Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop Is About Memory, Both For The Characters And The Viewers

If you grew up in the USA and are between the ages of twenty and forty, there’s a good chance the title Cowboy Bebop inspires a few key memories in your head–staying up late, tuning into Toonami’s Adult Swim block, dub voice actors like Steve Blum, Beau Billingslea, and Wendee Lee–the works. For many of us, it was a foundational experience with anime as a genre, especially in the days before streaming services and subtitled simulcasts, and as such, it unsurprisingly occupies a special place in countless hearts and minds.

More importantly, the nostalgic pedestal it sits on for so many is well earned. It’s hard to imagine a show that showcases the breadth of what anime is able to do as a medium better than Bebop, with it’s effortless blend of genres, styles, and influences. It was completely unlike any of the Western cartoons of its day, and mostly unlike the other anime shows available in the West at the time as well–keeping in mind that for many, watching anime was an exercise in putting together disparate VHS tapes and scouring GeoCities web rings for episode summaries. Space bounty hunting may not have been a totally unique concept, but the adventures of Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine, Jet Black, and Radical Edward were. They were so unique, in fact, that it’s actually difficult to explain just what Bebop is really “about” without meandering through different one-off episodes, memorable side characters, and favorite songs on the soundtrack.

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Author: Mason Downey