Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop opens in the year 2071, a time when Earth is damaged from a warp gate accident and mankind has terraformed and colonized the inner planets. The series follows the mishaps of the spaceship Bebop and a group of bounty hunters. The show blends the wild west with science fiction where bounty hunters are the cowboys. Episodes revolve around attempts to net a bounty by the Bebop’s crew. Throughout their misadventures Jet Black, the owner of the Bebop, and his partner Spike Spiegal pick up additional crew members and mouths to feed. Despite their best efforts to live in the moment, each member of the Bebop has a past they cannot avoid. Particularly Spike’s past as a syndicate enforcer causes trouble for the crew.

The series is a pleasing ride on the battered steel stallion Bebop throughout the wild west of space. From crazed bombers seeking television time to millionaires keeping boredom at bay, the bounties and characters the Bebop crew encounter are just as varied and eccentric as they are. The cowboys gallop from the new earth of Mars to the distant and barely habitable moons of Jupiter. Now if only food and fuel wasn’t so expensive or if some members of the crew would just leave…

Cowboy Bebop follows the exploits of the 5 crew members. While there are central characters such as Julia and Vicious to the storyline, they make only a handful of appearances.

Characters

Faye, Spike, Ein, Ed, and Jet

Spike Spiegal is a former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. Trained as an enforcer, his skills in combat, firearms, and as a pilot are vital to the few successes the crew has with bounties. Despite his carefree attitude, he is haunted by this past in the syndicate and his relationships with Julia and Vicious.

Jet Black is a former Inter-Solar System Police officer who left the force out of disgust. He chose the life of a bounty hunter to mete out justice in a world of corruption and red tape. Jet is also haunted by a past, particularly the memories of his girlfriend Alisa.

Faye Valentine is a mysterious gambler that joins the Bebop uninvited. Slowly she becomes attached to the crew and often leaves only to return. She remembers nothing of her past but is chronically pursued by debt collectors.

Edward is the genius computer hacker. Despite appearance, Ed is a girl. Ed offers her expertise in return for becoming a member of the crew. She quickly begins looking up to Jet as a father and Spike and Faye as older siblings.

Ein is a “data dog.” Equipped with enhanced intelligence and computer abilities, Ein subtly assists the crew throughout the series. With the exception of Ed, everyone considers Ein an average mutt.

Cowboy Bebop deals with the themes of camaraderie and avoidance. Most of the characters grow to appreciate the friendships they establish with each other. Although, no one on the crew freely admits this. Each of the characters have a past they thought they left behind. Despite their efforts these pasts return and force a confrontation. Cowboy Bebop teaches that pasts, particularly troublesome ones, cannot be ran away from and must be resolved at one point. One other theme that is a comedic source is chronic lack of money and hunger.

Cowboy Bebop is considered a classic. The blend of Wild West and Space Age creates a pleasing and believable world. While the animation is becoming a little dated, it still stands up as one of the best. The characters are painfully human and identifiable. The planets are harsh and nicely varied. In short, Cowboy Bebop is one of the pinnacles of anime.

2 COMMENTS

  • Spike wanted to see if he was really alive. In other words, Spike was going to make sure for one last time, that he was alive this whole time he was at Bebop. So basically, I think he was just saying in a fancy way that he was going to get killed by Vicious; he knew it, but just wasn’t scared of it anymore. The importance of his statement is the fact that he’s labeling death as something not to be afraid of. It’s just a continuation of the dream; it just mattered how you wanted to get on that path. For him, the only way to be happy about death is to relinquish what killed him in the wrong way (in other words, his past, which has given him a wrong sense of death. If you recall the movie scene when Vincent apparently killed Spike, Spike said that he was actually scared to die at that time). To relinquish the past, he had to face Vicious, the last thing tying him back. He carried the weight, finally, with courage, and accepted death happily and without any fear or regrets. You could say he joined Julia’s afterlife dream, no way would he want to come back to life now. In short, Spike always used to think he didn’t care about death. But indeed he was scared of death. That meant that he was fearless of death for the wrong reasons. Once he finally faced the weight he had been carrying, he happily left the world. There’s nothing wrong about carrying weight. The important thing is that you accept the weight and embrace it. Embracing one’s weight doesn’t necessarily mean you will now die. He just so died because all this time he unfortunately was 100% living in the past for a long time, which was unique only to him. So, Spike conquering his weight = losing the past = losing his life.As he died, he said Bang. He was happy because he knew he toppled all his enemies and fears and understood death. So, that was all he needed to say.

    • You have an interesting view on the ending of Cowboy Bebop. I have a slightly different view: Spike was afraid to be alive. He was afraid to rely on others and be relied upon. That is why he mostly lived in the past.

      In any case, Spike has a nicely complex character. In some ways he is redeemed from his past. In other ways he failed to fully redeemed since he eventually had to finish off his past with violence.

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