Spike Spiegel and Jet Black

Created by Yutaka Nanten

SPIKE SPIEGAL and JET BLACK are bounty hunters in the future on the hit TV show Cowboy Bebop, who were found on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim time slot back in the early naughties. There's a difference between them and most bounty hunters, though -- these guys are animated. But don't make the mistake of thinking it's just another cartoon.

This is anime, or Japanese animation. Of course, anime has a reputation for being ultraviolent and ultracool, and this one, definitely aimed at adults, not children, was no exception. And Spike and Jet aren'y your run-of-the-mill grubby bounty hunters either -- they're registered intergalactic bounty hunters (aka "cowboys") working for the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP), chasing down fugitives on their spaceship Bebop all over the solar system.

Chain-smoking Spike is a lanky, cool-as-all-git-out twenty-something slacker with the kung-fu skills of Bruce Lee and the gun-slinging skills of Chow Yun-Fat in his movies directed by John Woo. Those skills allow him to take on even the most dangerous opponents without breaking a sweat. Spike is the field man, who goes out to catch the big-money criminals.

Jet is a beefy ex-cop from the ISSP (Inter-Solar System Police). He's a middle-aged grouch who conceals his gentle heart with a gruff exterior. He holds down the fort at their home, the spaceship Bebop, and collects information to help Spike catch the bad guys. He provides backup when necessary.

Along for the ride more often than not is their spunky wouldbe partner Faye Valentine.

But that doesn't really begin to capture the wonderful perfection that is Cowboy Bebop. It's become one of the most popular anime shows in Japan and among anime fans in America. And it's easy to see why: it's an amalgamation of the best of Western and Asian culture in one dazzling package. There's also plenty of little pop culture allusions thavery similar to the American buddy movies and 70's cop shows. There are episodes that reference Quentin Tarantino, Alien, blaxploitation flicks, Batman: The Animated Series, Akira Kurosawa, hard-boiled noir, Hong Kong heroic bloodshed, and, of course, the American cowboy, just to name a few.

The show's also very accessible to the non-anime fan. Many anime shows, like Dragon Ball Z and Gundam Wing, are seemingly endless serials which demand the viewer to watch every episode to understand the storyline. But Cowboy Bebop's episodes are self-contained 25-minute stories, so a viewer doesn't have to start at the beginning to become a fan. Okay, there is a set of five episodes that explore the dark past of Spike that are sprinkled throughout the series. But these episodes are masterpieces of storytelling, character, and art. They raise an otherwise smart, slick show to heavenly entertainment.

Fans called this show a life-changing experience. And judging from all the merchandise that cluttered the marketplace, they were a devoted bunch. Besides manga comics scripted by creator Yutaka Nanten, there were also numerous episode guides. And there was even a full-length feature film, Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku No Tobira, released in 2001.

There was something in this show that is truly is something for every adult, whether they're looking for exciting action, cool sci-fi technology, comedy, or heart-breaking drama. Just watch it!

TELEVISION

  • COWBOY BEBOP
    (1998, Bandai Visual/Sunrise)
    26 30-minute episodes
    Created by Yutaka Nanten
    Writers: Yutaka Nanten, Akihiko Inari, Sadayuki Murai , Keiko Nobumoto, Dai Sato, Shinichiro Watanabe, Ryota Yamaguchi, Michiko Yokote
    Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe

    Japanese Version
    Starring the voices of Kôichi Yamadera as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Unshô Ishizuka as JET BLACK
    and Megumi Hayashibara as Faye Valentine
    Also starring Aoi Tada, Gara Takashima, Norio Wakamoto, Miki Nagasawa , Tsutomu Taruki, Takehiro Koyama , Hitoshi Hirao, Nakajima Akihiko, Hiroshi Naka

    Dubbed English Version
    Writers: Marc Handler
    Starring the voices of David Lucas as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Beau Billingslea as JET BLACK
    and Wendee Lee as Faye Valentine
    Also starring Melissa Charles, George C. Cole,Mona Marshall, Jonathan C. Osborne, Lia Sargent , Melissa Williamson

  • Original U.S. Broadcast Dates
  • "Asteroid Blues" (September 2, 2001)
  • "Stray Dog Strut" (September 2, 2001)
  • "Honky Tonk Women" (September 9, 2001)
  • "Gateway Shuffle" (September 9, 2001)
  • "Ballad of Fallen Angels" (September 23, 2001)
  • "Heavy Metal Queen" (September 23, 2001)
  • "Jamming with Edward" (September 30, 2001)
  • "Ganymede Elegy" (September 30, 2001)
  • "Toys in the Attic" (October 7, 2001)
  • "Jupiter Jazz" (Part 1) (October 7, 2001)
  • "Jupiter Jazz" (Part 2) (October 14, 2001)
  • "Bohemian Rhapsody" (October 14, 2001)
  • "My Funny Valentine" (October 21, 2001)
  • "Black Dog Serenade" (October 21, 2001)
  • "Mushroom Samba" (October 28, 2001)
  • "Speak Like a Child" (October 28, 2001)
  • Wild Horses" (November 4, 2001)
  • "Pierrot Le Fou" (November 4, 2001)
  • "Boogie Woogie Feng Shui" (November 11, 2001)
  • "Brain Scratch" (November 11, 2001)
  • "Hard Luck Woman" (November 18, 2001)
  • "The Real Folk Blues" (Part 1) (November 18, 2001)
  • "The Real Folk Blues" (Part 2) (November 25, 2001)
  • "Sympathy for the Devil" (December 16, 2001)
  • "Waltz for Venus" (December 23, 2001)
  • "Cowboy Funk" (February 15, 2002)

FILM

  • COWBOY BEBOP: TENGOKU NO TOBIRA
    (2001, Columbia)
    120 minutes
    Screenplay by Keiko Nobumoto
    Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe 
    Original music by Yôko Kanno
    Starring Kôichi Yamadera as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Unshô Ishizuka as JET BLACK
    and Megumi Hayashibara as Faye Valentine
    Also starring Aoi Tada, Nakajima Akihiko, Mickey Curtis, Hitoshi Hirao, Renji Ishibashi, Tsutomu Isobe, Ai Kobayashi, Miki Nagasawa, Hiroshi Naka, Tsutomu Taruki

    COWBOY BEBOP: KNOCKIN' ON HEAVEN'S DOOR
    Dubbed English Version
    Starring Beau Billingslea as JET BLACK
    David Lucus as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    and Wendee Lee as Faye Valentine
    Also starring Melissa Charles

BOOKS

  • Cowboy Bebop #1 (2002; by Yutaka Nanten, Hajime Yatate, et al)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop #2 (2002; by Yutaka Nanten, Hajime Yatate, et al)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop #3 (2002; by Yutaka Nanten, et al)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star, Book 1 (2003; by Cain Kuga)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star, Book 2 (2003; by Cain Kuga)...Buy this book

ANIME GUIDES

  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 1 (2002)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 2 (2002)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 3 (2002)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 4 (2002)...Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 5 (2002)...Buy this book

DVDs/VIDEOS

Each DVD contains 4 or 5 or so episodes, and are bilingual (Japanese/English)

Limited edition boxed set contains complete series, original soundtrack CD, interviews with cast and creators, trailers, etc. 7 CDs.

Re-released complete series, now on Blu-Ray as well.

RELATED LINKS

This is the review that fired my interest in Cowboy Bebop. There's pictures in the sidebar and good commentary on the show.

This was and still is the most extensive, detailed review I've read about Cowboy Bebop. Don't worry, for all the info shown there are no spoilers.

Respectfully submitted by our man in Hawaii, Bluefox, with additional info by Kevin Burton Smith. And thanks, Marcus...


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