Spike Spiegel, Jet Black & Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop)

Created by Yutaka Nanten

SPIKE SPIEGAL and JET BLACK were bounty hunters of the future on the hit TV show Cowboy Bebop, who were found on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim time slot back in the early naughties. There’s a difference between them and most bounty hunters, though–these guys are animated. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s just another cartoon—it’s some kinda neo-noir space western masterpiece.

This is anime, or Japanese animation. Of course, anime has a reputation for being ultra-violent and ultra-cool, and this one, definitely aimed at adults, was no exception. And Spike and Jet aren’y your run-of-the-mill grubby bounty hunters either–they’re registered intergalactic bounty hunters (aka “cowboys”) working for the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP) in 2171, tasked with chasing down fugitives on their spaceship Bebop all over the solar system.

Chain-smoking Spike is a lanky, cool-as-all-git-out twenty-something slacker with the kung-fu skills of Bruce Lee and the gun-slinging skills of Chow Yun-Fat in John Woo movies directed by John Woo. Those skills allow him to take on even the most dangerous opponents without breaking a sweat. Spike is the field man, who goes out to catch the big-money criminals.

Spike’s partner, Jet, is a beefy ex-cop from the ISSP (Inter-Solar System Police) who sports a cybernetic arm. He’s a middle-aged grouch who conceals his gentle heart with a gruff, battered exterior. He holds down the fort on the spaceship Bebop, and collects information to help Spike track down the bad guys.

Along for the ride more often than not is their spunky would-be partner FAYE VALENTINE, an amnesiac scam artiast who always seems to have an agenda or two that may—or may not—align with Spike and and Jet’s.

But that doesn’t really begin to capture the wonderful perfection that is Cowboy Bebop. It’s become one of the most popular anime shows in Japan and North America. And it’s easy to see why: it’s a sizzling stir fry of some of the best of Western and Asian pop culture, all in one dazzling package, with plenty of little pop culture shout-outs to American buddy movies, 70’s cop shows, Quentin Tarantino, Alien, blaxploitation flicks, Batman: The Animated Series, Akira Kurosawa, hard-boiled and noir fiction, Hong Kong heroic bloodshed, and, of course, the American cowboy. To name just a few.

The show was also very accessible, even for non-anime fans. Far too man shows, like Dragon Ball Z and Gundam Wing, are seemingly endless serials which demand viewers watch every episode in order to understand the storyline. But Cowboy Bebop‘s episodes are for the most part self-contained 25-minute stories, so a viewer doesn’t have to start at the beginning to become a fan. Okay, there is a set of five episodes that explore the troubled past of Spike that are sprinkled throughout the series. But these episodes are masterpieces of storytelling, character, and art. They raise an otherwise smart, slick show to heavenly entertainment.

Fans called this show a life-changing experience. And judging from all the merchandise (Videogames! Figurines! T-shirts! Underwear!) that cluttered the marketplace, they were a devoted bunch. Besides mangas, including several scripted by creator Yutaka Nanten, there were also numerous episode guides, and a full-length feature film, Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku No Tobira, was released in 2001 in Japanes, and later dubbed into English.

There was something in this show that truly offered something for every adult, whether they were looking for exciting action, cool sci-fi technology, comedy, or heart-breaking drama. Just watch it!


That the show had a cult following was a given. But it was still a surprise (at least to me) when Netflix announced a new live action series would be released in late 2021. It had a decent budget, a kickin’ soundtrack, and a really decent cast, with John Cho particularly effective as Spike, while Mustafa Shakir as Jet and Daniella Pineda as Faye more than held up their end. And the head writer was Christopher Yost, whose previous credits included Justified.

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it, and in fact I pretty much binged it. The 10-episode series was released on November 19, but by December 9—less than a month later—Netflix pulled the plug, citing poor reviews, but I think it was more about bean counting than actual criticism, and I’m pretty sure a lot of the online carping was from thirty-somethings suddenly realizing they can’t be fourteen again, like they were when they first discovered the show.

Me? I even liked the comic book mini-series that Titan Comics put out, which featured a clever four-part original story, “Supernova Swing.”



  • COWBOY BEBOP Buy on DVD Buy on Blu-Ray Watch it now!
    (1998, Bandai Visual/Sunrise)
    26 30-minute episodes
    Created by Yutaka Nanten
    Writers: Yutaka Nanten, Akihiko Inari, Sadayuki Murai , Keiko Nobumoto, Dai Sato, Shinichiro Watanabe, Ryota Yamaguchi, Michiko Yokote
    Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe
    Japanese Version
    Starring the voices of Kôichi Yamadera as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Unshô Ishizuka as JET BLACK
    and Megumi Hayashibara as FAYE VALENTINE
    Also starring Aoi Tada, Gara Takashima, Norio Wakamoto, Miki Nagasawa, Tsutomu Taruki, Takehiro Koyama, Hitoshi Hirao, Nakajima Akihiko, Hiroshi Naka
    Dubbed English Version
    Writers: Marc Handler
    Starring the voices of David Lucas as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Beau Billingslea as JET BLACK
    and Wendee Lee as FAYE VALENTINE
    Also starring Melissa Charles, George C. Cole,Mona Marshall, Jonathan C. Osborne, Lia Sargent , Melissa Williamson

    • Original U.S. Broadcast Dates
    • “Asteroid Blues” (September 2, 2001)
    • “Stray Dog Strut” (September 2, 2001)
    • “Honky Tonk Women” (September 9, 2001)
    • “Gateway Shuffle” (September 9, 2001)
    • “Ballad of Fallen Angels” (September 23, 2001)
    • “Heavy Metal Queen” (September 23, 2001)
    • “Jamming with Edward” (September 30, 2001)
    • “Ganymede Elegy” (September 30, 2001)
    • “Toys in the Attic” (October 7, 2001)
    • “Jupiter Jazz” (Part 1) (October 7, 2001)
    • “Jupiter Jazz” (Part 2) (October 14, 2001)
    • “Bohemian Rhapsody” (October 14, 2001)
    • “My Funny Valentine” (October 21, 2001)
    • “Black Dog Serenade” (October 21, 2001)
    • “Mushroom Samba” (October 28, 2001)
    • “Speak Like a Child” (October 28, 2001)
    • Wild Horses” (November 4, 2001)
    • “Pierrot Le Fou” (November 4, 2001)
    • “Boogie Woogie Feng Shui” (November 11, 2001)
    • “Brain Scratch” (November 11, 2001)
    • “Hard Luck Woman” (November 18, 2001)
    • “The Real Folk Blues” (Part 1) (November 18, 2001)
    • “The Real Folk Blues” (Part 2) (November 25, 2001)
    • “Sympathy for the Devil” (December 16, 2001)
    • “Waltz for Venus” (December 23, 2001)
    • “Cowboy Funk” (February 15, 2002)
    (2021, Netflix)
    10 39-50 minute episodes
    Based on characters created by Yutaka Nanten
    Developed by Chrisopher Yost
    Directors: Starring John Cho as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Mustafa Shakir as JET BLACK
    and Daniella Pineda as FAYE VALENTINE
    Also starring Elena Satine as Julia
    and Alex Hassell as Vicious
    Also starring Tamara Tunie, Mason Alexander Park, Ira Munn, Lucy Currey, Geoff Stults, Carmel McGlone, Rachel House, Ann Truong, Hoa Xuande, John Noble, Adrienne Barbeau


    (2001, Columbia)
    120 minutes
    Language: Japanese, with English subtites
    Screenplay by Keiko Nobumoto
    Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe
    Original music by Yôko Kanno
    Starring Kôichi Yamadera as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    Unshô Ishizuka as JET BLACK
    and Megumi Hayashibara as Faye Valentine
    Also starring Aoi Tada, Nakajima Akihiko, Mickey Curtis, Hitoshi Hirao, Renji Ishibashi, Tsutomu Isobe, Ai Kobayashi, Miki Nagasawa, Hiroshi Naka, Tsutomu Taruki
    (aka “Coboy Bebop: The Movie”)

    Language: English (Dubbed)
    Starring Beau Billingslea as JET BLACK
    David Lucus as SPIKE SPIEGEL
    and Wendee Lee as FAYE VALENTINE
    Also starring Melissa Charles



    (2022, Titan Comics)
    4 issues
    Written by Dan Watters
    Art by Larmar Mathurin

    • “Supernova Swing (Part One)” (February 2022, #1)
    • “Supernova Swing (Part Two)” (March 2022, #2)
    • “Supernova Swing (Part Three)” (May 2022, #3)
    • “Supernova Swing (Part Four)” (July 2022, #4)



  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 1 (2002) Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 2 (2002) Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 3 (2002) Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 4 (2002) Buy this book
  • Cowboy Bebop Complete Anime Guide Volume 5 (2002) Buy this book


  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 1 (2000)Buy this DVD
  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 2 (2000) Buy this DVD
  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 3 (2000) Buy this DVD
  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 4 (2000) Buy this DVD
  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 5 (2000) Buy this DVD
  • Cowboy Bebop: Session 6 (2000) Buy this DVD
    Each DVD contains 4 or 5 or so episodes, and are bilingual (Japanese/English)
  • Cowboy Bebop – The Perfect Sessions (2001) Buy this DVD
    Limited edition boxed set contains complete series, original soundtrack CD, interviews with cast and creators, trailers, etc. 7 CDs.
  • Cowboy BeBop: The Complete Series (2014) Buy on DVD Buy on Blu-Ray
    Re-released complete series, now on Blu-Ray as well.


  • Anime Jump!: Cowboy Bebop
    The review that fired my interest in Cowboy Bebop. There are pictures in the sidebar and good commentary on the show.
  • Animeworld.com Review of Cowboy Bebop
    This was and still is the most extensive, detailed review I’ve read about Cowboy Bebop. Don’t worry, for all the info there are no spoilers.
Respectfully submitted by our man in Hawaii, Bluefox, with additional info by Kevin Burton Smith. And thanks, Marcus…

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