Follow interstellar bounty hunters Spike Spiegel and Jet Black as they scour the galaxy for criminals with prices on their heads. Hoping to escape their past, they live on the spaceship Bebop, but it’s a dangerous business and old enemies don’t forget easily. Allies come from unlikely sources, however, as they find comrades in the beautiful swindler Faye Valentine, the genius child hacker Ed and the genetically engineered ‘data dog’ Ein. Will they be able to help each other though their respective struggles, or is their fate really inevitable?
Unless you’re pretty new to the anime community I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of Cowboy Bebop. It’s one of the poster children for the anime community and, for many, it’s their introduction to anime. I remember seeing Cowboy Bebop on Toonami after coming home from school back in the day but since it was so long ago I had to re-watch it to do a proper review and man am I glad I did. It brought back so many memories of when I watched anime but didn’t know that what I was watching was an anime. Anyways enough of my reminiscing let’s start the review in earnest. Cowboy Bebop has a story that’s laid out in an episodic format with a recurring villain that appears a handful of times throughout the series to give it some consistency. The main theme that I found when watching Cowboy Bebop is that sooner or later you’re past will catch up to you and you will have to decide whether or not to face it or to keep trying to run away. With a heavy theme like that you can bet that there is plenty of drama to go around as each character gets a chance to make that choice when they are faced with it. In fact Cowboy Bebop is labeled as a space drama and I’d say that’s a very fitting label. There’s also plenty of action to be had as well. There are tons of gunfights and martial arts battles to keep any action lover sated. Cowboy Bebop manages to be rather funny as well. The humor is timed perfectly to break up the intense moments and is actually funny. The story of Cowboy Bebop is very character focused which I’ll touch on in the character section. I found the ending to be a tad cryptic but at the same time it really seemed to fit the premise of the show. Much like Samurai Champloo I would think that I would’ve been upset with the ending but surprisingly I wasn’t. I just feel like Cowboy Bebop really is a complete package in a story sense and just brings something for everyone. It’s no surprise that it’s praised as one of the best animes ever made.
What do you get when you put 4 (5 if you count Ein) characters that are all so alike that they’re polar opposites? You get a great cast of characters that mesh well together almost to the point of perfection. I said earlier that Cowboy Bebop is a character focused story and I’d like to expand on that here for a minute. Each character has a past that they either have to remember or that they try to forget. With the case of the main character, Spike Spiegel, it’s more of the latter. Spike had a run in with a syndicate in his past and it also involved a woman that he really loved. It has haunted ever since and throughout the show we get little pieces of this past and it all comes to a head in the final episode. Spike’s past is the one that the story mainly focuses on but the other character have their own time in the spotlight. Jet runs into old friends and flames alike from his days as a detective throughout the series and we slowly learn why he is a bounty hunter now. Faye has a very unique past in the fact that she doesn’t really remember it and as the show goes on it feels like as we learn who she is as she does. They don’t really focus on Edward a whole lot but she does get some attention for a couple of episodes. Now a little bit about the characters themselves. Spike is the nice and easy going badass bounty hunter but he’s also completely clueless about a lot of things. He is a great character overall and a huge reason behind the success of the series. Jet is the more serious member of the group and acts almost like the mother figure in a sense trying to keep everyone safe and sound but also letting them be their own persons. Faye may look like a young damsel but she can fight with the best of them. She makes questionable decisions with money a lot of times and can get annoying with how she treats Spike and the rest of the crew but she’s still a good character. We don’t know much about Edward except that she is a hacker prodigy and that she is a little out there. She provides a lot of comedy and does a great job of breaking up the tension between the crew at times. I’d be remiss to forget the best character in the show: Ein. He’s a Corgi that was used to store data but becomes a pet and mascot for the Bebop crew and most of all is freaking adorable! Ein is probably the reason why I’ve loved Corgis since I was a kid.
The soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop fits like a glove. The opening song called “Tank!” by The Seatbelts is a nice bluesy jazz tune that is all instrumentals. This song is one of the most iconic songs in anime history. With a setting that Cowboy Bebop has a jazz song just feels right. It definitely sets the mood for the show and is catchy as hell to listen to. I recommend giving it a listen if you haven’t heard it yet. The ending song was “The Real Folk Blues” by The Seatbelts ft. Mai Yamane. This song was great. It’s a true blues tune through and through; from the awesome instrumentals to Mai Yamane’s amazingly powerful voice it’s just a great song. I couldn’t bring myself to skip it. There’s a reason why this soundtrack is so good; it’s done by Yoko Kanno. Along with the Ghost in the Shell soundtrack, the Cowboy Bebop soundtrack is what solidified Yoko Kanno as a legend in the anime music industry. Have I sold you on this soundtrack yet? If not, go check it out for yourself and I’m sure you’ll be hooked just like so many have.
Now when I do an older show I try to review it by not taking into consideration how old it is when possible but you know what? I don’t have to do that for the voice acting in Cowboy Bebop. I don’t care when the show would’ve been made, if they had this cast it’d be great. This was a starting point for many voice actors to get their big break but you couldn’t really tell that in the voice acting. I’ll get into the cast now. The main cast consists of: Melissa Fahn(Edward), Wendee Lee(Faye), Beau Billingslea(Jet), and Steve Blum(Spike). Melissa Fahn was fantastic as Edward and really sounded like a kid which is a good thing considering that’s what she was playing. I loved her as Sojirou in Rurouni Kenshin(My combined all time favorite anime). She delivers another fantastic performance here. Beau Billingslea delivers a spectacular performance as Jet as well. I mean he sounded exactly like how you’d expect Jet to sound in real life. It was just a spectacular performance overall. While I absolutely loved Melissa Fahn and Beau Billingslea’s performances. Wendee Lee and Steve Blum stole the show as Faye and Spike. They are two of my favorite voice actors today so getting to hear some of their earlier work again was really great. I was first introduced to Steve Blum’s voice acting in Rurouni Kenshin when he voiced Shishio. Wendee Lee has voiced some of my favorite characters including Shura from Blue Exorcist and Yorouichi in Bleach and she delivers the same quality of voice acting here. The supporting cast consists of Mary McGlynn(Julia) and Henry Grey(Vicious). While I despised the characters they played I can’t deny the quality of voice acting that these two delivered when they were on screen. In case it hasn’t been made clear yet, this is a fantastic voice cast with amazing voice acting to go along with it.
Cowboy Bebop is a classic in the anime community and after getting the chance to re-watch it I get the chance to truly appreciate why that is. It’s got a gripping story that actually feels, to an extent, relatable. I just loved everything about this show. The characters are great and their voice actors are just as great. The soundtrack is just as much a classic in the community as the show itself. If you haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop yet or if you’re like me and saw it years ago and don’t quite remember most of it I’d say check it out as soon as you can. It’s more than worth the time. There’s literally no one I wouldn’t recommend Cowboy Bebop to so with that being said I’d like to say that Cowboy Bebop earns a perfect 10/10!