is a Japanese animated television series. Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe and written by Keiko Nobumoto, Cowboy Bebop was produced by Sunrise. Consisting of 26 episodes, the series follows the adventures of a group of bounty hunters traveling on their spaceship, the Bebop, in the year 2071.
Cowboy Bebop was a commercial success both in Japan and international markets, notably in the United States. After this reception, Sony Pictures released a feature film, Knockin' on Heaven's Door to theaters worldwide and followed up with an international DVD release. Two manga adaptations were serialized in Kadokawa Shoten's Asuka Fantasy DX.
Cowboy Bebop has been strongly influenced by American music, especially the jazz movements of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s and the early rock era of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s. Many of its action sequences, from space battles to hand-to-hand martial arts combat, are set and timed to music. Following the musical theme, episodes are called Sessions, and the episode titles are often borrowed from album or song names ("Sympathy for the Devil", "Honky Tonk Women", or "My Funny Valentine" to name a few), or make use of a genre name ("Mushroom Samba" or "Heavy Metal Queen") indicating a given episode's musical theme.
In the year 2071 AD, the crew of the spaceship Bebop travel the solar system trying to apprehend bounties. Nation-states have collapsed, and various races and peoples live throughout the solar system. In the slang of the era, "Cowboys" are bounty hunters. Most episodes revolve around a specific bounty, but the show often shares its focus with the pasts of each of the four main characters and of more general past events, which are revealed and brought together as the series progresses.
Many of Mars's impact craters were domed and transformed into thriving metropolitan areas for those who could afford to live there. Venus was terraformed, with oxygen provided by a species of oxygen-producing plants floating in the atmosphere. This is not a perfect process, however, since the spores of these plants cause “Venus Sickness” in some people. This condition, left untreated, may lead to blindness or death, and proper treatment is expensive. Many moons of Jupiter, such as Callisto, Io, Europa, and Ganymede, have been terraformed and colonized with varying degrees of success. Callisto is a cold, almost-inhospitable moon (with the entirely male city, Blue Crow). Meanwhile, Ganymede is almost completely covered by water and is known for its declining fishing industry. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a barren desert world whose population has been at war since the 2060s. The Titan War II in 2068 was survived by veterans such as the characters Vicious, Gren, Vincent, and Electra. There is a Solar System Penitentiary on Pluto, and certain asteroids (such as Tijuana, the asteroid colony seen in the first episode) have been colonized for their minerals and other natural resources.
After the advent of space travel, the bounty system of the Old West was reinstated by the government to help curb growing crime levels. Bounty hunters are encouraged to capture criminals and return them (alive and relatively unharmed) to the authorities for monetary rewards, in part through a regular television broadcast of "Big Shot", a bounty-hunter news program featuring a heavily-accented Mexican named Punch and a perky blonde named Judy (a reference to the puppets of the same name). In addition, ruthless crime syndicates have large influence in the Solar System, indulging in such fields as bribery, murder, extortion, drug dealing, money laundering and other criminal offenses. The Woolong is the universal currency, and paper money is less common since more people carry convenient money cards and rely on digital transfers.
The technology in the world of Cowboy Bebop has undergone advances to accommodate 21st century life in the Solar System. Medical advancements such as artificial organs, organ regrowth and cryogenic freezing have been mastered and are in full use. Hardware called the “Alpha Catch” provides a mind-machine interface for capturing or projecting video from memories. Virtual reality gaming is standard, and analog hardware such as videocassettes (VHS or beta) can only be found as antiques. Finally, World Wide Web has evolved into a massive Solar System Web (SSW). With these technological advancements also came a new breed of hackers, known as "Net Divers" in slang.
Space travel is made relatively easy, but artificial gravity is still limited to centrifugal force. Some directed energy weapons have also been built, but ballistic and explosive weapons are principally used. In addition to that many gun models present today are widely used in the series.
The series features a crew of distinct main characters. The first two introduced in the series are Spike Spiegel and Jet Black. The two pilot their former fishing trawler spaceship, the Bebop, and work as bounty hunters. As the series progresses, more characters are introduced and become members of the Bebop crew.
Antagonists include a variety of bounties that the crew hunt to collect funding, including Faye. Although the Bebop crew is typically broke, its members manage to keep themselves afloat financially by capturing the occasional bounty-head.
Spike Spiegel is a former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate who is haunted by the memory of his time in the organization, namely his romantic relationship with a mysterious woman named Julia, and his former syndicate partner, Vicious.
Jet Black, a former Inter-Solar System Police (ISSP) officer and the owner of the Bebop. Once called "The Black Dog" by his fellow officers for his relentless nature, he bears a cybernetic arm as constant reminder of what happened when he rushed into trouble without looking first. Like Spike, he is haunted by the memory of a woman: Alisa, his longtime girlfriend who left him without notice.
Ein, a Welsh Corgi and former lab animal identified as a "data dog" by the scientists who created him. The reason for this title is never explained, but it is suggested that he possesses enhanced intelligence, which he displays in subtle ways throughout the series. Despite his enhanced intelligence and comprehension, the rest of the Bebop crew typically fail to notice these qualities.
Faye Valentine, an amnesiac awakened from a 54-year cryogenic slumber after being injured. She is tricked into assuming the debt of the man that woke her, and constantly attempts to gamble on quick cash as a solution to her debt. Her past and her real name are a mystery as the name "Valentine" was given to her by a doctor. Her history is unraveled progressively throughout the series.
Edward, a young, eccentric computer genius and master hacker. Though she is a girl, there is a popular confusion as to Ed's gender due to her name and androgynous appearance. She gave herself the long and fanciful name "Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV" after running away to an orphanage, but after her father is found it is revealed later on that her real name is Françoise Appledelhi. She goes by the name Radical Edward when hacking, and commonly spends the most time with Ein.
Vicious, Spike's former syndicate partner and the only recurring antagonist of the series. He is seen in several episodes grabbing for power within the organization by killing members of the organizations leadership. His relationship with Spike and Julia is displayed through flashbacks that Spike experiences, but never explained in detail.
Julia, a beautiful and mysterious woman from both Spike and Vicious' pasts. Despite being among the main driving points for the entire series, Julia only appears in flashbacks until the final two episodes of the series. She acts as a stark contrast to the world around her—her blond hair, bright red umbrella and automobile stand out in the otherwise drab environments that she inhabits.
Later that year, the series was shown in its entirety from October 23 until April 23, 1999, on the satellite network WOWOW. With the TV Tokyo broadcast slot fiasco, the production schedule was disrupted to the extent that the last episode was delivered to WOWOW on the day of its broadcast. Cowboy Bebop won the Seiun Award in 2000.
The full series has also been broadcast across Japan by the anime television network, Animax, who has also aired the series via its respective networks across Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia. Cowboy Bebop was popular enough that the movie, Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira (Knockin' on Heaven's Door), was commissioned and released in Japan in 2001, and later released in the United States as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in 2003.
In a 2006 poll by TV Asahi, Cowboy Bebop was voted 40th for Japan's all-time favorite anime.
In the U.S., Cartoon Network has regularly rotated Cowboy Bebop in and out of its Adult Swim block line-up several times. The network has also moved Cowboy Bebop out of its anime lineup periodically in order to show other anime features such as Read or Die and Blue Gender.
T.H.E.M Anime Reviews say the series has "sophistication and subtlety that is practically one-of-a-kind" and that "puts most anime...and Hollywood, to shame.
Tim Jensen produced lyrics on some songs:
On July 22, 2008, IF Magazine published an article on its website regarding a rumor of a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie that is in development by 20th Century Fox. Producer Erwin Stoff said that the film's development was in the early stages, and that they had "just signed it." Keanu Reeves is being rumored to play Spike Spiegel.