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Cowboy Bebop is a Japanese neo-noir sci-fi western anime series that debuted in 1998 on TV Tokyo before getting cancelled due to low ratings. Eventually all 26 episodes were salvaged by satellite network Wowow, but it became even more popular in the U.S. where it was the first anime series on Adult Swim, airing its complete 26-episode run in rotation since 2001.
The original manga, Cowboy Bebop: Shooting Star written by Cain Kuga ran from 1997 to 1998 in only two volumes, and it was adapted into anime by animation studio Sunrise.
The series is set in the year 2071 and centers around a group of bounty hunters who hunt criminals aboard their ship, the Bebop. The crew consists of laidback Spike Spiegel, Bebop owner Jet Black, gambling amnesiac Faye Valentine, hacker prodigy Ed, and "data dog" Ein, who is an actual dog.
The first episode, "Asteroid Blues," begins in flashback with Spike waiting near a church holding a bouquet of flowers, only to leave when the church bells ring, images of a gunfight he participated in earlier flashing within the scene as well.
In the present, Spike and Jet head for the Tijuana asteroid colony to track down a criminal named Asimov Solensan who is wanted for killing members of his own crime syndicate as well as stealing a dangerous combat-enhancing drug called Bloody-Eye.
When Asimov and his girlfriend Katerina attempt to sell a vial of Bloody-Eye at a bar, they are ambushed by Asimov's former syndicate, but Asimov uses the drug to fight his way out of danger.
Spike confronts Asimov by posing as a drug dealer and more mayhem ensues as they fight over possession of the drug and Asimov continues to pump himself with Bloody-Eye, to the concern of his girlfriend/partner-in-crime Katerina.
I have only seen the first episode of this series so far but it is off to a rousing start. The action scenes are violent but not too gratuitous, the character of Spike is a typical antihero but thanks to some flashback-assisted layering, his fun-loving personality brings with it a level of mystery, and the story of crime couple Asimov and Katerina has a dramatically memorable conclusion.
Nice to finally see what I was missing all those years I didn't watch this show as a kid. I am only one episode in and it is already one of my favorite animated series.
I will follow up on this review if there are any significant or noteworthy changes in the show's run, but I also encourage people to watch this show themselves. It took me over a decade to get into it but I'm glad it finally happened.