Cowboy Bebop (カウボーイビバップ Kauboi Bibappu) (1998) is a Japanese Anime
, motion picture, and Manga
. It follows the adventures of a group of bounty hunters travelling on a spaceship, the Bebop, in the year 2071.
Cowboy Bebop was a commercial success in the United States and featured on Cartoon Network's late-night "Adult Swim" programming block. Sony Pictures released the Cowboy Bebop movie, Knockin' on Heaven's Door to United States theatres and was followed by a DVD release. Two Cowboy Bebop manga series were created based on the TV show, and a Playstation 2 video game, which as of 2006 has no United States release date.
Cowboy Bebop is strongly influenced by American culture, especially the jazz movements of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s (hence "bebop") with nearly all of its action sequences (from space battles to hand-to-hand martial arts combat) set and timed to music. Music is, in fact, a driving force within the series. Episodes are called Sessions (in refrence to musicians playing a "jam session"), and frequently use titles taken directly or adapted from jazz and rock albums, or song titles within those (and other) genres.
In the year 2071, the crew of the spaceship Bebop travel the solar system trying to apprehend bounties. In the slang of the era, "Cowboys" are bounty hunters, hence the name of the series. Most episodes revolve around a bounty; however the overall focus of the show concerns the deep pasts of each character, which unravel and connect as the series progresses.
One of the plotlines focuses on Spike Spiegel
, a former member of the Red Dragon crime syndicate who is haunted by a past love triangle between his former syndicate partner, Vicious
, and a mysterious woman named Julia
Other plotlines of the Bebop crew members include those of Jet Black
, a former ISSP officer on the Jovian moon Ganymede; Faye Valentine
, an indebted gambler awakened from cryogenic slumber; Edward, a genius girl computer hacker who can hack at 10 times the speed of an expert hacker, and Ein, a revolutionary "Data Dog;" a dog with data encoded within its DNA.
In the year 2021, a series of ring-shaped hyperspace gateways were constructed across the solar system, allowing for easy interplanetary travel. Unfortunately, the gate network contained a fatal instability that was ignored by the contractors who built the system. The instability grew until a gateway near Earth exploded, releasing a powerful burst of energy that cracked the Moon. In a disaster referred to as "The Gate Incident", meteoric debris from the Moon destroyed much of Earth's surface, killing billions. People mostly live underground, as debris continues to rain down on the planet daily, although a sizeable number of people refuse to leave or simply can't afford to. Some of those that stayed behind are also hackers who sharpen their skills by training on abandoned communication satellites that still orbit the planet. Most, however, left Earth after the Gate Incident and spread out across the solar system, living in colonies on Venus, Mars, some habitable asteroids, the moons of Saturn and the Galilean moons of Jupiter as well as many space stations.
It is notable that the total population for the Solar System of 2071 is only about 1.3 billion. Assuming that the population of Earth in 2021 was greater than 6 billion (as on present-day Earth), the explosion of the gate was the worst disaster to ever befall humankind — at least 4.7 billion lives were lost.
Some of the colonies are more hospitable than others, but all planets and moons seen in the series except for Mars are terraformed. This situation points to the soft sci-fi nature of the series, since Mars is often considered the most easily terraformable planet, while terraforming the others, particularly within the next century is considered an impossible undertaking.
Mars is one example of bustling activity in the Solar System as its many domed impact craters were transformed into thriving metropolitan areas for those who can afford it. With the planet of Venus being terraformed, its aftereffects left many oxygen-providing plants floating around in the atmosphere. The spores of these plants ultimately cause “Venus Sickness” for some people. Not only do poor people live on Venus, but the unlucky that catch this sickness may eventually go blind or even die as a result. Many moons of Jupiter like Callisto, Io, and Ganymede have been terraformed and colonized, though some to more of an extent than others. Rough Callisto is a dreary, hostile, and poverty-ridden cold moon (with the city of Blue Crow having an all male population); Io is a toxic, volcanic, arid ball of sand, while Ganymede is almost completely surrounded by water and known for its fishing industry. Titan, Saturn's largest moon, is a barren desert world which has been at war since the 2060s (Titan War II in 2068 which was survived by veterans such as Vincent Volaju, Gren, and Vicious). There is even a Solar System Penitentiary on Pluto. Lastly, some asteroids have been colonized for their minerals and other natural resources.
Most importantly to the general plot of the series, sometime after the advent of space travel, the bounty system of the Old West was reinstated by the government to help curb growing crime levels. Bounty hunters are encouraged to capture criminals and return them (alive and relatively unharmed) to the authorities for a large reward. In addition, ruthless crime syndicates still have much influence in the Solar System, including bribery, murder, extortion, drug dealing, money laundering and other criminal offences. At some point between the present day and the events of Cowboy Bebop, the Woolong was established as a universal currency. Paper money is becoming less frequent as most people carry convenient money cards and rely on digital transfers.
The technology in the world of Cowboy Bebop has undergone advancements to accommodate 21st century life in the Solar System. In order to make travel between hyperspace gates faster and more efficient, a variety of spaceships are used. Most are designed to simply accommodate a single-pod cockpit that can be ejected and navigated independently of the ship itself. The system of operation for a majority of these spaceships is known as the “Machine Operation Navigation of Outer Space,” or simply, “MONO.” Medical advancements such as artificial organs and cryogenic freezing have been mastered and are in full use. Devices called “Alpha Catch” capture images and movies onto a monitor from the brain of a person that it is hooked up to. Virtual reality gaming is the standard and analog hardware such as videocassettes (VHS or beta) is obsolete. Finally, the Internet, once known as the World Wide Web, has evolved into a massive Solar System Web (SSW).
- From Wikipedia