Cowboy Bebop is a 1998 anime television series animated by Sunrise featuring a production team led by director Shinichirō Watanabe, screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, mechanical designer Kimitoshi Yamane, and composer Yoko Kanno. The twenty-six episodes (“sessions”) of the series are set in the year 2071, and follow the lives of a bounty hunter crew traveling on the Bebop (their spaceship). Cowboy Bebop explores philosophical concepts including existentialism, existential ennui, and loneliness.
The series premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo from April 3 until June 26, 1998, broadcasting only twelve episodes and a special due to its controversial adult-themed content. The entire twenty-six episodes of the series were later broadcast on WOWOW from October 24 until April 24, 1999. The anime was adapted into two manga series which were serialized in Kadokawa Shoten’s Asuka Fantasy DX. A film was later released to theaters worldwide.
The anime series was dubbed in the English language by Animaze and ZRO Limit Productions, and was licensed by Bandai Entertainment in North America and is now licensed by Funimation. In Britain, it was licensed by Beez Entertainment and is now licensed by Anime Limited. Madman Entertainment has licensed it for releases in Australia and New Zealand. In 2001, Cowboy Bebop became the first anime title to be broadcast on Adult Swim in the United States.
Cowboy Bebop became a critical and commercial success both in Japanese and international markets (most notably in the United States), garnered several major anime and science fiction awards upon its release, and received universal praise for its style, characters, story, voice acting, animation, and soundtrack. In the years since its release, critics and reviewers, from the United States in particular, have hailed Cowboy Bebop as a masterpiece and frequently cite it as one of the greatest anime titles of all time. Credited with helping to introduce anime to a new wave of Western viewers in the early 2000s, Cowboy Bebop has also been labelled a gateway series for the medium as a whole.
In 2071, roughly fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway made the Earth almost uninhabitable, humanity has colonized most of the rocky planets and moons of the Solar System. Amid a rising crime rate, the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) set up a legalized contract system, in which registered bounty hunters (also referred to as “Cowboys”) chase criminals and bring them in alive in return for a reward. The series’ protagonists are bounty hunters working from the spaceship Bebop. The original crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP officer. They are later 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. Over the course of the series, the team get involved in disastrous mishaps leaving them out of pocket, while often confronting faces and events from their past: these include Jet’s reasons for leaving the ISSP, and Faye’s past as a young woman from Earth injured in an accident and cryogenically frozen to save her life.
The main story arc focuses on Spike and his deadly rivalry with Vicious, an enforcer for the Red Dragon Syndicate. Spike and Vicious were once partners and friends, but when Spike began an affair with Vicious’ girlfriend Julia and resolved to leave the Syndicate with her, Vicious attempted to have Julia kill Spike. Julia goes into hiding to protect herself and Spike, while Spike fakes his death to escape the Syndicate. In the present, Julia comes out of hiding and reunites with Spike, planning to complete their plan. Vicious, having staged a coup d’état and taken over the Syndicate, sends hitmen after the pair. Julia is killed, leaving Spike alone. His heartbreak feeds his desire to kill Vicious once and for all. Spike leaves the Bebop after saying a final goodbye to Faye and Jet. Upon infiltrating the syndicate, he finds Vicious on the top floor of the building. In a final battle, Vicious is killed and Spike severely wounded. The series ends as Spike descends the main staircase of the building into the rising sun. He falls to the ground, leaving his ultimate fate ambiguous.
This series was written to match the music for each scene so the music fits into the series very powerfully. Below are the opening and the ending theme for you to enjoy!