It’s been over 20 years since Cowboy Bebop smooth-jazzed its way into our hearts, and since its premiere, anime has never looked back. And while we wait for Netflix to finally get us that John Cho-starring adaptation we’ve been promised, there’s no better time than now to revisit this classic animation – whether it be your first time diving in, or your hundredth.
Cowboy Bebop is a sci-fi series created by the staff at Sunrise Studios under the pseudonym Hajime Yatate, but in fact helmed by Shinichiro Watanabe. Originally concocted as a means for selling toys for Bandai (but ultimately leaving it to the creative forces of the show after coming to the conclusion that it would not, in fact, sell said toys), the team were given the ripe opportunity to go ham on the show as a whole and create whatever it was they damn well pleased, ultimately making a masterpiece.
The show follows a hapless band of bounty hunters – a mix of miscreants and mysterious loners – who all find each other over the course of this one and only season, chasing down criminals and foraging for what little food they can find. The show bounces between cartoonish hijinks and interpersonal stories of self-reflection and heartache. Often melancholic in tone, it finds solid ground between being a relatable exploration of self and finding the humor in the midst of absurdity and loneliness.
Not to mention, the music is rad. Composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by The Seatbelts, it takes its notes from American jazz and blues (not to mention heavy metal, as evidenced by an episode of the same name), as well as classical and operatic music. Kanno seemingly created the music in a vacuum, with Watanabe and company then taking what they had and applying it to the show as they saw fit, even sometimes writing whole episodes or scenes to Kanno’s music.
What’s impressive about Bebop as a whole is just how well it holds up even after these 20-plus years. It still bleeds the essence of cool in every frame, and between the editing, the writing, and yes, even the dubbed voice work, it’s a miracle of filmmaking the likes of which has rarely been achieved since.
If you’ve never seen the show, or want to go for one more spin around the sun with the likes of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein, then I highly recommend heading over to Hulu or Crunchy Roll and kicking it with the crew of the Bebop. Because you can’t go wrong with the classics.
See you, Space Cowboy…
More From Binge It!…
Binge It! is IGN’s recommendation series. Movies, TV shows, books, comics, music… if you can binge it, we’re here to talk about it. In each installment of Binge It!, we’ll discuss a piece of content we’re passionate about — and why you should check it out.