Anime to watch in lockdown: Cowboy Bebop

For five weeks I’m recommending anime series that are great to binge watch, and which hopefully provide a bit of a lift while many of us are in lockdown.

Assorted anime images

Click here for my recommendation from last week, the romcom that is Toradora, or click here to read my blog about why anime is worth watching. (And how it’s definitely not just for kids!)

My recommendation this week is completely different from last, a laid-back Sci-Fi show called Cowboy Bebop.

Cowboy Bebop

…Cowboy Bebop above all else is cool, an anime series watched by people who claim they don’t like anime”

Cowboy Bebop: Sunrise Studio 1998, 26 episodes, 8.9/10 on IMDB.

Cowboy Bebop is a series of stories about Spike and his gang; a crew of bounty hunters travelling around the solar system in their creaking old spaceship, the ‘Bebop’. And a confession upfront – I can’t claim everyone will find this show ‘uplifting’, but it is certainly high in entertainment value.

The show centres around the small key members of the cast. There’s Spike, who was once an underworld hitman; Jet, a former police officer; Faye, a con-artist; Edward, a talented female hacker; and Ein, a corgi with human intelligence. It’s quite a diverse bunch! In this murky future, the police give out contracts to chase down criminals, and it is these the crew follow, in a pretty much hand-to-mouth existence.

Unlike many anime, there’s not such an emphasis on an over-riding story arc (though there is one there), rather, it’s more a series of individidual adventures with each episode providing for a different setting, a different tale, a different contract. If you’ve watched Josh Whedon’s superb Firefly series, you’ll feel a lot of echoes. Cowboy Bebop predates Firefly, and although the wide rumours that Cowboy Bebop influnced Josh Whedon are just rumours, when watching it you can understand why people might think that.

There’s some downsides to the show, like with everything: compered to more recent series, the animation certainlu doesn’t look quite as slick; the final episode generated a very mixed reception; and given the nature of the crew’s ‘job’, this show may not be suitable for children.

But these really are fairly minor criticisms. Cowboy Bebop above all else is cool. It’s an anime series watched by people who claim they don’t like anime. This is popcorn anime that you can relax and watch, a jazz soundtrack pervading the series, and a hint of film noir.

At the time of writing, Cowboy Bebop is streaming for free on Channel 4. Note, the English dub version for this show is not bad, for those who don’t like having to watch with subtitles.

The third one next week, and it’ll be a very different show again…

Anime landscapes

Page Updated 07/02/21

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