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 is a 1998 Japanese anime series directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto, and produced by Sunrise. Its 26 episodes comprise a complete storyline: set in 2071, the series follows the misadventures and tragedies of a group of bounty hunters, or "cowboys", traveling on their spaceship, the Bebop.


The series' art direction centers around American music and counterculture, especially the beat and jazz movements of the 1940s-60s and the early rock era of the 1950s-70s, which the original soundtrack by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts recreates.

Cowboy Bebop was a commercial success both in Japan and international markets, notably in the United Statesmarker. 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. In 2004, it ranked second in Newtype USA's survey of their readers' favorite anime of all time.

Plot

The crew of the spaceship Bebop are a partnership of bounty hunters, called "cowboys", who travel the solar system trying to apprehend bounties. Jet Black is the owner of the Bebop, but has partnered with Spike for his diverse combat skills. Though he is reluctant to admit it, Jet has also come to rely on Spike for companionship in the normally solitary field of bounty hunting.

Most episodes revolve around attempts to bring in a specific bounty. Some of the Bebop's varied targets include small time thugs, gangsters, hacker (known as "net divers" in slang), religious leaders, psychopaths, genetic experiments, mutant creatures and petty thieves. Occasionally the Bebop crewmembers' pasts catch up with them, and the show regularly turns to the history of the main characters, alongside more general events in the past, in flashbacks. For example, Spike's past as an assassin for the syndicate appears in a number of episodes.

Setting

In 2022, the explosion of an experimental warp gateway caused major damage to the Moon, bathed the Earth with radiation, and left an asteroid ring that threatens the surface with daily meteor bombardments. As a result, many survivors abandoned the barely-habitable Earth to colonize the inner planets and moons of Jupiter. The series opens in 2071, decades after the accident, when the entire solar system has been made accessible via reliable warp gates. The crew of the Bebop spends much of its time on Mars, the new central hub of human civilization.

Characters

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. Many of the storylines are concerned with the Bebop crew's struggle to keep themselves financially afloat, often 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, particularly of his romantic relationship with a mysterious woman named Julia, and his conflict with arch-rival and 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 reason.

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 including perfectly hacking the 'Scratch' website in session #23. Despite his enhanced intelligence and comprehension, the rest of the Bebop crew often fail to notice these qualities.

Faye Valentine, an amnesiac awakened from a 54-year cryogenic slumber after being critically injured in a space flight. Upon awakening, she is tricked into assuming the massive debt of the man who woke her and constantly attempts to gamble on quick cash as a solution to her debt. Her gambling, cheating, and competitive skills, are unrivaled except by Spike. Most of her past and her real last name are a mystery.

Edward, a young, eccentric computer genius and master hacker. Ed is a girl, though her name and appearance suggest otherwise. She gave herself the fanciful name "Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV" after running away to an orphanage, but after her father is found, it is revealed that her real name is Françoise Appledelphi. 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 striving for power within the organization by killing members of the organization's 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 is a stark contrast to the world she inhabits: her blond hair, bright red umbrella, and automobile stand out noticeably in the otherwise drab environments in which she is seen.

Production

Staff

Interior shots are to be expected in a series about life on board a spacecraft, but on-planet outdoor scenes are common

Distribution

  • In the United Statesmarker, on 2 September 2001, Cowboy Bebop became the first anime title to be shown as part of the U.S. Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block. It was successful enough to be broadcast repeatedly for four years. It was rerun again in 2007, 2008, and the first part of 2009. It is currently being shown on Adult Swim Video.
  • In the United Kingdommarker, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast in 2002 as one of the highlights of the ill-fated "cartoon network for adults", CNX. As of 6 November 2007, it is being repeated on AnimeCentral.
  • In Australia, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast on pay-TV in 2002 on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim. It has recently started broadcasting on the Sci Fi Channel on Foxtel.
  • In Australia, Cowboy Bebop TV series was first broadcast on free-to-air-TV on ABC2 (the national digital public television channel) on 2 January 2007 . It has been repeated several times, most recently starting from Monday, 29 December 2008 and finishing on Monday, 22 June 2009 . Cowboy Bebop: The Movie also aired again on 23 February 2009, on SBS (a hybrid-funded Australian public broadcasting television network).
  • In Francemarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast during summer 2000 on Canal+.
  • In Germanymarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast during 2003-2004 on MTV.
  • In Polandmarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast several times by Hyper and TVP Kultura.
  • In Israelmarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast during 2001-2002 on Bip's late-night anime block.
  • In Spainmarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast during 1999 on Cartoon Network in the first Toonami programming block, during the early 2000s on K3's 3XL.net, and during summer 2006 on Cuatro's late-night show Cuatrosfera.
  • In Canadamarker, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast on 24 December 2006, on Razer.
  • In Italymarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast after November 1999 on MTV and again in 2007.
  • In Singaporemarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast on Arts Central at the 11 pm time slot, and had several scenes cut for violence and other graphic content.
  • In Portugalmarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast on SIC Radical in 2001, 2007, and 2008.
  • In The Netherlandsmarker, the first five episodes of Cowboy Bebop were broadcast by TMF in 2005.
  • In Latin America, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast in 2001 on Locomotion.
  • In The Philippinesmarker, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast in 2004 on GMA Network. It was recently shown on TV5.
  • In Indiamarker, Cowboy Bebop was broadcast several times since 2006 on Animax.


Reception

Japan

Cowboy Bebop almost did not appear on Japanesemarker broadcast television due to its depictions of gratuitous violence. It was first sent to TV Tokyomarker, one of the main broadcasters of anime in Japan. The show had an aborted first run from 3 April 1998, until 19 June 1998, on TV Tokyo, broadcasting only episodes 2, 3, 7 to 15, and 18.

Later that year, the series was shown in its entirety from 23 October until 23 April 1999, on the satellite network WOWOW. Because of 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, which 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.

Legacy

A poll in the Japanesemarker magazine Newtype asked its readers to rank the "Top 25 Anime Titles of All Time"; Cowboy Bebop placed second (behind Neon Genesis Evangelion) on a list that included such anime as Mobile Suit Gundam. In a recent poll by TV Asahi, Cowboy Bebop was 40th for Japan's Favorite Anime of 2006. The American Anime magazine Anime Insider (No. 50, November 2007) ranked the 50 best anime (available in America) by compiling lists of industry regulars and magazine staff, with Cowboy Bebop ranked as #1.

In the U.S., Cartoon Network has regularly rotated Cowboy Bebop in and out of its Adult Swim block line-up.

T.H.E.M Anime Reviews said the series has "sophistication and subtlety that is practically one-of-a-kind" and that "puts most anime...and Hollywood, to shame."

In March 2009, the print and web editions of The Onion's A.V. Club called Cowboy Bebop "rightly a huge hit", and listed it as a gateway series to understanding the medium of anime as a whole.

DVD release

DVD name Ep # Release date Additional information
Session One 1-5 4 April 2000
Session Two 6-10 2 May 2000
Session Three 11-14 13 July 2000
Session Four 15-18 4 April 2000
Session Five 19-22 2 May 2000
Session Six 23-26 13 July 2000
The Perfect Sessions 1-26 6 November 2001
  • Cowboy Bebop OST 1
  • Collectors Art Box


Cowboy Bebop has been released in three separate editions in North America.

The first release was sold in 2000 individually, and featured uncut versions of the original 26 episodes. In 2001, these DVDs were collected in the special edition Perfect Sessions which included the first 6 DVDs, the first Cowboy Bebop soundtrack, and a collector's box. At the time of release, the art box from the Perfect Sessions was made available for purchase on The Right Stuff International as a solo item for collectors who already owned the series.

The second release, The Best Sessions, was sold in 2002 and featured what Bandai considered to be the best 6 episodes of the series remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround sound.

The third release, Cowboy Bebop Remix, was also distributed on 6 discs and included the original 26 episodes, with sound remastered in Dolby Digital 5.1 and video remastered under the supervision of Shinichiro Watanabe. This release also included various extras that were not present in the original release. Cowboy Bebop Remix was itself collected as the Cowboy Bebop Remix DVD Collection in 2008.

Soundtrack

One of the most notable elements of Cowboy Bebop is its music. Episodes are called "sessions", each episode follows a different musical theme, and episode titles are borrowed from notable album or song names (i.e. "Sympathy for the Devil", "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Honky Tonk Women", "My Funny Valentine") or make use of a genre name ("Mushroom Samba", "Heavy Metal Queen").

Performed by Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts, a band Kanno assembled to perform music for the series, the jazz and blues themed soundtrack helps to define the show as much as the characters, writing, and animation. Cowboy Bebop was voted by IGN in 2006 as having the greatest soundtrack for an anime.

Cowboy Bebop



Cowboy Bebop: The Movie



Theme songs

Tim Jensen produced lyrics on some songs:

Other media

  • An official side story to Cowboy Bebop was released on the original website called Cowboy Bebop: UT. Taking place long before the series started, it features Ural and Victoria Terpsichore (V.T. from the episode "Heavy Metal Queen") when they were bounty hunters. The story is available at the site mirror hosted by jazzmess.com.
  • Bandai released a Cowboy Bebop shoot 'em up video game in Japanmarker for the PlayStation in 1998. A PlayStation 2 video game, Cowboy Bebop: Tsuioku no Serenade, was released in Japan, and the English version had been set for release in North America during the first quarter of 2006. However, in November 2007, GameSpot reported that the North American release had been canceled.
  • Two short manga series based on the Cowboy Bebop property were released in the US by Tokyopop.


Live-action movie

On 22 July 2008, IF Magazine published an article on its website regarding a rumor of a live-action Cowboy Bebop movie 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 has been confirmed as playing the role of Spike Spiegel. Variety confirmed on 15 January 2009, that the production company Sunrise Animation will be "closely involved with the development of the English language project." The site also confirmed Kenji Uchida, Shinichiro Watanabe, and series writer Keiko Nobumoto as associate producers, series producer Masahiko Minami as a production consultant, and Peter Craig as screenwriter. It is currently slated for release in 2011.

Continuation rumors

After the creation of the series, an interviewer asked Watanabe if he had any plans to create more Cowboy Bebop material. Watanabe responded by saying that he does not believe that he "should just keep on making Cowboy Bebop sequels for the sake of it." Watanabe added that ending production and "to quit while we're ahead when people still want more" is more "in keeping with the Bebop spirit". In a more recent interview from 2006 with the Daily Texan Watanabe was asked if there would ever be more Cowboy Bebop. Watanabe's answer was "someday... maybe, someday."

References

External links






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