List of Cowboy Bebop characters

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Cowboy Bebop's main cast from left to right: Jet Black, Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein.

The following is a list of major and minor characters, with biographical information, from the anime and manga series Cowboy Bebop, directed by Shinichirō Watanabe and written by Keiko Nobumoto. The series' 26 episodes are often character-driven; current events are often the consequence of life-changing occurrences shown in flashbacks.

Cowboys is the series' name for the bounty hunters who pursue wanted criminals across the galaxy. The bounty hunters, led by the martial artist and Mars native Spike Spiegel, travel in a converted fishing trawler, the spaceship Bebop, owned and maintained by the former policeman from Ganymede Jet Black.[1]

The intelligent Corgi Ein and hustler Faye Valentine join the crew early in the series; the eccentric Edward is encountered and comes aboard in a episode 9.

Bebop crew[edit]

Spike Spiegel[edit]

Main article: Spike Spiegel

Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera (Japanese); Steve Blum (English)

Spike Spiegel (スパイク・スピーゲル Supaiku Supīgeru?) (born June 26, 2044) is a tall, lean, and slightly muscular 27-year-old bounty hunter born on Mars. Spike has a history of violent activity, seen through flashbacks and dialogue with the Red Dragon Syndicate. He is often depicted with a cavalier attitude, but occasionally shows signs of compassion when dealing with strangers.

The inspiration for Spike's martial arts is found in Bruce Lee, who uses the style of Jeet Kune Do as depicted in Session 8, "Waltz for Venus". He has fluffy, blackish green hair (inspired by Yusaku Matsuda's) and reddish brown eyes, one of which is artificial and lighter than the other. He is usually dressed in a blue leisure suit, with a yellow shirt and Lupin III-inspired boots.

A flashback in Session 6 revealed that his apparently fully functioning right eye was surgically replaced by a cybernetic one (although Spike himself may not have conscious recollection of the procedure since he claims to have lost his natural eye in an "accident"). A recurring device throughout the entire show is a closeup on Spike's fully natural left eye before dissolving to a flashback of his life as part of the syndicate. As said by Spike himself in the last episode, his right eye "only sees the present" and his left eye "only sees the past". The purpose of this cybernetic eye is never explicitly stated, though it apparently gives him exceptional hand–eye coordination – particularly with firearms (Spike's gun of choice is a Jericho 941, as seen throughout the series). He is also a talented pilot in his personal fighter, the Swordfish II, a modified racer.

In the final episode, Spike kills Vicious, but his fate after the battle is left ambiguous. In a May 2013 interview, director Shinichirō Watanabe stated that it was up to the viewer to determine Spike's fate and that he thought that those who believed that he was simply asleep were "probably right".[2]

Jet Black[edit]

Voiced by: Unshō Ishizuka (Japanese); Beau Billingslea (English)

Born December 3, 2035, and known on his home satellite as the "Black Dog" for his tenacity, Jet Black (ジェット・ブラック Jetto Burakku?) is a 36-year-old former cop from Ganymede (a Jovian satellite) and acts as Spike's foil during the series. Physically, Jet is very tall with a muscular build. He wears a beard with no mustache, and is completely bald save for the back of his head. Spike acts lazy and uninterested, whereas Jet is hard working and a jack-of-all-trades. Jet was once an investigator in the Intra Solar System Police (ISSP) for many years until he lost his arm in an investigation that went awry when his corrupt partner (and friend at the time) betrayed him. His arm was replaced with a cybernetic limb—an operation later revealed to be by choice as biological replacements were possible. He wanted the fake arm as a reminder of the consequences of his actions. His loss of limb coupled with the general corruption of the police force prompted Jet to quit the ISSP in disgust and become a freelance bounty hunter. Jet also considers himself something of a renaissance man: he cultivates bonsai trees, cooks, enjoys jazz/blues music (he named his ship the Bebop, referring to a type of jazz), especially Charlie Parker, and even has interest in Goethe. As a character, Jet is the quintessential oyaji or "dad" even though he often wishes people would view him as a more brotherly figure (so as not to seem old). Of the crew he shows the most obvious affection when dealing with Edward, most obviously shown when he tells her a story in Session 18; he is also shown attempting to (perhaps falsely) reassure himself after she and Faye leave the crew of the Bebop, hinting that his usually-stoic nature may be born of necessity rather than any real lack of emotion.

During the series, it is revealed that Jet once lived with a woman named Alisa, who left him claiming that he overprotected her. They meet when the Bebop stops on Ganymede, Jet's homeland. Jet goes to find her. He talks to her and then leaves saying goodbye, but later he finds out that Alisa's new boyfriend, Rhint, is wanted for murder. Jet detains them and hands over Rhint to police.

Faye Valentine[edit]

Voiced by: Megumi Hayashibara (Japanese); Wendee Lee (English)

Faye Valentine (フェイ・ヴァレンタイン Fei Varentain?, born August 14, 1994) is one of the members of the bounty hunting crew in the anime series Cowboy Bebop. She is often seen with a cigarette and in a revealing outfit complete with bright yellow hot pants and a matching, revealing top (and, on occasion, a bikini). She sports violet hair, green eyes, and a voluptuous body. Although appearing to be no more than 23 years old, Faye is actually around 77 years old, having been put into cryogenic freeze after a space shuttle accident, wherein she spent fifty-four years in suspended animation. During the course of the series (set in 2071), Faye manages to cross paths with Spike and Jet twice before she finally makes herself at home aboard their ship the second time around, much to the consternation and disapproval of the two men, both of whom have their own reservations about women in general.

Throughout the series, though she grows to care for Jet and even Edward in her own way, it is her relationship with Spike that remains a cause for consideration by most. In one episode Spike teases her and asks if she will come to help him if he gets into trouble, and though she scoffs at his remark, she eventually does. Faye even points her gun at him in a threatening gesture in the last episode, as Spike is walking away to what she and Jet both realize is his possible death. After he leaves, Faye cries. When asked, Watanabe stated in an interview: "Sometimes I'm asked the question, 'What does Spike think of Faye?' I think that actually he likes her quite a bit. But he's not a very straightforward person so he makes sure he doesn't show it."[3]

Ed[edit]

Voiced by: Aoi Tada (Japanese); Melissa Fahn (English)

Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (エドワード・ウォン・ハウ・ペペル・チブルスキー4世 Edowādo Won Hau Peperu Chiburusukī Yonsei?) is the self-invented personal name of an elite hacker prodigy from Earth. Her father calls her Françoise (フランソワーズ Furansowāzu?) in one scene, but since he "forgets the sex of his own child, it's doubtful this is Ed's real name".[4] "Radical Edward" is a very strange, somewhat androgynous, teenage girl claiming to be around 13 years of age. Her mannerisms include walking around in her bare feet, performing strange postures, and her gangling walk. Ed could be considered a "free spirit"; she is fond of silly exclamations and childish rhymes, is easily distracted, has the habit of "drifting off" from reality sometimes in mid-sentence, and is the show's primary source of comic relief. Ed's generally carefree attitude and energy act as a counterpoint to the more solemn and dark aspects of the show. Ed remains a part of the Bebop crew until the 24th episode, when she, along with Ein, leaves the crew.

Originally, Ed's character was inspired by the "inner behavior" of the shows' music composer, Yoko Kanno[5] ("a little weird, catlike, but a genius at creating music"), and was first developed as a dark-skinned boy. It was changed to even the gender ratio on the Bebop, which was, with Ed as a boy, three males and one female. The original character design appears in session 5 as a young boy that steals an adult magazine from Annie's bookstore by smuggling it under his shirt.

Ein[edit]

Voiced by: Kōichi Yamadera

Ein (アイン Ain?) is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi brought aboard the Bebop by Spike after a failed attempt to capture a bounty. His name is most likely derived from "Einstein", after Albert Einstein, because of the extraordinary intelligence he possesses. Another possibility is that the name is the German translation of "one", in the meaning of him being considered a he or an it. It can also be interpreted that, in Japanese, the way dogs bark is "wan" (ワン?, pronounced the same as "one"), hence the name "Ein".

Ein is referred to as a "data dog" by the scientists that created him and he often shows heightened awareness of events going on around him. Over the course of the series, Ein answers the telephone, steers a car, uses the SSW, plays shogi, and generally performs tasks that an average canine should not be able to accomplish. The extent of Ein's intelligence is hinted at in Session 23: "Brain Scratch", when the "Brain Dream" gaming device is placed on Ein's head; Ein quickly navigates the system and hacks into its operating system.

Other major characters[edit]

Vicious[edit]

Voiced by: Norio Wakamoto (Japanese); Skip Stellrecht (English)

"Vicious" (ビシャス Bishasu?) is the main antagonist of Cowboy Bebop who is ruthless, bloodthirsty, cunning and ambitious. Considered by some to be Spike's darker half, Vicious is willing to do anything in order to secure a position of power. He is a member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate in Tharsis, and is often referred to or depicted as a venomous snake (as opposed to Spike who is referred to as a swimming bird and the Syndicate Elders who see themselves as a dragon). His weapon of choice is not a firearm, but a katana which he wields skillfully, even against gun-wielders. He was an infantry rifleman during the Titan War and is shown firing a semi-automatic pistol in a Session 5 flashback, as well as in the Session 26 flashback of him and Spike fighting back-to-back. Early on, Vicious is seen with a black bird on his shoulder. Though he is even shown feeding it in one scene, he eventually hides explosives in its stomach and detonates them as a distraction during an escape.

Vicious was Spike's partner in the Red Dragon crime syndicate until they fell into conflict over Julia (and possibly over Spike's decision to abandon the Syndicate, though the two may be related). After Spike's supposed death, Vicious left the Red Dragons briefly to fight in the Titan War of 2068. Although his precise motivations for enlisting are debated, his testimony helped frame Gren, his squadmate in the war, for spying, which raises the possibility that he himself might have been involved in military espionage on behalf of the Syndicate and chose to pin it on his admirer. However, in the Titan flashbacks he is also seen to be remembering Julia, as if the cold, distant moon and its warzone were simply the most appropriate climate for grief. Notably that scene portrays the only suggestion of sentimentality toward Julia herself that Vicious displays during the series.

Julia[edit]

Voiced by: Gara Takashima (Japanese); Mary Elizabeth McGlynn (English)

Julia (ジュリア Juria?) is a beautiful and mysterious woman from both Spike and Vicious' pasts. Initially Vicious' girlfriend and a Syndicate member herself, she and Spike started a dangerous affair that led to Spike offering to abandon the Syndicate and elope with her, despite the fact that the Syndicate punishes desertion with death. Arranging to meet at a graveyard later, Spike goes to confront the Syndicate with his resignation, resulting in a violent gun battle where he is presumed by the Syndicate to have died. Vicious discovers the affair, however, and confronts Julia, telling her that she would have to kill Spike at the graveyard, or else they would both be killed. To protect not only herself but also the man she loved, Julia goes into hiding, never meeting Spike as both of them had planned; Spike himself was never aware of Vicious' threats until the very end of the series.

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.

After meeting Faye Valentine by coincidence, Julia is reunited with Spike. However, their reunion coincides with Vicious' first attempt to stage a coup on the Red Dragon Syndicate. When he fails and is imprisoned, the Syndicate's Old Guard launches a campaign to find and kill anyone who was or had ever been loyal to Vicious' group, whether or not they are involved. This includes Spike, Julia and their friend Annie, who distributes munitions under cover of a convenience store. The store is ambushed by the Syndicate while Spike and Julia are there, and Julia is shot and killed as she and Spike try to escape across the rooftops. Her last words to Spike are "It's all a dream...".

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Suskind, Alex. "Asteroid Blues: The Lasting Legacy of 'Cowboy Bebop'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-02-03. 
  2. ^ Green, Scott & Watanabe, Shinichiro (May 26, 2013). "Video: Rare English Interview with "Cowboy Bebop" Director Shinichiro Watanabe". Red Carpet News TV. Retrieved January 24, 2017 – via Crunchyroll.com. 
  3. ^ McNamara, Jonathan & Watanabe, Shinichiro (February 6, 2006). "'Cowboy Bebop' Director Watanabe Talks Anime". The Daily Texan. Archived from the original on February 10, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2017. 
  4. ^ Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 6. Los Angeles, CA: Tokyopop. September 2002. p. 20. ISBN 1591820235. 
  5. ^ Bricken, Robert (January 2003). "Behind the Bebop - Murder, Mars and All That Jazz". Anime Invasion. Wizard (#5).