Star and a movie followed them in 2001 created by Hajime Yatate, titled Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. This review will be concerning the animated series only.
Cowboy Bebop is set in a near futuristic universe, in the year 2071, where humanity has already colonized many planets due to the Earth becoming inhabitable. A set accentuated by the high tech machinery we witness throughout the series. The general theme however, is the Wild West. Hence the title, Cowboy Bebop, which shows both the Japanese admiration with western culture at the time, and their penchant for marrying the past with the future. A penchant manifested majorly in the late 80s, 90s and early 2000s. The episodic series follows the whereabouts and adventures of the bounty hunters group. Formed of the kick ass ex-hitman Spike Spiegel, ex-cop bulky and grim Jet Black, the amnesiac con artist, and oh so sexy Faye Valentine, a weird yet energetic and mischievous hacker Edward Wong, and last but certainly not least, Ein the genetically modified breed doggo, with its lil’ cute legs and its quite intelligent behavior. I must accentuate on the fact that you do not skip Ein, as it’s as important as any the rest of the crew. They navigate the Milky Way on their state of the art 90s spaceship, the Bebop, in a period where crime is spread throughout the galaxy in a way that makes it difficult for the authorities to contain it. Thus the necessity of bounty hunters.
Now let’s talk Bebop, from episode one, you’re hooked by the charm and cunning of Spike as a really skilled playboy, with his cigarettes, outfit, and hair, you can’t help but get hypnotized by Him. He’s skilled at close combat, an excellent shooter, and quite the handy man (you’ll get what I mean when you watch). He’s helped by the body-enhanced baldy kickass-bearded mechanic, ex-cop and owner of the Bebop, Jet Black and Ein, the dog you will most likely wish you had one like. Bounty-hunting their way out of their gradually-revealed slowly-catching-up pasts they encounter the charming and sassy but equally lethal Faye Valentine; A con artist and bounty hunter. In contrast with Spike and Jet, Faye is trying to remember her past. Even though she’s wary of everyone, she, nonetheless, can’t help developing a bond with the bunch. They later stumble upon the gifted skilled hacker and equally eccentric kid Edward Wong. The series’ atmosphere is mainly melancholic, making you nostalgic for times you might’ve not lived but long for. It is a soup of condensed feelings, from amusement and excitement to tragedy and emptiness, flavored by bits of marvelous details I am desperately trying not to spoil. Truly the devil is in the details and the end is like the cherry on the cake. It is a perfect conclusion of such a great series and its ultimate peak.
The whole series is served with more than a satisfactory collection of music. You cruise your way through space with the crew on the melodies of the outstanding unparalleled soundtracks, composed by the genius Yoko Kanno and played by her and The Seatbelts. A Japanese orchestral band formed personally by her, specifically for the anime’s soundtrack composition. Spiced with a different vocal forevery OST, making each soundtrack uniquely eargasmic in its own right. I cannot stress enough on the influence of music in Cowboy Bebop. Especially the Bebop Jazz, thus the title Cowboy Bebop, in addition to Big Band Jazz, Blues, Waltz, Heavy Metal, Hard Bop and other equally mesmerizing legacy genres. The soundtracks were later released as a set of albums. To introduce you to the music of Cowboy Bebop, an excellent recommendation would be the ending theme full song, The Real Folk Blues, composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by her and The Seatbelts and featuring vocal by Mai Yamane. It is truly a masterpiece for the ear. In conclusion, Cowboy Bebop is a classic anime masterpiece and undeniably an overall outstanding production regardless of genre, making it ranked in 30th position in the top rated IMDB list of best shows of all time, and if you doubt that, be my guest and judge for yourself, and I guarantee it will be an unforgettable experience.