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The Japanese anime series Cowboy Bebop consists of 26 episodes, referred to as "sessions." Most episodes are named after a musical concept of some sort, usually either a broad genre (i.e. "Jupiter Jazz") or a specific song (i.e. "Honky Tonk Women"). The first episode premiered on TV Tokyo on October 23, 1998, and ran until April 23, 1999. In the U.S., the series has aired continuously in rotation since 2001 on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim.

The scenario of the show takes place in 2071, and is about a group of bounty hunters who stick with each other in an effort to stave off loneliness, hunger, and to find purpose in their existence in a brutal and chaotic, unforgiving universe. Trying to catch up with their human prey (which they more times than not, fail at), and then escape the trouble they run into while trying to score the bounty to make a living.

The main characters are Jet Black, a retired cop-turned-bounty-hunter, the owner of the "Bebop," (the name of the main ship), a bonsai artist and the ship's chef; Spike Spiegel, Jet's partner in bounty hunting, former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, and hotshot ace owner/pilot of the "Swordfish II," a smaller spaceship that Spike docks in the Bebop; Faye Valentine, a gambling-addicted amnesiac who always finds herself in financial debts; "Radical" Edward Wang Hwe Pepel Cybulski 4th, barefoot and creative, yet strange, prodigious computer hacking young girl; and Ein, the Bebop's data dog and Ed's faithful companion.

Each episode is a stand-alone story in itself, and can be viewed without knowing anything about other episodes; however, most episodes also include continuous background storylines running throughout the series as well, focusing on each of the main characters with varying detail and significance. A few episodes, especially the last two, focus directly on issues about a character's past. The most introspection is given to Spike and his vague, shady interactions with underworld-type characters and seedy black-market dealings. Usually characters' backgrounds are only obscurely alluded to, and the audience is never directly explained details or shown the full picture until the end. There are brief flashbacks, or characters will speak of things that happened in the past, and holes are intentionally left up to the audience to fill in. Episodes have a tendency to end without finality, giving the series an apathetic if realistic essence.

A recurring aspect throughout the series is the show within the show, "Big Shot for the Bounty Hunters." In this show, a male and female host dressed in elaborate and showy sequined cowboy outfits send updates to "all 300,000 bounty hunters in the solar system," showing mugshots, listing their bounties, and some basic information on the criminals and law-breakers. Often the broadcast will initiate the plot for the particular episode or will give details about events happening elsewhere.

With the exception of Asteroid Blues, each episode includes a commercial bumper. These bumpers continually change throughout the series. Some read as boasts, such as the phrase "The work, which becomes a new genre itself".

A movie was released in 2001, titled Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. The movie is a midquel taking place between episodes 22 and 23.

Episode listing

# Title Original airdate
1 Asteroid Blues
"Asuteroido Burūsu" (アステロイド・ブルース)
October 23, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Fellow bounty hunters Spike Spiegel and Jet Black head to the New Tijuana asteroid colony to track down a bounty-head who is trying to sell off a stolen cache of a dangerous combat drug called Red Eye.

This episode pays homage to Desperado, with Asimov resembling Antonio Banderas's mariachi character and Katrina resembling Salma Hayek's character.[1] .

2 Stray Dog Strut
"Norainu no Sutoratto" (野良犬のストラット)
October 30, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Spike and Jet's next hunt takes them to Mars, where their target, a professional thief, has stolen a very valuable, genetically engineered "data dog" from a corporate research facility.

This episode makes several references to Bruce Lee's Game of Death. Abdul Hakim's appearance and name are modeled after NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. The episode's title is a reference to the Stray Cats' "Stray Cat Strut".[citation needed]

Director Shinichirō Watanabe said that he made the suggestion to put the turtle on the head of the character who is the owner of "Animal Treasures."[1]

The commercial bumper features the words Cowboy Bebop in gray against a black background. Behind the letters there is a very faint blurry sequence of letters and words. The only full word that is legible is "Session".

3 Honky Tonk Women
"Honkī Tonku Wimen" (ホンキィ・トンク・ウィメン)
November 06, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
With Ein as a new companion, the crew of the Bebop cross paths with Faye Valentine, a wanted fugitive drowning in debt, who ends up being forced to act as a middle-woman for an illegal transaction at a space station casino.

The title of this episode is a reference to "Honky Tonk Women" by The Rolling Stones.

The commercial bumper reads Cowboy Bebop in pink cursive letters on a black background. Again a sequence of faint, blurry gray letters and words can be seen although no full words can be found.

4 Gateway Shuffle
"Geitowei Shaffuru" (ゲイトウェイ・シャッフル)
November 13, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
After gambling away all the money she obtained, Faye ends up getting her hands on a mysterious suitcase while exploring the wreckage of a derelict spaceship. Meanwhile, Spike and Jet pursue a bounty on the leader of the Space Warriors, a group of eco-terrorists armed with a terrifying biological weapon.

The commercial bumper has the same as that of episode 3 except the words Cowboy Bebop are in blue.

5 Ballad of Fallen Angels
"Datenshi-tachi no Baraddo" (堕天使たちのバラッド)
November 20, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
While pursuing the bounty on an executive of the Red Dragon Syndicate, Spike ends up confronting Vicious, an old enemy of his.

The episode pays homage to John Woo movies. The shootout in the church, dual-wield guns and the stand-off between Spike and Vicious are all trademarks of Woo's films.

6 Sympathy for the Devil
"Akuma o Awaremu Uta (A Song to Sympathize with the Devil)" (悪魔を憐れむ歌)
November 27, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Spike and Jet chase a dangerous enemy who, despite having the appearance of a little boy, is actually more than eighty years old.

The title of this episode is a reference to "Sympathy for the Devil" by The Rolling Stones.

7 Heavy Metal Queen
"Hevi Metaru Kuīn" (ヘヴィ・メタル・クイーン)
December 04, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
The crew of the Bebop chase a bounty named Decker, who is running a load of high explosives. While nursing a hangover at a diner, Spike meets a cargo hauler pilot named V.T., who hates bounty hunters, but ends up lending him a hand.

The character Otto was modeled after the character portrated by Bunta Suguhara in Trucker Yarō ("Trucker Guys"), a series of ten films from 1975-1979 directed by Noribumi Suzuki. The names of other trucker characters, including Love Machine, Sneaky Snake, and Spider Mike, originate from the 1978 film Convoy. The line "Breaker One-Nine," stated in the episode by the character Victoria Terpsischore (V.T.), also originates from Convoy, though it is an actual term used by truckers, "Breaker" meaning a driver is coming on to a channel, and "One-Nine" being the East-West bound travel in North America, "One-Four" being North-South travel. Watanabe said that he liked watching Convoy and Trucker Yarō as a child.[2]

8 Waltz for Venus
"Warutsu Fō Vīnasu" (ワルツ・フォー・ヴィーナス)
December 11, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
While the crew hunts down a Venusian mobster, Spike meets Rocco Bonnaro, who is on the run from the same mobster the crew is tracking for stealing a very rare and valuable plant, which he plans to sell to pay for surgery to restore his sister's eyesight.

This was another episode that was preempted on Adult Swim after the 9/11 attacks, because a hijacking is depicted in the first few minutes.[citation needed]

The character Piccaro Calvino, the bounty for the episode, was modeled after the American rapper Notorious B.I.G.[3]

9 Jamming with Edward
"Jamingu Wizu Edowādo" (ジャミング・ウィズ・エドワード)
December 18, 1998 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
The crew enlists the help of an elite computer hacker nicknamed "Radical Edward" to help them track down a bounty-head who has been vandalizing Earth's surface with hacked laser satellites. However, when they finally meet Edward face-to-face, the hacker's true identity proves to be a surprise for everybody.

The title of this episode is a reference to Jamming with Edward!, an album recorded with three members of The Rolling Stones.

10 Ganymede Elegy
"Ganimede Bojō" (ガニメデ慕情)
January 01, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Jet is even more taciturn than usual as the Bebop lands on Ganymede, his last post before leaving the ISSP and the home of his ex-girlfriend, Alisa, whom he has never quite left behind. Meanwhile, Spike pursues bounty Rhint Celonias, who just happens to be Alisa's new boyfriend.
11 Toys in the Attic
"Yamiyo no Hevi Rokku (Heavy Rock in the Dark Night)" (闇夜のヘヴィ・ロック)
January 08, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
A strange blob-like creature with a poisonous bite infiltrates the Bebop and incapacitates Jet, Faye and Ein. With half the crew out of action, it's up to Spike and Ed to destroy the creature and find out where it came from.

The title of this episode is a reference to "Toys in the Attic", a song and album title by Aerosmith.

12 Jupiter Jazz (Part 1)
"Jupitā Jazu (Zenpen)" (ジュピター・ジャズ(前編))
January 15, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Faye cleans out the crew's safe and leaves the Bebop for Callisto, one of Jupiter's moons. While Jet chases after her, Spike decides to follow up on some clues about the location of his ex-girlfriend Julia, which leads him to another confrontation with Vicious.
13 Jupiter Jazz (Part 2)
"Jupitā Jazu (Kōhen)" (ジュピター・ジャズ(後編))
January 22, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Faye is helped by Gren, a man who holds a grudge against Vicious. After explaining his story to Faye, he chases after Vicious, and when he and Spike end up reaching him at the same time, a three-way battle takes place.
XX Mish-Mash Blues
"Yoseatsume Burūsu" (よせあつめブルース)
Special (June 26, 1998) {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Due to the violence portrayed in the series, and the violence occurring at the time in Japanese schools, the series was briefly canceled and "Mish-Mash Blues" was created. The characters provide a philosophical commentary and it ends with the words: "This Is Not The End. You Will See The Real 'Cowboy Bebop' Someday!"
14 Bohemian Rhapsody
"Bohemian Rapusodi" (ボヘミアン・ラプソディ)
January 29, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
The Bebop crew hunts for Chessmaster Hex, the rumored mastermind behind a series of robberies at hyperspace gate tollbooths. However, while trying to dig up dirt on their target, they unearth some very valuable data regarding the gate accident that devastated Earth fifty years earlier.

The title of this episode is a reference to "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen.

15 My Funny Valentine
"Mai Fanī Varentain" (マイ・ファニー・ヴァレンタイン)
February 5, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Faye ends up meeting an important man from her past, and part of her origin is revealed, including the source of her massive debt.

The episode is named after the jazz standard "My Funny Valentine".[citation needed] Keiko Nobumoto, a Cowboy Bebop scriptwriter, decided to model the appearance of the character Whitney Hagas Matsumoto, the bounty of the episode, after actor George Clooney. Watanabe said that one thing he likes about animation is that one can "write in whatever actor you want cheaply."[3]

16 Black Dog Serenade
"Burakku Doggu Serenāde" (ブラック・ドッグ・セレナーデ)
February 12, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
An ISSP prison ship has undergone a mechanical malfunction, and has been taken over by the prisoners it was transporting, led by Udai Taxim, the Syndicate assassin who took Jet's arm. Jet's former partner, Fad, enlists him for the retrieval operation, but Fad's motivations might not be as noble as they seem.

This episode title is a reference to the song "Black Dog" by Led Zeppelin.

Watanabe said that the flashback scenes involving Jet were meant to have "the atmosphere of a classic hard-boiled movie." Watanabe added that the scene "probably turned too classical."[4]

17 Mushroom Samba
"Masshurūmu Sanba" (マッシュルーム・サンバ)
February 19, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
The Bebop, out of food and fuel, is sideswiped in a hit-and-run off of Europa and crash-lands on Io. Ed, with Ein by her side, is sent out to procure food, and ends up running across Domino Walker, a bounty-head who is smuggling hallucinogenic mushrooms.

Watanabe said that he took inspiration from funk and soul record jackets and 1970s Blaxploitation films to add "more spice" to this episode.[5] The names of the minor characters in this episode originate from films. For instance, Coffy's name originates from Coffy, the main character of the 1973 film Coffy. The Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4 adds that the Cowboy Bebop character Coffy has an appearance similar to the one of Jackie Brown, the main character of the film Jackie Brown. The actress Pam Grier portrayed both the 1973 film Coffy and the Jackie Brown character.[6] The character Shaft originates from the 1971 film Shaft. Volume 4 of the anime guide stated that the coffin pulling may have originated from the actions of Django, the protagonist of the spaghetti western Django. Also the volume states that the design of the character Domino may have originated from a funk record jacket.[7]

18 Speak Like a Child
"Supīku Raiku A Chairudo" (スピーク・ライク・ア・チャイルド)
February 26, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
While Faye wastes money betting on horse racing, a package addressed to her arrives on the Bebop containing an old Betamax tape, prompting Spike and Jet to look for an appropriate device to view its contents.

This episode is named after a jazz song titled "Speak Like a Child" by Herbie Hancock.[8]

19 Wild Horses
"Wairudo Hōsesu" (ワイルド・ホーセス)
March 5, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
While Spike takes his mono-racer in for maintenance, Jet and Faye take on a group of pirates who use computer viruses to terrorize cargo ships.

The Space Shuttle Columbia appears in this episode. Predictably, this episode was pulled from US syndication runs for some time following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster.

This episode is named after the song "Wild Horses" by The Rolling Stones.

Kimitoshi Yamane, a mecha designer, created the concept for the episode; Yamane envisioned that pirates would appear, the Bebop would lose control, and that a space shuttle rescues the crew.[9] The Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4 stated that the outward appearance of Doohan, a character, appears similar to that of film director Nicholas Ray.[10] The fictional team Blue Socks had inspiration from the Hanshin Tigers.[11] Spike's "dead reckoning" system using lines scored on the window of his ship to estimate entry attitude is very similar to that employed by American astronaut Gordon Cooper during the Faith 7 mission.

20 Pierrot le Fou
"Dōkeshi no Rekuiemu (Requiem for a Clown)" (道化師の鎮魂歌)
March 12, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Spike is targeted by an insane, seemingly indestructable assassin named Mad Pierrot after accidentally witnessing the killer in action.

The title makes reference to the French mime stock character Pierrot and the Jean-Luc Godard film Pierrot le fou.

21 Boogie Woogie Feng Shui
"Bugi Ugi Funshei" (ブギ・ウギ・フンシェイ)
March 19, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Jet, spurred on by a cryptic e-mail, tries to find an old acquaintance but discovers only his grave—he disappeared under mysterious circumstances. His daughter, Mei-Fa, an expert in feng shui, asks for his help finding a "sun stone" that can lead them to her father's location.

This episode is named after the song "Boogie Woogie Woman" by B. B. King.

The antagonists in this episode were modeled after John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd's characters from the SNL skits and movie Blues Brothers.

22 Cowboy Funk
"Kaubōi Fanku" (カウボーイ・ファンク)
March 26, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
A terrorist known as the "Teddy Bomber" has been using explosives hidden in teddy bears to bring down high-rise buildings in protest of humanity's excesses. Spike attempts to stop him, but constantly runs afoul of "Cowboy Andy", a fellow bounty hunter who is far more similar to Spike than either would care to admit.

The character Cowboy Andy is an homage to the character "Nobody" played by Terence Hill in Tonino Valerii's film "My Name is Nobody".

23 Brain Scratch
"Burein Sukuratchi" (ブレイン・スクラッチ)
April 02, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Unbeknownst to the rest of the crew, Faye goes undercover to infiltrate SCRATCH, a cult that believes in achieving eternal life by digitizing the soul and uploading it into the Internet, in order to collect the bounty on the cult's leader, Dr. Londes. Faye soon finds herself in danger, however, and while Spike goes looking for her, Jet and Ed try to track down Dr. Londes themselves.
24 Hard Luck Woman
"Hādo Rakku Ūman" (ハード・ラック・ウーマン)
April 09, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
The Bebop crew travels to Earth to search for Ed's real father. Meanwhile, Faye decides to investigate her past by traveling to the landmarks she sees in the video she recorded as a child. After reuniting with her father, Ed decides to leave the Bebop, taking Ein with her.

This episode title is a reference to the song "Hard Luck Woman" by Kiss.

25 The Real Folk Blues (Part 1)
"Za Riaru Fōku Burūsu (Zenpen)" (ザ・リアル・フォークブルース(前編))
April 16, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Left alone by the rest of the crew, Spike and Jet are ambushed by members of the Red Dragon syndicate. They are saved by Lin's brother, Shin, who explains that Vicious has tried to seize control of the organization and was sentenced to death. He also states that all people connected to him are also being hunted down, and Spike rushes to find Julia.

This episode is named after a series of blues compilations released between 1965 and 1967, The Real Folk Blues.

26 The Real Folk Blues (Part 2)
"Za Riaru Fōku Burūsu (Kōhen)" (ザ・リアル・フォークブルース(後編))
April 23, 1999 {{{FirstEngAirDate}}}
Reunited, Spike and Julia pick up where they left off in their plans to escape the Red Dragon syndicate, but Julia ends up being shot and killed. Spike returns to the Bebop for a meal with Jet and Faye, and then storms the Red Dragon's headquarters to confront Vicious for one last battle.

Unlike all the previous episodes, this did not use the regular animated opening credits. Instead, it features a black screen with the title logo in Katakana and English with a copyright notice in white, shown for two seconds in silence.

This episode is named after a series of blues compilations released between 1965 and 1967, The Real Folk Blues.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 71.
  2. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 73.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 78.
  4. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 12.
  5. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 20.
  6. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 27.
  7. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 30.
  8. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 34.
  9. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 56.
  10. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 50.
  11. Cowboy Bebop Anime Guide Volume 4. Tokyopop. April 2002. 53.

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