Cowboy Bebop

In 2071 there's an accessibility of traveling through the solar system by way of hyperspace gates, earth is barely habitable due to an explosion with one of these gates damaging the moon and causing meteor strikes. Essentially that's the setting of Cowboy Bebop, people have to colonize "inner planets" like Mars, Jupiter's moons, the asteroid belt all of which transformed into habitable zones for humans. That's the foundation of what is without a doubt my favorite anime of all time that I somehow discovered in high school.

In this series, interplanetary crime syndicates exert influence over varying government factions, and numerous jobs are done throughout the galaxy from space pirates to bounty hunters known as "Cowboys". Spike Spiegel; former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, Jet Black; former Inter-Solar System Police Detective, Faye Valentine; an unpredictable bounty hunter with a mysterious past, Ed; resident computer genius, and Ein; the "data-dog" are the crew of the Bebop. There's also the thematic issues brought to each episode drug dealing, kidnapping, and many others that highlight the fact that this is obviously not a show aimed at children.

Though the titles may raise an eyebrow or two everything in the series isn't immediately thrown at you, you start the series off introduced to Spike and Jet waiting for the next alert of a new bounty where money is gravely needed and throughout the one run series we're introduced to Faye, a reckless and selfish bounty hunter that eventually begrudgingly teams up with Spike and Jet, and throughout this series we learn about the past of our crew traveling on the Bebop. From Spike's tormented past with the syndicate, Jet's lost love and former partners in the police, Faye's mysterious past that she struggles to make sense of and remember, and the foundations of Ed and Ein.

With episodes named after song titles a lot of us may know and love, Bohemian Rhapsody and Ballad of Fallen Angels to name a few, to the noir style and influences spread throughout. One of my favorite aspects of the show is the fact of Spike's knowledge and varied use of Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do, and I tend to enjoy every single episode though there is one that immediately comes to mind with a psychotic assassin named Mad Pierro (think a mixture of the Joker, the Pinguin, Guile from Street Fighter, and Bane) in an episode titled "Pierrot le Fou" where to say Spike meets his match would be a serious understatement and is defiantly one of many episodes that stand out.

The world itself though taking place in 2071 the future isn't as "hyped" as many movies have portrayed the future to be. The vehicles used are a mixture of wheeled cars and motorcycles that we see as concepts in auto shows today, aircraft for use within the earth's atmosphere and small and large spaceships. It provides a way of seeing what technology could potentially look like in the event that we can travel to other planets in ways we drive across the country and fly around the world. 

Overall this is a show I anticipated each week, anxious for the next episode and completely drawn into the story, into the characters, into the world. I would argue and many would likely agree, that this is an anime that still holds up today, but I don't like arguing so we'll just go with it. Once upon a time there was a film version that was in development with Keanu Reeves, and though I'm probably one of a handful that actually enjoy Reeves I was happy this didn't go through even during the time of the announcement he was obviously too old to play Spike and the whispers around the project weren't too encouraging. 

Below is the first episode of the series "Asteroid Blues". If you have 20 or so minutes to spare give it a try, as it's possible you may enjoy the show (maybe not as much as I do) but you will never know.