Plot: Four hoppin' misfit space cowboys, bounty hunters, on board the converted fishing rig the Bebop, comb the colonized and gritty solar system the humanity now inhabits, searching for the criminals law and justice just cannot keep up with, or escape the corruption of, in the international new wild, wild west of space. They are constantly hungry, constantly at each other's throats, constantly concerned for each other, and constantly trying to forget the past and just live one day at a time. These are the twenty-seven sessions that tell their story via seamless weaving of multiple genres of cinema and (formerly) alternative music--in space.
Verdict: What praise can I give this series that has not already been said a thousand times? It is the thing to show people to prove animation is not just for kids. It defined voice acting as a profession in the West. There is more, but others have all said it. Let me just say this is my favorite series bar none, and its lead is my favorite character ever. I would like to think I can empathize with him better than anyone else, but I am not so sure.
These sessions are not just a series of unrelated plots and theme, no they are all united by its misfit crew and supporting cast of outcasts and their attempts to truly be existential--or not. No one can leave their past behind completely, and moreover no one leaves the mafia (or any gang) forever. As the sessions progress each character's past catch up to them, both the good and bad. Ultimately though the tone was set from the very first session: this is not bebop made flesh, but rather the blues.
The arc of the plots and themes leads ultimately to tragedy of circumstances for crew of the Bebop. If only, if only, if only is the usual response to such tragedies, but with Bebop, people may not like how it ends, but nobody seems to doubt, that there is no other way that it could have ended--way it should have ended. The world here does arc to its end with a whimper, our characters, however, are not ones to go out that way--not completely anyway. I suppose this is what makes Bebop so true to me, and so true to many. Adversity may kill a lot of people, but the spirit of people as a whole does not just lay down and die. No, people will keep on living, keep on dreaming, until they have nothing left but to find out if they ever were truly awake and truly alive.
Buy it. Recommend this to friends jaded towards animation and anime. Say it is like Steinbeck, if Steinbeck wrote Sci-Fi instead of about the USA's Great Depression , because it is. Remember, life is but a dream. Bang.
Facts: It is 26 half-hour episodes and a feature length animated film (Cowboy Bebop: the Movie also called Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door) that is essentially a longer episode. The movie fits into the plot chronologically right after the Session 13: Jupiter Jazz (Part 2); watch it with the series. Sunrise Entertainment, which splintered into a lot of studios, the main ones being Studios Bones and Madhouse, made it. Yoko Kanno with the Seatbelts composed its legendary score. Along with its animation, the cast is the epitome of the best in the business of voice acting: Steve Blum (in his most famous role), Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee (in her best performance), Melissa Fahn, Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, and Jennifer Hale (in the movie).