Second Union

Second Union

REWIND: Cowboy Bebop (1998) – Anime Review

Ed plays against a chess master while Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ein watch on in “Bohemian Rhapsody”.

Cowboy Bebop is a 1998 anime series that follows a group of bounty hunters named Spike, Faye, Jet, and Ed, as well as a Welsh Corgi named Ein. It takes place in the year 2071, and while the four don’t always get along, they do always get the job done. This is a show that has a new plot (and bounty) every episode, but there is a backstory to each character and a recurring plot involving Spike’s ties to the Red Dragon Syndicate, which brings trouble to the group.

This is honestly one of the best, if not the best anime series I have ever seen. I definitely should’ve watched it sooner, and I feel really guilty about missing out on it for so long. It’s an acquired taste, but it blends the sci-fi, comedy, and western genres perfectly to create a wondrous and insanely fun animated program. Let’s talk about Cowboy Bebop.

A mysterious life-form infects the crew in the Alien-reminiscent episode “Toys In The Attic”.

There’s a lot of characters in this show. When you look at the posters, the four crew members, along with Ein the dog, are shown doing some sort of action pose. You would think that these characters would show up right from the get-go, but that actually isn’t the case. Spike and Jet are known to the audience in the first episode, but Ein shows up in Episode 2, Faye in Episode 3, and Ed in Episode 9. Quite a few people had a hard time watching because the story doesn’t really start until the 5th episode, but once you get past that, and make it to the introduction of Ed, you’ll definitely have a blast.

The story is surprisingly great. I’m used to a lot of anime series’ plots being dragged out unnecessarily (One Piece has almost 800 episodes), but it works so well in this series. I helps that all of the main characters get a hefty amount of development, and at least one episode focuses on a single crew member (e.g. “My Funny Valentine” revolves around Faye’s life before she was part of the Bebop, and even gets some extra backstory in “Speak Like A Child”). The pacing in the show is excellent, and helps the viewer forget how late the actual story begins. Also, the music in this show is phenomenal. Right from the opening theme — “Tank!” by The Seatbelts — I knew that I was in for a treat. Every episode has a standout piece, and it’s so great to see jazz music incorporated into a Japanese television program. Outstanding, indeed.

The opening sequence of “Asteroid Blues” is beautiful and bleak.

The dialogue isn’t amazing, but it certainly works. I rarely felt annoyed or let down by the dialogue, and even when I did,  it wasn’t cringe-worthy to watch. However, the comedic bits between characters made it compelling enough for me to invest in it. Where I think the show’s writing shines the most is the flashbacks. Not only is Spike’s past interesting, but it’s tragic and beautiful, and the way his story in conveyed is just done so well.

I also heavily enjoyed and appreciated the style and fluidity of the ships and character movements. Each fight scene is done really well, and it’s hard not to look at the space battle and think, “This was 1998?” There’s rarely a computer-generated animation, but when there is, it’s pretty visible and a bit dated. However, I have to give the studio credit for doing the best they could with this type of series, one that requires a lot of detailed environments and backgrounds, as well as colorful characters.

Overall, Cowboy Bebop is a flat-out amazing anime series. It’s funny, compelling, and (for the most part) well-written. I’m going to give Cowboy Bebop a solid A.

Watch the entire series right here, on the new streaming service VRV! It’s completely free, so I highly recommend you check the show out.

Related Articles