WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD THE IMMERSIVE WORLD OF ANIME HAS 1000S OF TITLES TO CHOOSE FROM BUT COWBOY BEBOP IS MY NUMBER ONE FAVORITE. READ ON TO SEE HOW COWBOY BEBOP SECURED ITS SPOT AS MY FAVORITE ANIME OF ALL TIME
I remember the first time I watched Cowboy Bebop. I was in Middle School and it came on late nights on Cartoon Networks Toonami. Ever since then it has been solidified as my favorite anime of all time and what’s not to love? It has every element a great anime needs: action, enriching story lines, sex appeal and a great OST. Here’s a more in depth look as to why it’s my favorite:
Cowboy Bebop doesn’t just follow one linear story: there’s the main story, a series of side stories and minimal filler (whew! Thank the Gods. Although, there was that one episode with the rotten food in the fridge…). Every episode, or Session, is a different experience and comes right for your feels. The writers mastered short storytelling flawlessly, at times managing to make you sympathize with the likes of criminals and terrorists. The sessions won’t promise you a happy ending, just the ending that it deserves. The series, which wraps in 26 episodes, introduces you to such memorable characters as:
- VT, a space traveling trucker with an ear for Heavy Metal and a grudge against bounty hunters.
- Andy Von De Oniyate, a literal space cowboy who leaves wreckage in his wake; his horse riding skills are only matched by his arrogance.
- Roco Bonnaro, a small time criminal with a heart of gold and an adoration for Spike
I dare say, I am unhappy that the series ended after Season 1. No matter how you spin it, I just had a hard time accepting the ending. I would have loved to see the crew of the Bebop successfully secure a bounty and finally earn themselves a decent meal. But if my only complaint was that I wanted more story, that’s just a testament to its greatness.
Here’s a look at MY favorite characters from the series:
Spike: The Real Space Cowboy
The g.o.a.t. The space cowboy. The smoothest cat to ever travel the galaxy. Spike Spiegel is my hero. From his green afro, mismatched colored eyes, classic blue suit and boots getup to his calm and cool demeanor, he makes a great protagonist. Spike is an insightful, nonchalant, unfiltered, cunning, skillful and wise risk-taker who wishes you would bet against him just so he can prove you wrong and then take your money (that is, if he hasn’t stolen your wallet already). The masterful pickpocket leaves his mark with everyone he meets whether that be physically or mentally. One of the first members of the Bebop crew, when we first meet Spike, he’s a down on his luck bounty hunter always managing to get the slip no matter how skilled he is at combat. One could argue that his bounties weren’t always let go by accident…As the show progresses, you get a closer look at Spike’s tragic backstory. He managed to escape from his dangerous past as an assassin for the Syndicate, a crime ring he engaged with alongside his friend turned foe Vicious (::chills:: what a cool name). He managed to escape by faking his death, leaving behind the love of his life Julia but just like all skeletons, it doesn’t stay hidden for long. Spike manages to make a name for himself across the galaxy before meeting his tragic end. But hey, at least he goes out with a “bang”.
Faye: The Honky Tonk Woman
The Honky Tonk Woman. Faye is a vivacious siren who will snatch your wallet right from under your nose and give you a black eye if you dare pursue her. A master gambler and con artist, Faye joins the Bebop crew bringing shooting, flying, conning and gun slinging skills to the duo (now trio at the time of her introduction). Someone forgot to tell her, there’s no “I” in team, however. Not only is she bad ass, but she’s the eye candy of the series; her yellow short-shorts and cropped top combo leave little to the imagination and giiiirl when she puts that red dress on ::heart eyes:: Having no recollection of her past, you can tell Faye walked through life alone. As the story progresses, she starts doing more research as to who she was, where she came from and what her life was like in her youth. She leaves the Bebop for a while only to return for what would be her last conversation with Spike Spiegel. Never the kind of girl to show worry, care or affection, you can tell she has a lot of love and respect for the Bebop crew despite their constant bickering. They’re literally the family she never had, or rather, can’t remember.
ED: The Radical Master Hacker
Boy? Girl? We’re never really told but Ed is definitely one of my favorite characters. Master androgynous genius computer hacker Radical Ed is an animated, bubbly, whimsical child that was found on Earth and is the last addition to the Bebop crew. Your girl (or boy) is so skilled, she (or he) hacks into major databases just for fun. She (or he) definitely brings the sunshine in and the touch of youthfulness is a much-needed addition to the Bebop crew. When you meet Ed she’s (or he’s) alone. You discover that Ed was left behind by a parent who literally forgot about her (or him! Even the Dad couldn’t remember!) and was taken in by an orphanage. She’s been a drifter ever since. Her wild shaggy red hair, curious light brown eyes and casual ensemble of a white tank, black biker shorts, bare feet and goggles are perfectly befitting of her. In the end with she takes off with Ein. I always wonder where they might’ve gone…
Whether you’re into hand-to-hand combat or you’re looking for a “bang-bang-shoot-em-up” Cowboy Bebop has you covered.
Spike fights in a fluid martial arts style that relies heavily on relaxation and concentration (according to cowboybebop.fandom.com/wiki/ he follows Bruce Lee’s Jeet Kune Do). He dodges blows effortlessly and manages to sneak in a “one-two” combo before you even realize what hit you. His experience working for the Syndicate as well as his Military experience, make him handy with a gun.
His partner, Jet Black, is no spring chicken either. With his police background and metallic arm, he compliments Spike with his grappling style making Jet the perfect partner for taking down bounties.
Faye brings the heat with her arsenal of gun skills. Although your girl can pack a punch, she’s more likely to stick you up or con you rather than fight you one on one.
In addition to guns blazing and hand-to-hand combat, you get some mech action with the Swordfish II and Red Tail aircrafts operated by Spike and Faye. These crafts come decked out with machine guns, pincers and missiles making for one hell of a space adventure.
“Ok 3…2…1…lets Jam!” Aww man, the music. Who doesn’t get hype after hearing the blaring horn in “TANK!”!? Music plays such a major role in this anime that even the episode titles, appropriately called sessions, are named after something music related (i.e Session # 14 Bohemian Rhapsody, Session # 9 Jamming with Edward). From fast paced jazz numbers like “Rush” to slow placed ballads like “Call Me” each song tells a story. It’ll make you sing or hum along, sway or smile, feel pleasant and at peace or have you on the edge of your seat. Seatbelts did a great job on the OST.
One of my favorite music moments in the series occurs during “Ballad of Fallen Angels”; the sweet serenading sounds of “Green Bird” by Yoko Kanno playing as Spike falls from a cathedral stained-glass window is poetic, haunting and a match made in artistry heaven. I get teary eyed just picturing it.
If you love the bits of music you’re given throughout the series, it’s worth it to track down the OST. TRUST ME!
See You Space Cowboy
As you can see, Cowboy Bebop is a well-rounded action packed, and story rich series filled with lovable characters and a dope soundtrack to boot. I can’t say that I’ve ever seen anything like it and I doubt I ever will.
What’s your opinion of Cowboy Bebop? Is it your favorite anime? If not, what is it? Let me know in the comments.
*Rumor has it that Netflix is coming out with a live action version starring John Cho as Spike. I have high hopes