You can’t mistake the look, the sound, and the story behind one of the best anime’s ever made… Cowboy Bebop! And, to my own shame (hanging my head low), I never watched it before… until now. When I heard they were making a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop, I knew I needed to watch the original. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the series, I knew the backstories of some of the characters, but I never really watched an entire episode. Now that I’ve binged on it, I wondered “WHAT THE HELL, ARE YOU STUPID? WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG?”
This is an amazing show, in more ways than one. You can’t deny the dark colors in the animation, the fluid fight scenes, great character development throughout the series, and the music. Oh my God, I love the music. It is some of the best music in anime with an infectious blues, jazz beat that you just can’t stop. This anime combines sci-fi and gangster genres with a western flare better than any “spaghetti western” or “space opera” could.
Set in the year 2071, the series follows the bounty hunters of the spaceship Bebop as they travel the solar system, catching crooks for cash, as it were. The crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP (Inter Solar System Police) officer. They are joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist; Edward Wong, an eccentric girl skilled in hacking; and Ein, a genetically-engineered Pembroke Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.
Beyond the various stories of the crew and the criminals they hunt down, the main story arc of the series focuses on Spike and his deadly rivalry with Vicious, an ambitious criminal affiliated with the Red Dragon Syndicate. It is this story line that takes us through the entire series, and what makes it so interesting. The relationship these two had as former partners in the syndicate, the woman they both loved, and the fight that ensues between them.
To me, this is a great “starter” series for those new to anime. It brings in the “fantasy” element you expect from anime, but still has the gritty realism of a drama series. That’s what makes Cowboy Bebop so great. That realism brings you into this dark, futuristic world where the vices of today still plague society. It really hits you right from Episode 1 (or sessions as they’re known) when the targets being chased down by Spike head into a police blockade. The woman kills her psycho boyfriend, then herself, instead of falling into police custody. The blood spatter over the inside of the cockpit of their spaceship really hits it home.
Cowboy Bebop is the penultimate of what an anime should be. It’s funny, romantic, action-packed, and more. This anime makes you want to see more. It’s a shame they ended it after 26 episodes. The live action series will be an interesting take on the anime. It has been reported that John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda and Alex Hassell have all been cast in lead roles as Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine and Vicious respectfully. Unlike other “live-action” versions of animes, there is hope that this version will be faithful to the series. We can only hope.
But that doesn’t matter. Don’t waste time like I did. WATCH THIS SERIES NOW! It’s worth the weekend binge, I guarantee it!
Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.