Cowboy Bebop

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Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop Logo.png
Title card for the anime series
カウボーイビバップ
(Kaubōi Bibappu)
Genre Space Western, Neo-noir
Manga
Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star
Written by Cain Kuga
Published by Kadokawa Shoten
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Imprint Asuka Comics DX
Magazine Asuka Fantasy DX
Original run September 18, 1997June 18, 1998
Volumes 2 (List of volumes)
Anime television series
Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe
Produced by Masahiko Minami
Kazuhiko Ikeguchi
Written by Keiko Nobumoto
Music by Yoko Kanno
Studio Sunrise
Licensed by
Anime Limited
Network TV Tokyo (1998)
WOWOW (1998–1999)
English network
Original run April 3, 1998April 24, 1999
Episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Manga
Written by Yutaka Nanten
Published by Kadokawa Shoten
English publisher
Demographic Shōjo
Imprint Asuka Comics DX
Magazine Asuka Fantasy DX
Original run October 18, 1998February 18, 2000
Volumes 3 (List of volumes)
Anime film
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ Kaubōi Bibappu?) is a 1998 Japanese anime series developed 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 adventures of a bounty hunter crew traveling on the Bebop (their spaceship). Cowboy Bebop explores philosophical concepts including existentialism, existential ennui, loneliness, and the past's influence.[1]

The series premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo's 18:00 timeslot (previously occupied by Kodomo no Omocha) 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. For English releases in the United Kingdom, 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 from Japanese publications, 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 series of all time. Credited with helping 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.

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

Cowboy Bebop is set in the year 2071, when humanity has colonized the entire Solar System through the use of "Phase Difference Space Gates", which allow for swift travel in space.[2][3] These Gates made it possible to deliver vast amounts of materials and energy, including sunlight, to distant planets, consequently making it immensely easier to make these worlds suitable for human habitation (known as terraforming).[3]

In 2022, a catastrophic accident occurred in the Earth's orbit during the development of the Gates, damaging both the planet and the Moon. The Earth's surfaces became heavily irradiated, forcing most of mankind to evacuate via the Gates and leave for the planets and moons of the Solar System. Old governments and ethnic groups were forgotten, and were soon replaced by new allegiances and affiliations as new communities formed. The difficult times eventually brought rapid developments and the economy recovered. However, the widening gap between the rich and poor created a boom in criminal activity, leading to the rise of numerous criminal syndicates. As time passed, the planets and satellites became independent states, and a new generation grew up with no memories of the Earth. Gate technology became a trusted part of everyday life, and a necessary tool for the people. Interplanetary crime fell under the jurisdiction of the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP), an organisation which also introduced a bounty reward scheme. Once registered, bounty hunters were licensed to bring criminals to justice in exchange for high rewards. This created a new class of bounty hunters, also known as "cowboys".[3]

Plot[edit]

The main cast from left to right: Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein.

The story begins with the introduction of protagonist Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP officer who retired following a mob hit that cost him his arm, as two bounty hunters who travel on Jet's spaceship the Bebop. Through unintended circumstances, the duo are eventually joined by three new members: Ein, a hyper-intelligent genetically-engineered Welsh Corgi dog, Faye Valentine, an amnesiac femme fatale con artist, and Edward, a barefooted preteen female prolific computer hacker. The series is mostly episodic in nature, with the story regularly following the crew's adventures and bounty hunting quests, while also exploring their day-to-day lives. Aside from the stand-alone stories, there is also a main overarching story arc that centers on Spike.

Throughout the series, the Bebop crew members deal with unresolved issues from their pasts, with the show regularly utilizing flashbacks to illustrate their backstories. Over the course of the series' episodes, Spike occasionally encounters and battles his former friend Vicious, an enforcer of the Red Dragon Syndicate, while his past is shown to be tied to a mysterious woman named Julia. After a brief reunion with his former ISSP partner, Jet discovers he was betrayed and the mob hit that led to his arm loss was a trap carried out by his corrupt partner. Faye discovers she was born in the 20th century and was cryogenically frozen after a space shuttle accident left her severely injured. Edward encounters her long-lost father and eventually decides to leave the Bebop, with Ein choosing to accompany her.

The series ends with the conclusion of Spike's story arc. It is revealed that Julia was Vicious' girlfriend who started a dangerous affair with Spike, who offered to abandon the Red Dragon Syndicate and elope with her. After Vicious found out, he confronted Julia and ordered her to kill Spike, threatening that both would be killed otherwise. To protect herself and Spike, Julia went into hiding, never meeting him as both of them had planned. Spike then faked his death to the Syndicate and disappeared, eventually meeting Jet and forming a bounty hunter partnership with him. In the present, Vicious stages a coup d'etat on the leaders of the Red Dragon Syndicate, becoming its new head and ordering a hit on Spike and Julia. With help, Spike manages to find Julia in their original meeting place. However, the two are shortly ambushed by hitmen sent by Vicious, and Julia is killed in the escape. Spike returns to the Bebop and shares a final moment with Jet and Faye, before flying to Red Dragon headquarters where Vicious is waiting. After fighting his way through numerous henchmen, he finally manages to confront Vicious. The two battle, Spike using his pistol, and Vicious using his katana. After a brief standoff, the two exchange blows simultaneously, leaving Vicious dead and Spike severely wounded. Spike descends the staircase, where he is confronted by the remainder of the Red Dragons members. Smiling, he mimics a gun with his fingers, utters a final word "Bang", and collapses.

Production[edit]

Cowboy Bebop was developed by animation studio Sunrise and created by Hajime Yatate, the well-known pseudonym for the collective contributions of Sunrise's animation staff. The leader of the series' creative team was director Shinichirō Watanabe, most notable at the time for directing Macross Plus and Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory.[4] Other leading members of Sunrise's creative team were screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, character designer Toshihiro Kawamoto, mechanical art designer Kimitoshi Yamane and composer Yoko Kanno. Most of them had previously worked together, in addition to having credits on other popular anime titles. Nobumoto had scripted Macross Plus, Kawamoto had designed the characters for Gundam, and Kanno had composed the music for Macross Plus and The Vision of Escaflowne. Yamane had not worked with Watanabe yet, but his credits in anime included Bubblegum Crisis and The Vision of Escaflowne.[2]

Cowboy Bebop was Watanabe's first project as solo director, as he had been co-director in his previous works. The project had initially originated with Bandai's toy division as a sponsor, with the goal of selling spacecraft toys. Watanabe recalled his only instruction was "So long as there's a spaceship in it, you can do whatever you want." But upon viewing early footage, it became clear that Watanabe's vision for the series didn't match with that of Bandai's. Believing the series would never sell toy merchandise, Bandai pulled out of the project, leaving it in development hell until sister company Bandai Visual stepped in to sponsor it. Since there was no need to merchandise toys with the property any more, Watanabe had free rein in the development of the series.[5]

Watanabe wanted to design not just a space adventure series for adolescent boys but a program that would also appeal to sophisticated adults.[4] While the dialogue of the series was kept clean to avoid any profanities, its level of sophistication was made appropriate to adults in a criminal environment. Mature themes such as drug dealing and homosexuality were also key elements of some episodes.[6] Watanabe would later describe Cowboy Bebop as "80% serious story and 20% humorous touch."[7] When developing the series' story, Watanabe began by creating the characters first. He explained, "the first image that occurred to me was one of Spike, and from there I tried to build a story around him, trying to make him cool."[5]

Watanabe noted that composer Yoko Kanno did not score the music exactly the way he told her to. He stated, "She gets inspired on her own, follows up on her own imagery and comes to me saying 'this is the song we need for Cowboy Bebop,' and composes something completely on her own." Watanabe further explained that he would take inspiration from Kanno's music after listening to it and create new scenes for the story from it. These new scenes in turn would inspire Kanno and give her new ideas for the music and she would come to Watanabe with even more music. Watanabe cited as an example, "some songs in the second half of the series, we didn't even ask her for those songs, she just made them and brought them to us." He commented that while Kanno's method was normally "unforgivable and unacceptable," it was ultimately a "big hit" with Cowboy Bebop. Watanabe described his collaboration with Kanno as "a game of catch between the two of us in developing the music and creating the TV series Cowboy Bebop."[7]

The atmospheres of the planets and the ethnic groups in Cowboy Bebop mostly originated from Watanabe's ideas, with some collaboration from set designers Isamu Imakake, Shoji Kawamori, and Dai Satō. The animation staff established the particular planet atmospheres early in the production of the series before working on the ethnic groups. It was Watanabe who wanted to have several groups of ethnic diversity appear in the series. Mars was the planet most often used in Cowboy Bebop's storylines, with Satoshi Toba, the cultural and setting producer, explaining that the other planets "were unexpectedly difficult to use." He stated that each planet in the series had unique features, and the producers had to take into account the characteristics of each planet in the story. For the final episode, Toba explained that it was not possible for the staff to have the dramatic rooftop scene occur on Venus, so the staff "ended up normally falling back to Mars."[8]

Regarding the longevity of his work, Watanabe said that during the making of Bebop, he would try to rally the animation staff by telling them that the show would be something memorable in 10, 20, and even 30 years from then. While some of them were doubtful of that at the time, Watanabe many years later expressed his happiness to have been proven right in retrospect. He joked that if Bandai Visual hadn't intervened then "you might be seeing me working the supermarket checkout counter right now."[5]

Analysis[edit]

Style and appeal[edit]

Several planets and space stations in the series are shown to be made in Earth's image. The streets of celestial objects such as Ganymede resemble a modern port city, while Mars is replete with shopping malls, theme parks, casinos and cities. Cowboy Bebop's universe is filled with video players and hyperspace gates, eco-politics and fairgrounds, spaceships and Native American shamans. Futuristic elements are combined with the modern elements, "allowing audiences to easily connect with the Cowboy Bebop world".[9]

In his review of Cowboy Bebop, Miguel Douglas, editor-in-chief of iSugoi.com, describes the style of the series:

the series distinctly establishes itself outside the realm of conventional Japanese animation and instead chooses to forge its own path. With a setting within the realm of science fiction, the series wisely offers a world that seems entirely realistic considering our present time. Free from many of the elements that accompany science fiction in general — whether that be space aliens, giant robots, or laser guns — the series delegates itself towards presenting a world that is quite similar to our own albeit showcasing some technological advances. Certainly not as pristine a future we would see in other series or films, Cowboy Bebop decides to deliver a future that closely reflects that of our own time. This aspect of familiarity does wonders in terms of relating to the viewer, and it presents a world that certainly resembles our very own.[10]

Daryl Surat of Otaku USA commented on the series' "broad-ranging" appeal due to its style:

Cowboy Bebop was that rare breed of science-fiction: "accessible". Unlike many anime titles, viewers weren’t expected to have knowledge of Asian culture — character names, signs, and the like were primarily in English to begin with — or have seen any other anime series prior.[11]

Susan J. Napier argues, in her book Anime from Akira to Princess Mononoke: Experiencing Contemporary Japanese Animation, that anime increasingly "exists at a nexus point in global culture…an amorphous new media territory that crosses and intermingles national boundaries". Napier goes on to point out that many Japanese commentators refer to anime with the term mukokuseki, meaning "stateless".[12] This implies that much anime is not specifically Japanese and therefore lacks a distinct national identity. Napier states that this "very quality of 'statelessness' has increasing attraction in our global culture". It is said that Cowboy Bebop reflects this and it is a great part of the show's appeal.[9]

Genre and cultural references[edit]

Cowboy Bebop pays homage to several films. This scene from "Ballad of Fallen Angels" is influenced by John Woo's The Killer.[9][13]

Watanabe's main inspiration for Cowboy Bebop was Lupin III, a crime anime series from the late 1970s through the mid-1980s.[4] According to Watanabe, the series paid subtle tribute to his favorite American films and series, which were shown in Japan during that time, including Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Bruce Lee films, films with blues or jazz soundtracks, as well as Blaxploitation films. Individual movies from Alien to Midnight Run were pastiched.[2]

The series covered genres such as comedy, detective caper, action and thriller. The musical style was emphasized in many of the episode titles, which were in English, such as: "Asteroid Blues", "Honky Tonk Woman", "Ballad of Fallen Angels", "Heavy Metal Queen", etc.[2] The anime draws heavily on Western sources, such as pulp detective stories, film noir, and American Westerns. There are also strong Hong Kong influences, mainly of the heroic bloodshed mold which includes films such as The Killer or Hard Boiled.[14][15]

These continual borrowings from other genres and cultural products create a familiar access point for a western audience and perhaps in some part explain Cowboy Bebop's popularity. The sense of the familiar is emphasised and reinforced by popular culture references throughout the series. Kung fu films are an obvious influence. In "Stray Dog Strut" the final fight between Spike and Hakim is influenced by Bruce Lee's Game of Death while in "Waltz for Venus", Spike's kung fu lesson is similar to a scene from Lee's Enter the Dragon.[9]

Big Shot, the fictional news source within Cowboy Bebop which provides information on various bounty heads.

The western genre is a strong influence on Cowboy Bebop. Several examples pervade throughout; a show called Big Shot informs the characters of the current bounties, the crew often visit saloons and desert worlds and engage in gunfights and stand-offs. The first episode contains a scene reminiscent of "A Fistful of Dollars". Even the title of the show is a reference to westerns, suggesting the prevalence of a lawless society. [9]

Science fiction is another substantial influence, both the space and futuristic setting, as well as in reference to science fiction films of the 70's and 80's. A homage of the "Alien" films is made in the episode "Toys in the Attic" where an unseen monster stalks the crew. The episode "Wild Horses" is strongly influenced by the original Star Wars films.[9]

Film noir is perhaps the greatest genre influence on Cowboy Bebop. This is shown with the characterization of Jet Black, a former cop who rails against the corruption of the police force but is thrown into a semi-lawless state of bounty hunting. As in film noir, characters are morally ambiguous – none more so than Faye Valentine who betrays her allies in the pursuit of a big bounty. The big-city rain-slicked settings of film noir are continually used, especially in the episode "Ganymede Elegy". Other visual and aural cues are also taken from film noir, in "Pierrot Le Fou" for instance, Spike battles an enraged homicidal clown across a fairground, accompanied by lighting and camera angles film noir would use.[9][16]

Distribution[edit]

Broadcast[edit]

Cowboy Bebop almost did not appear on Japanese broadcast television due to its depictions of graphic violence. It was first sent to TV Tokyo, one of the main broadcasters of anime in Japan. The show had an aborted first run from April 3 until June 26, 1998, on TV Tokyo, broadcasting only episodes 2, 3, 7 to 15, 18 and a special, after which it was canceled due to low ratings.[17] Later that year, the series was shown in its entirety from October 24 until April 24, 1999, on satellite network WOWOW. Because of TV Tokyo's cancellation of the anime, the production schedule was disrupted to the extent that the last episode was delivered to WOWOW on the day of its broadcast.[clarification needed][18] The full series has also been broadcast across Japan by anime television network Animax, which has also aired the series via its respective networks across Southeast Asia, South Asia and East Asia.

In the United States, on September 2, 2001, Cowboy Bebop became the first anime title to be shown as part of the U.S.Adult Swim Launch.[19] It was successful enough to be broadcast repeatedly for four years. It was rerun again in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2013. In the United Kingdom it was first broadcast in 2002 as one of the highlights of the ill-fated "cartoon network for adults", CNX. From November 6, 2007, it was repeated on AnimeCentral until the channel's closure in August 2008. In Australia, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast on pay-TV in 2002 on Adult Swim in Australia. It was broadcast on Sci Fi Channel on Foxtel. In Australia, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast on free-to-air-TV on ABC2 (the national digital public television channel) on January 2, 2007.[20] It has been repeated several times, most recently starting in 2008.[21][22] Cowboy Bebop: The Movie also aired again on February 23, 2009, on SBS (a hybrid-funded Australian public broadcasting television network). In Canada, Cowboy Bebop was first broadcast on December 24, 2006, on Razer.

Home media[edit]

DVD name Content Release date
Session One

Episodes 1–5

April 4, 2000
Session Two

Episodes 6–10

May 2, 2000
Session Three

Episodes 11–14

July 13, 2000
Session Four

Episodes 15–18

April 4, 2001
Session Five

Episodes 19–22

May 2, 2001
Session Six

Episodes 23–26

July 13, 2001
The Perfect Sessions
  • Episodes 1–26
  • Cowboy Bebop OST 1
  • Collectors Art Box
November 6, 2001
Best Sessions

Various

November 19, 2002

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.[23]

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.[24]

The third release, Cowboy Bebop Remix, was also distributed on 6 discs and included the original 26 uncut 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.[25] Cowboy Bebop Remix was itself collected as the Cowboy Bebop Remix DVD Collection in 2008.

A fourth release in Blu-Ray format was released on December 21, 2012 exclusively in Japan.[26][27]

In December 2012, newly founded distributor Anime Limited announced via Facebook and Twitter that they had acquired the home video license for the United Kingdom. Part 1 of the Blu-Ray collection was released on July 29, 2013, while Part 2 was released on October 14. The standard DVD Complete Collection was originally meant to be released on September 23, 2013 with Part 2 of the Blu-Ray release but due to mastering and manufacturing errors, the Complete Collection was delayed until November 27.[citation needed] Following the closure of Bandai Entertainment in 2012, Funimation and Sunrise had announced that they rescued Cowboy Bebop, along with a handful of other former Bandai Entertainment properties, for home video and digital release.[28] Funimation will release the series on Blu-ray and DVD on December 16, 2014.[29] The series will be released in four separate editions: standard DVD, standard Blu-ray, an Amazon.com exclusive Blu-ray/DVD combo, and a Funimation.com exclusive Blu-ray/DVD combo.[29][30]

Related media[edit]

Music[edit]

Main article: Music of Cowboy Bebop

The music of Cowboy Bebop was scored by composer Yoko Kanno.[31] Kanno formed the blues and jazz band Seatbelts to perform the music of the series.[32] Since the series' broadcast, Kanno and the Seatbelts have released seven original soundtrack albums, two singles and extended plays, and two compilations through label Victor Entertainment.[33]

The series' opening theme was "Tank!", performed by the Seatbelts and composed by Kanno; while the ending theme for most of the series was "The Real Folk Blues", performed by the Seatbelts with vocals by Mai Yamane and composed by Kanno with lyrics by Yuho Iwasato.[34] The ending theme for the thirteenth episode "Jupiter Jazz (Part 2)" was "Space Lion", performed by the Seatbelts and composed by Kanno;[35] while the ending theme for the twenty-sixth and final episode "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)" was "Blue", performed by the Seatbelts with vocals by Yamane and composed by Kanno with lyrics by Tim Jensen.[36]

Manga[edit]

Two Cowboy Bebop manga series have been released, both published by Kadokawa Shoten and serialized in Asuka Fantasy DX.[37][38] The first manga series, titled Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star and written and illustrated by Cain Kuga, was serialized from October issue 1997, before the anime series' release, to July issue 1998.[37][39] It was collected into two volumes in 1998, the first one in May and the second one in September.[40][41] The second manga series, simply titled Cowboy Bebop and written and illustrated by Yutaka Nanten, was serialized from November issue 1998 to March issue 2000.[38][39] It was collected into three volumes, the first two in April and October 1999 and the third one in April 2000.[42][43][44] Both manga series were licensed by Tokyopop for release in North America.[45][46]

Video games[edit]

A Cowboy Bebop video game, developed and published by Bandai,[47] was released in Japan for the PlayStation on May 14, 1998.[48] A PlayStation 2 video game, Cowboy Bebop: Tsuioku no Serenade, was released in Japan on August 25, 2005,[49] and an English version had been set for release in North America. However, in January 2007, IGN reported that the release had been likely been cancelled, speculating that it did not survive Bandai-Namco's merger to Bandai Namco Games.[50]

Film[edit]

An anime film titled Cowboy Bebop: The Movie; also known as Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door (劇場版 カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉 Gekijōban Kaubōi Bibappu: Tengoku no Tobira?, titled Cowboy Bebop: Heaven's Door in English) was released in Japan on September 2001 and in the United States in 2003.

On July 22, 2008, If 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".[51][52] Keanu Reeves was to play the role of Spike Spiegel.[53][54] Variety confirmed on January 15, 2009, that production company Sunrise Animation would 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. This was lauded by various sources as a promising move for the potential quality of the film.[55] At the time it was slated to release in 2011, but problems with the budget delayed its production. The submitted script was sent back for rewrite to reduce the cost and little has been heard about it since an interview with producer Joshua Long on October 15, 2010;[56] the project currently languishes in development hell. On May 31, 2013, Watanabe stated that the film is currently "underway" but the "details are a secret."[57] On October 20, 2013 Reeves stated "Cowboy Bebop does not look like it is going to happen with me in it [...]" in a reddit IAmA.[58]

Other[edit]

An official side story titled Cowboy Bebop: UT tells the story of Ural and Victoria Terpsichore (V.T. from the episode Heavy Metal Queen) when they were bounty hunters. The story was available in its own official site, however the site was closed and is currently available at the site mirror hosted by jazzmess.com.[59]

Reception[edit]

Cowboy Bebop has received universal critical acclaim, and upon release, it garnered several awards and rankings from different anime publications. Several reviewers from various anime websites have praised the series for its style, characters, story, voice acting, animation and soundtrack. Over the years since its release, Western critics and viewers in particular have hailed Cowboy Bebop as a masterpiece and frequently consider it as one of the best anime series of all time.

Critical reception[edit]

Anime News Network's Mike Crandol gave the series an 'A+' rating for the dubbed version, and an 'A' rating for the subbed version. He claimed the series was "one of the most popular and respected anime titles in history," before adding that it was "a unique television show which skillfully transcends all kinds of genres." Crandol praised its characters as "some of the most endearing characters to ever grace an anime," and commended the voice acting, especially the "flawless English cast," believing they "actually one-up the Japanese originals." He also complimented the series' "movie-quality" animation, "sophisticated" writing, and its "incredible" musical score. Crandol hailed Cowboy Bebop as a "landmark" anime "that will be remembered long after many others have been forgotten", and went on to call it "one of the greatest anime titles ever."[60]

T.H.E.M. Anime Reviews gave the entire series a perfect score of 5 out of 5 stars, with reviewer Christina Carpenter believing Cowboy Bebop as "one of the best [anime]" and touting it as a masterpiece that "puts most anime...and Hollywood, to shame." She described it as a "very stylish, beautifully crafted series that deserves much more attention than it gets." Carpenter praised the animation as "a rarity and a marvel to behold" and that it was "beyond superb," and the plot and characterization as having "a sophistication and subtlety that is practically one-of-a-kind." She also praised the soundtrack, and hailed the opening theme as one of the best intro pieces she had ever heard. Carpenter went to say that Bebop was a "must-have for any serious collector of Japanese animation."[61]

The Nihon Review's Kavik Ryx awarded Cowboy Bebop a maximum 10 out of 10. He praised the "fluid like water" animation, the "brilliant" jazz style soundtrack, the "quirky, dynamic, [...] likable" characters, the "epic" moments, the "fun" battles, and the English dub; he also described the story as "one of the most fun and addicting plots in anime." Ryx applauded Bebop as a "visually stunning" series with a style "that seems unique to anime," before noting the series' one drawback was that it "so well done" that it "could have gone longer."[62]

Accolades[edit]

In the 1999 Anime Grand Prix awards for the anime of 1998, Cowboy Bebop won two 1st place awards: Spike Spiegel was awarded the best male character; and Megumi Hayashibara was awarded the best voice actor for her role as Faye Valentine. Cowboy Bebop also received rankings in other categories: the series itself was awarded the 2nd best anime series; Faye Valentine and Ed were ranked the 5th and 9th best female characters respectively; "Tank!" and "The Real Folk Blues" were ranked the 3rd and 15th best songs respectively; and "Ballad of Fallen Angels", "Speak Like a Child", "Jamming with Edward" and "Mish-Mash Blues" were ranked the 2nd, 8th, 18th and 20th best episodes respectively.[63]

In the 2000 Anime Grand Prix awards for the anime of 1999, Cowboy Bebop won the same two 1st place awards again: best male character for Spike Spiegel; and best voice actor for Megumi Hayashibara. Other rankings the series received are: 2nd best anime series; 6th best female character for Faye Valentine; 7th and 12th best song for "Tank!" and "Blue" respectively; and 3rd and 17th best episode for "The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)" and "Hard Luck Woman" respectively.[64] In the 2000 Seiun Awards, Cowboy Bebop was awarded for Best Media of the Year.[65]

A 2004 poll in Newtype USA, the US edition of the Japanese magazine Newtype, asked its readers to vote the "Top 25 Anime Titles of All Time"; Cowboy Bebop ranked 2nd on the list (after Neon Genesis Evangelion), placing it as one of the most socially relevant and influential anime series ever created.[66] In 2007, the American Anime magazine Anime Insider listed the "50 Best Anime Ever" by compiling lists of industry regulars and magazine staff, and ranked Cowboy Bebop as the #1 anime of all time.[67] In 2012, Madman Entertainment compiled the votes of fans online for "The Top 20 Madman Anime Titles" and ranked Cowboy Bebop at #7.[68]

Cowboy Bebop has been featured in several lists published by IGN. In the 2009 "Top 100 Animated TV Series" list, Cowboy Bebop, labelled as "a very original -- and arguably one of the best -- anime", was placed 14th, making it the second highest ranking anime on the list (after Evangelion) and one of the most influential series of the 1990s.[69] In 2011, Bebop was ranked 29th in the "Top 50 Sci-Fi TV Shows" list, once again being the second highest ranking anime on the list (after Evangelion).[70] In 2006, Cowboy Bebop's soundtrack was ranked #1 in "Top Ten Anime Themes and Soundtracks of All-Time" list, with the series being commented as "one of the best anime ever and certainly is tops when it comes to music."[71] Spike Spiegel was ranked 4th place in the "Top 25 Anime Characters of All Time" article.[72] IGN Movies also placed Cowboy Bebop in their list of "10 Cartoon Adaptations We'd Like to See".[73]

Legacy[edit]

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.[74]

American film director Rian Johnson has cited Cowboy Bebop as a visual influence on his film Brick.[75]

Continuation rumors[edit]

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".[76] 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".[77]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]