Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy BebopType: TV Series
Episode Count: 26
Genre: Sci-Fi / Action / Drama
Vintage: 1998

Version reviewed: English Dubbed / Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 31 Jul 2006

Grade: A

In case you’ve been vacationing on the moon for the past decade, Cowboy Bebop is one of the most significant series to hit the American anime scene in recent years.

Plot Summary
Jet Black and Spike Spiegel are bounty hunters traveling the solar system, living bounty to bounty on Jet’s spaceship, the Bebop. Along the way, they accumulate new crew members during their endless pursuit of the source of funds for their next meal.

The Review
From a storytelling standpoint, Cowboy Bebop is a very simple series. Episodes flow chronologically, but with only a few exceptions, there is no grand story at work here. This is an episodic show, where nearly every 25-minute session (as the episodes are called) is self-contained. This is also a series where every kind of ground is covered as far as genre is concerned. There’s action, there’s science fiction, there’s drama, there’s even comedy to be found here, thanks in part to the varied cast of characters.

When the show begins, Jet Black is introduced. Jet is a former space cop who’s seen more than his fair share of action in the line of duty. His shipmate is the laid-back and somewhat sardonic Spike Spiegel, skilled in martial arts, with his own unique twist on everything. As they go from one bounty to the next, they eventually accumulate a few new crew members. Ein is a ‘data-dog’ of mysterious origin; Faye Valentine is a femme fatale with a gambling problem; Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV…. ok we’ll just call her Ed, is a bizarre 13-year-old girl who knows everything about everything where computers and technology are concerned. Put them all on one ship, and that’s a recipe for the unpredictable.

As I mentioned, each episode is fairly self-contained and focuses on the capturing of a bounty, and occasionally some other kind of adventure (or misadventure). There is a bit of a theme running under it all, though. Each character has a story they bring with them that the others do not know. Along with the bounties, this is a show with characters trying to come to terms with their pasts. This is a series where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

And by the way, the jazz-influenced score for Cowboy Bebop is provided by the ever amazing Yoko Kanno.

If you are new to anime, or need a good recommendation to give to somebody new to anime a representative example of the medium, Cowboy Bebop should be one of your first choices.


One response to “Cowboy Bebop

  1. One of the few anime series where the dub is as good as the sub. Beau Billingslea is flawless as Jet Black as is Steve Blum’s Spike. Wendee Lee turns in a better than usual performance as Faye, but go with the sub if you want to hear Megumi Hayashibara do it right.

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