June 13, 2024 review

See you later, space cowboy…

Christian Yeung in Connecticut, United States
Rating: filled star filled star filled star filled star filled star

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"Cowboy Bebop" director Shinichirō Watanabe

Picture by: Wikipedia

Set in the not-so-distant future, where humans have finally reached the stars and developed a dysfunctional multi-planetary society, Cowboy Bebop is part Western, part space opera, part neo-noir, and all fun.

We follow the bounty-hunting adventures of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Ed, and Ein. Together, they ride across the galaxy aboard the Bebop, a rundown spaceship. There are 26 episodesin total – relatively short in anime terms.

Obviously, spoilers ahead. I saw whispers about Cowboy Bebop on internet forums and decided to give it a go. So what is it that makes this 25 year-old anime – currently available on Netflix – so enticing?

Let’s start with the music, written and played by the band Seatbelts, led by composer Yoko Kanno. According to Japanese magazine Sabukaru, the creator of the show Shinichiro Watanabe ‘revolutionised animation with one idea’ by bringing anime and music together.

Cowboy Bebop was my first introduction to bebop, and I instantly fell in love with it after listening to the opening sequence. The song’s introduction summarises the entire genre, when a voice calls out “get everybody and the stuff together. OK, three, two, one, let’s jam!”



Bebop is rhythmic and, more importantly, improvised, leading to an all-round crazy listening experience. Besides the chaotic bebop tracks, there’s also a mix of blues and softer jazz to balance out the increasingly emotional journey of the anime.

Almost every episode is named in reference to music, my favourites being Asteroid Blues and Jupiter Jazz.

The art style is a masterpiece in its own right, with a huge range of colors depending on the episode. It’s hard to express the beauty of it all, but this video does a good job of capturing some of the best shots.

Take the first episode, Asteroid Blues, for example. We see a mysterious man in a city. The entire scene is blanketed in a dark blue, almost black-and-white colour palette. The shots are disjointed, but for some reason it’s beautiful, especially with a music box playing softly in the background. Then the camera cuts to a rose in a puddle; the red petals slowly grow more vibrant, interspersed by flashbacks to a shootout. It’s confusing for sure, but you’re intrigued now.

The man starts to smile as scarlet blood rolls down his face, then the credit sequence launches in. The rest of the episode is set in space as Spike and Jet chase after a bounty. We realize that Spike is the man from the introduction, but the context is not discussed.

Soon, you forget about that whole interaction, and the final shot of the episode is the Bebop floating in space with the words ‘See You Space Cowboy’, before the credits roll. But then there it is again, the red rose contrasting against the black and white.

Choosing to tell its story in an unusual way, Cowboy Bebop introduces characters slowly, with Ein the psychic dog in episode two, Faye, a sassy heroine, joining in episode three, and finally Ed, a genius hacker, in episode nine.

Through these initial meetings, we see the surface levels of each character and their shallow personalities, but with flashbacks, and a natural progression of encountering old friends, more of their stories are subsequently revealed.

Yet in the end, it would just be a short and sweet intersection of journeys, before they part ways in search of their own.

The show presents itself as a silly, comedic, casual show through art and music. Yet, as the anime inches closer to its finale, you realize it is a profound meditation on life and how much love and death affect even the strangest characters.

It’s an emotional rollercoaster, which ends with the final words ‘You will carry that weight’. What is that weight, you ask? Well, there’s only one way to find out! So buckle up and please, you don’t need to love anime, but just appreciate a good story to enjoy the masterpiece that is Cowboy Bebop.

Written by:


Christian Yeung

Society editor

Hong Kong | United States

Born in 2006 in Hong Kong, Christian Yeung studies at the Taft School in Connecticut. His interests range from playing video games such as The Last of Us and Sekiro, listening to vinyls, and cooking anything from Tonkotsu ramen to crêpe suzette. He loves English and history as well as reading and writing intriguing stories.

He joined the Harbingers’ Editorial Board as a Society editor, encapsulating his many interests which he continues to find more of every day.

He speaks Cantonese, English and Mandarin.

Edited by:


Justin Sau

Culture editor

Hong Kong, SAR


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