Cowboy Bebop is a Japanese Anime TV series that premiered in 1997 and later aired in many other countries. The show takes place in the year 2071, where national governments have collapsed and humanity has colonized most of the solar system. Cowboy Bebop follows exploits by a group of bounty hunters, often referred to as cowboys, as they chase gifts through the space of their star ship, Bebop.
The main character of Cowboy Bebop, Spike Spiegel, is a former member of a criminal gang trying to escape the past. At the beginning of the series, Spike is the only bounty hunter followed by Jet Black, a former cop with a cybernetic arm. Later in the series the two are with Fey Valentine, a beautiful woman with some memory of her past, and Ed, a woman (yet a bit androgynous) child. Ein, a Welsh Corgi, also becomes that group.
There are several themes that are common throughout the 26 episodes of the series. The crew is usually very poor and only barely manage to buy enough food to live. Each member of the Bebop crew has a mysterious past, and throughout their series their past is slowly revealed. In some way, every main character in Cowboy Bebop is trying to escape from his past, and eventually has to deal with it.
The world of Cowboy Bebop is very advanced. To break out of a ravaged Earth, humanity has terraformed many planets, moons and asteroids. Giant hyperspace gateways have been created to allow faster travel through the solar system. Cybernetic limbs and organs can replace their natural counterparts, and the World Wide Web has been replaced with the Solar System Web. Technology such as video cassettes and CDs are now collectibles.
Cowboy Bebop is recognized for its soundtrack, which borrows heavily from American jazz and rock and roll culture. Each episode is referred to as a session, and through almost every session, jazz music is played. Action sequences usually provide an upbeat, energetic song, while dramatic and emotional scenes offer smooth jazz.
Yoko Kanno performed most of the music for Cowboy Bebop with her band, the seat belts. The show was recognized enough for its music, and Kanno has since released several albums of Cowboy Bebop music. The program itself received numerous awards for the best soundtrack in an Anime series.
A Cowboy Bebop movie titled Knockin ‘on Heavens Door was released by Sony Pictures after the show’s original run. It was met with international success and was shown in cinemas throughout the world. Knockin ‘on Heavens Door takes place below the timeline of the original series.