A Japanese animated television series (Anime) released in 1998, Cowboy Bebop told the adventures of bounty hunters in space in the year 2071. Produced by Sunrise, Inc for the toy manufacturer Bandai, Cowboy Bebop originally ran as a 13-episode series on TV Tokyo from 3 April, 1998, to 19 June, 1998. Of these 13 episodes, 12 were full episodes of what was to have been a 26-episode series. The 13th episode, entitled 'Session XX: Yoseatsume Buruzu' (Mish-Mash Blues), contained clips from the series and original dialogue from each main character. The entire 26 episodes were broadcast on the satellite station WOWOW from 23 October, 1998 to 23 April, 1999.
After the success of the TV series, there has also a movie been made by the original production team, which was released in 2001.
Cowboy Bebop follows the adventures of three bounty hunters (also called 'cowboys'), a child genius computer hacker, and a 'data dog' as they travel in the spaceship Bebop, making a living as best (and haphazardly) as they can. More often than not, the crew is unable to apprehend their bounties and are reduced to desperate measures for survival, such as eating dog food or simply starving.
Though the series is episodic in nature, there is a main story arc which explores the life of bounty hunter Spike Spiegel as he strives to distinguish dream from reality and attain freedom from (and perhaps redemption for) a blood-stained past.
The main characters of Cowboy Bebop are:
Age: 27, Birthplace: Mars
Ostensibly the main character of Cowboy Bebop, Spike is an ex-member of the Red Dragon crime syndicate on Mars. After faking his death in 2068, Spike teamed-up with ex-Inter Solar Systems Police (ISSP) officer Jet Black to become a bounty hunter.
Headstrong and rash, Spike lives by his own strict rules of honour and justice and will not allow anything to stand in the way of him fulfilling his moral obligations. Though always eager to pursue any type of life-threatening adventure, Spike is also a sensitive and caring individual who is willing to help the afflicted as best as he can. Despite being something of a flirt, his one true love is the mysterious Julia, another member of the Red Dragon syndicate. His love for her remains true to the end.
A man of numerous contradictions, Spike's easy-going, humorous nature belies a somber, introverted personality which he keeps hidden (along with his past) from his Bebop crewmates. A practitioner of Jeet Kune Do, Spike worships the martial arts master Bruce Lee. Spike's personal ship is the Swordfish II.
Spike claims to hate children, pets, and women with attitude.
An ex-ISSP officer, Jet met Spike Spiegel in 2068 and teamed up with him to become a bounty hunter. Whereas Spike can be hot-headed and rash, Jet is almost always rational and collected, willing to make a plan of action instead of barging into danger head-first. What both men share is a strong sense of honour and duty. Known as the 'Black Dog' in his ISSP days (because once he bit, he never let go), Jet will hunt down a bounty until the end. Though Jet believes in justice, he is willing to separate the circumstances of a crime from the criminal.
On board his ship, the Bebop, Jet acts in an almost parental role, cooking and cleaning for his crew-mates and worrying about their welfare. He also acts as a mechanic, data decrypter (until the arrival of Ed), and occasional captain. Jet also displays his nurturing nature in the care of his beloved bonsai trees.
Jet's left arm is mechanical, a prosthetic he received after being seriously wounded in a Syndicate set-up. The combination of his injury and corruption within the ISSP compelled Jet to retire, though he still keeps contacts within the ISSP who occasionally assist Jet with information on bounty heads.
Jet owns the Bebop and has a personal craft called the Hammerhead. Jet also enjoys listening to the blues.
Age: 23/79, Birthplace: Earth
A one-time bounty head caught by Jet and Spike, Faye makes her home on the Bebop as she pleases and without invitation. A card sharp and incurable gambler, Faye is perpetually in debt, owing an excess of 300,000,000 woolongs (the universal monetary unit in 2071) for being cryogenically frozen, unfrozen, and healed. Though in appearances only 23 years old, Faye is actually 79, making her the oldest crew mate aboard the Bebop. As a result of her cryogenic sleep, Faye has lost her memory and cannot remember her life before being 'awoken' in 2068.
Self-centered and more than a little money oriented, Faye is willing to use her wits and body to get ahead in life. Faye is occasionally able to swindle her way into both money and trouble. Despite being obnoxious and egocentric, Faye is extremely self-conscious in terms of relationships and prefers to run from commitment rather than face rejection.
Faye's personal ship is the Redtail.
Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV
AKA: Radical Edward, NEE: Francoise Appledelhi
Age: 13 (rumoured), Birthplace: Earth (rumoured)
Ed is the youngest member of the Bebop crew and the last to join. In return for assisting Jet, Spike, and Faye with catching a computer bounty-head, Ed is 'allowed' to join the crew (ie, she hacks into the Bebop's on-board computer and forces them to pick her up).
An eccentric and sometimes flaky genius, 'Radical Edward' (as she is known on the net) can hack into virtually any restricted area on the net and has proven herself indispensable on many occasions. A sweet, if elusive, child, Ed forms a close bond with the ship's dog, Ein.
Like the rest of the Bebop crew, Ed has her own mysterious past, peopled with those she is seeking and those who are seeking for her.
Though she has no personal ship, Ed does have a red scooter and a laptop computer which she carries on her head. The computer has the word 'Tomato' written on its side.
Ed named herself 'Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV'.
Age: 2 (in human years), Birthplace: Unknown
Perhaps the most mysterious member of the Bebop Crew, Ein is the creation of an illegal genetics laboratory. Called a 'data dog', Ein was given an incredible intellect which he keeps mostly hidden from the Bebop crew. Though saved from death by Spike, Ein's loyalty to the crew seems to stem more from genuine friendship rather than simple gratitude.
Patient and good-natured, Ein endures starvation with the rest of the crew and playful abuse from Ed on a fairly regular basis. An inherently curious creature, Ein can find himself in trouble for allowing his need to know to overcome his instincts.
Ein is apparently cognizant of human speech (though he cannot speak himself) and has proven his intellect by eluding bounty heads, opening car doors in speeding vehicles, talking with a cow, and hacking into a computer.
Originally commissioned to be a show about 'spaceships', Cowboy Bebop proved itself to be much more. Themes of morality, justice, karma, redemption, love, and friendship were explored under the capable hands of the production staff, most of whom worked together on the original video animation (OVA), Macross Plus.
The main production staff for Cowboy Bebop were:
- Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
- Series Editor: Keiko Nobumoto
- Character Design: Toshihiro Kawamoto
- Mechanics Art Design: Kimitoshi Yamane
- Set Design: Isamu Imakake
- Art Director: Junichi Higashi
- Color Coordinator: Shihoko Nakayama
- Director of Photography: Yoichi Ogami
- Audio Director: Katsuyoshi Kobayashi (APU)
- Music: Yoko Kanno
- Animation Production: Sunrise, Inc
- Producers: Masahiko Minami, Kazuhiko Ikeguchi
- Produced By: Sunrise, Inc and Bandai Visual Co Ltd
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