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Cowboy Bebop spaceport

The crew line up on a spaceport landing pad. Left to right: Ein the Data dog, Ed, Spike Siegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine

Wikipedia:Template:Cowboy Bebop

Once upon a time, in New York City in 1941... at this club open to all comers to play, night after night, at a club named "Minston's Play House" in Harlem, they play jazz sessions competing with each other. Young jazz men with a new sense are gathering. At last they created a new genre itself. They are sick and tired of the conventional fixed style jazz. They're eager to play jazz more freely as they wish then... in 2071 in the universe... The bounty hunters, who are gathering in the spaceship "BEBOP", will play freely without fear of risky things. They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called... COWBOY BEBOP[1] - The text which appears behind the 1960s-styled animation in the opening credits

The anime series Cowboy Bebop (WP) was a lovingly drawn and syncretic series. Extremely rarely for anime, its English voice acting was as good or better than the Japanese. Its 1960s retro was most visible in the anime version, appearing in the theme tune and intro. Cowboy Bebop's art direction centers around American music and counterculture (WP), especially the Wikipedia:Beat Generation (WP) and Jazz (WP) movements of the 1940s-60s and the early rock and roll (WP) era of the 1950s-70s, which the original soundtrack by Wikipedia:Yoko Kanno and Wikipedia:The Seatbelts recreates.[2] It was adapted into two manga (WP) series which ran in the shōjo manga magazine Wikipedia:Asuka Fantasy DX.

Episodes are called "sessions", each episode follows a different musical theme,[3] and episode titles are borrowed from notable album or song names (i.e. "Wikipedia:Sympathy for the Devil", "Wikipedia:Bohemian Rhapsody", "Wikipedia:Honky Tonk Women", "Wikipedia:My Funny Valentine") or make use of a genre name ("Mushroom Samba", "Heavy Metal Queen").

After this elaborate retro setup, there is, perhaps unexpectedly, nothing whatsoever 1960s, rock and roll, or anything, really, about the storyline or characters or plot or setting, other than elements of their clothing, and the characters being quite loose and free to have style or even quirks. No one in Cowboy Bebop is really very much of what hippies would have called, "square". Edward, for example, manages to pull off an androgynous personality, where almost every other such character achieves it with their clothing or hair or bone structure. But it is sort of sad that after this much use of 1960s imagery and music, that there is more about (albeit safely redneck-free) Citizens Band / Trucking culture in the Cowboy Bebop stories than there is about the Sixties.

Some of what Hippies assimilated from other cultures is present, including the omnipresent martial arts of Spike, Eastern Mysticism and even American Indian shamanistic divination.


The series was created by "Wikipedia:Hajime Yatate," a collective pseudonym for members of the staff at Sunrise, the Wikipedia:animation studio that also developed Wikipedia:Mobile Suit Gundam, Big O, Wikipedia:Outlaw Star and Wikipedia:Vision of Escaflowne. Cowboy Bebop was directed by Wikipedia:Shinichiro Watanabe, who also directed Wikipedia:Macross Plus, Wikipedia:Samurai Champloo and the two short films Wikipedia:A Detective Story and Wikipedia:Kid's Story from the Wikipedia:Animatrix. The music of Cowboy Bebop was all composed by Wikipedia:Yoko Kanno, who also composed music for Wikipedia:Earth Girl Arjuna, Wikipedia:Macross Plus, Wikipedia:Vision of Escaflowne, Wikipedia:Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Wikipedia:Wolf's Rain.

The Cowboy Bebop movie was animated by Wikipedia:Studio BONES, a new studio created by many former employees of Sunrise, and was one of their first projects. They have since developed other popular series like Wikipedia:RahXephon, Wikipedia:Wolf's Rain, and Wikipedia:Fullmetal Alchemist.

Setting Edit

Interior shots are to be expected in a series about life on board a spacecraft, and became considerably more common after Ridley Scott's Alien made obvious the inevitability of claustrophobic space-saving in a capitalist space-trucking industry. But in Cowboy Bebop, the corridors and air ducts are balanced with a healthy dose of fresh air in the many on-planet outdoor scenes

In the year 2021 AD, the first "Astral Gate" is built in orbit around the Moon; a hyperspace gateway meant to expedite Wikipedia:space colonization by making travel between planets a matter of days instead of months or years. This gate, due to an internal defect, is destroyed in an incident that comes to be known as the "Gate Accident"; the gate exploded, and a massive blast of energy erupted from the gate and cracked the surface of the Moon, destroying a large part of it. Lunar debris immediately began to fall upon the Earth, devastating the planet's surface and killing 4.7 billion people. Fifty years later the human race numbers only 1.6 billion, but has colonized the entire Wikipedia:Solar System through the use of perfected Gates.

While the Earth is still inhabited, its few remaining denizens must shelter themselves from the continuing rock falls in underground cities. With reconstruction rendered impossible by the rock falls, the human race instead terraformed other bodies of the Solar System including a variety of Wikipedia:space habitats and industrialized Wikipedia:asteroids. This solar community maintains a high level of racial and cultural diversity, and continues to use a large number of different languages, artwork and governments. However, its economy is predominantly Asian, using a nondivisible Wikipedia:currency called the #Woolong.

The population crash has led to a relative stagnation in technological development, though the Gates make space travel relatively easy. Directed energy weapons exist, but are large and dependent on heavy power sources. Gunpowder-based projectile weapons are the mainstay of combat, and many gun models from the beginning of the 20th century continue to be widely used.

As the Gates make it possible to cross the System in a matter of weeks, it became unfeasible for law enforcement to pursue criminals away from a given world. Criminal activity increased at every level of society; small-time criminals could act with relative impunity, and ruthless crime syndicates became as powerful as multinational corporations. In response, the bounty system was reinstated throughout the System.

"Big Shot" a regular television broadcast featuring "Punch" and "Judy" (but not as much slapstick) encourages bounty hunters to capture criminals and return them (not always alive) to the authorities for monetary rewards. The historical precedent of Old West Bounty hunters was not lost on the authorities, with the African-American Punch and the Caucasian Judy dressed as cowboy and cowgirl, and an overall western motif and in the slang of the space era, the term "Cowboys" refers to bounty hunters. The program offers information to bounty hunters and the public (similar to the true crime shows of late 20th and early 21st C television such as Cold Case Files and the like.

The Bebop is made up of a bridge, general living quarters, storage for food and supplies, and a small hangar to allow docking of smaller one-man space vessels.

The technology in the world of Cowboy Bebop is a mixture of the futuristic (cybernetics, jump gates, energy weapons) and the modern (wheeled cars, handguns, zippo-styled lighters), both of which are blended together. Yet, as is to be expected from being used, even the "new" technology often looks a bit old and battered.

Woolong Edit

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The woolong is the universal currency used by humanss in the Sol solar system (and possibly surrounding galaxy-Mars is mentioned, but not other planets). It is usually transacted directly from one account to another using portable electronic devices which can network to ATMs and each other, and only rarely carried as actual paper currency. While never explicitly said, one woolong is assumed to be equivalent to one modern [[Wikipedia:Japanese yen]|Japanese Yen] (0.008612 US dollars). This is consistent with the bounties of various bounty heads, where a 500,000 is considered "small" ($4300 or 3000 Euros) and a "huge" bounty is 300,000,000 woolongs ($25 million or 18 million Euros), while a single watermelon in a situation of scarcity is 1000 woolongs ($8 or 6 Euros).

The symbol for woolong is ₩, which is similar to the currency symbol for the Korean won (Unicode 20A9 hexadecimal, 8361 decimal).

Note that "woolong" is also a way to spell oolong, as in the tea (WP), although it is doubtful that this means anything in regard to the fictional currency.

Although one woolong is probably the smallest unit of currency in the Bebop universe, there is one instance in which a bounty amount was actually posted with a string of zeroes to 9 decimal places; however, it turns out that this was due to the eccentricity of the poster, who switched the comma used for the thousands separator with the period used for the decimal separator, resulting in Jet and Spike chasing a 50 woolong bounty when they expected fifty million.


Chinese philosophy Edit

Laughing Bull, the American Indian shaman, calls spike swimming bird. In Chinese mythology a Jain is a 1 eyed (spike) 1 winged (jet) water bird. That are said to have to live dependent upon each other in order to fly. Jian is also a central theme of the dao de jing one of the 3 treasures. P'u is translated as "uncarved block" or "simplicity". It is a metaphor for the state of wu wei and the principle of jian. It represents a passive state of receptiveness. P'u is a symbol for a state of pure potential and perception without prejudice. In this state, Taoists believe everything is seen as it is, without preconceptions or illusion. P'u is seen as keeping oneself in the primordial state of tao. It is believed to be the true nature of the mind, unburdened by knowledge or experiences. In the state of p'u, there is no right or wrong, beautiful or ugly. There is only pure experience, or awareness, free from learned labels and definitions. It is this state of being that is the goal of following wu wei.

Kabuki theater Edit

It is more likely that Kabuki's style and meaning draw a net over human experience wide (and vaguely?) enough that all things, even Cowboy Bebop, may be said to be represented therein. However, the similarities are exhaustively drawn by this WP contributor (deleted, of course, back in December 2005) Cowboy Bebop's influences are many and varied. Many prominent themes present in the TV series have evolved from thematic elements originally present in Kabuki theater. Indeed, one of the defining aspects of Kabuki Theater is the makeup, called Kumadori, worn by the actors, especially those playing dramatic roles. In Kabuki theater, kumadori supposedly depicts the Wikipedia:essence of the character being played. The bold lines of color highlight the eyes, cheekbones, and jaw line, which help to emphasize the emotional responsiveness of the character. Kumadori also gives some support to the character portrayal of the actor who would have to maintain a particular facial expression for long periods of time. The style of make-up is standardised for each role. In many Kabuki plays, the central theme is transformation. Not only are many masks used, but the same actor will play many different roles. Often in Kabuki, the same actor would suddenly transform into another character by changing his kamadori or costume. This technique, which has always been a defining characteristic of Kabuki theater, is called quick change.

Cowboy Bebop inverts these notions of masking and quick change by presenting two sides of the same character in two different animated characters, instead of one actor playing two different characters. For example, Spike is depicted as the alter ego of Vicious.

The story explains the relationship between Spike and Vicious as having started in the Red Dragon syndicate. As the top two soldiers in the syndicate, Spike and Vicious became friends. Their relationship crumbled when Spike left the syndicate after they both fell in love with a girl named Julia. Julia was then commissioned by Vicious to kill Spike, but she refused. At the end of the series, Vicious and Spike end up killing each other.

Both Spike and Vicious are drawn very similarly: both have the same facial features and tall, lanky stature. The dialogue between the two also suggests the characters represent two sides of the same character. Right before the dénouement, Vicious says to Spike, "I’m the only one who can kill you," to which Spike replies, "let's finish this."

  • Spike embodies the iconic male protagonist in most Kabuki plays: the iconoclastic samurai, a character who is a playboy and a rascal, but also determined and independent.
  • Faye, Spike's female counterpart, embodies the iconic female protagonist in the classic Kabuki play: she is sassy and smart and has a mysterious past.

Ed and Ein represent different sides of the same character. Both characters are usually seen together, both characters have trouble relating to the other members of the crew, and both characters walk off into the sunset together at the end of episode 24. Together, these characters personify the arcane futuristic intergalactic society of Cowboy Bebop. On the surface, these are characters with very limited abilities, but both of these characters possess superhuman computer hacking abilities, which in the world of Cowboy Bebop, makes them invaluable crewmembers.

One of the things that makes Cowboy Bebop so intriguing is the way the characters move. Each character has his or her own style of moving, talking and fighting. Fighting in Cowboy Bebop is akin to dancing in Kabuki, all the fight scenes are set to music, which sets the tempo of the fight. The facial gestures of each character are also meticulously drawn and individually designed.

Each of the main characters has his or her own walk, just like each character in a kabuki play. Fighting is a form of dance in Cowboy Bebop, as the main characters Spike, Vicious, Jet, and Faye all have their own unique fighting styles. The way in which Kabuki characters walk and move is one of the most conspicuous aspects of Kabuki play-acting. In a Kabuki play, each type of character has his or her own style of walking: for example the masculine walk of a samurai is called "Rumpo." Furthermore, Kabuki has always been associated with dance, in fact, the character for "bu" in Kabuki means dance. As with the fights in Cowboy Bebop, the majority of Kabuki dances are solos, which remain the prerogative of the principal characters. They are replete with symbolic gesture, and are usually accompanied by music. Thus, Cowboy Bebop does not contain thematic elements of Kabuki theater, per se, but rather the television series employs evolved species of many of the elements originally present in Kabuki theater.

Other influences Edit

Cowboy Bebop's influences are many and varied.

  • Cowboy Bebop is heavily influenced by American culture: from cinema, including mobster movies, Wikipedia:film noir, and westerns, to the jazz music out of the Wikipedia:Harlem nightclubs of the 1940s. It is referred to as Space Jazz by its creators - as opposed to Wikipedia:Space Opera, although it has strong similarities to the character-centered action-packed genre - probably for its lighter side, as it is more humorous than the standard Space Opera, often poking fun at the genre.
  • Spike's lanky and laid-back character was heavily influenced by the charismatic thief Lupin the 3rd, from the anime and manga Wikipedia:Lupin III, and they have similar characteristics. Likewise, Jet was influenced by Lupin's partner Jigen. Tributes to Lupin are peppered throughout the show, including characters wearing clothing worn by the cast in the Lupin series, and some of Lupin's cars, especially the famous yellow Wikipedia:Fiat 500 from the movie Wikipedia:The Castle of Cagliostro, appearing in scenes or in the background.
  • Spike's character had mainly been attributed by creators to the Japanese actor Wikipedia:Yusaku Matsuda from the Japanese TV series and movie entitled Wikipedia:Tantei Monogatari. It is from Matsuda that Spike is credited for receiving his unique hair style and other physical features.
  • As suggested by the series' title, Wikipedia:Westerns play a major influence on Cowboy Bebop. Like most Westerns, the main characters are nomadic, self reliant individuals with personal moral codes, the weapon of choice for most dramatic scenes is a handgun, and episodes often revolve around codes of honor and themes of morality. There are also more explicit western influences such as Spike Spiegel's character's influence from the Wikipedia:Man With No Name, a cowboy bounty hunter played by Wikipedia:Clint Eastwood in the Wikipedia:Dollars Trilogy by Wikipedia:Sergio Leone, and one of the funniest antagonists in anime, Cowboy Andy, the naive poseur cowboy/bounty hunter with steed who contrasts with Spike's darker antihero cowboy.
  • According to mechanical designer Kimitoshi Yamane's notes, Spike's Swordfish II MONO racer was inspired by Britain's Wikipedia:Fairey Swordfish torpedo-bomber of World War II. The Cowboy Bebop movie includes a cameo of the Fairey Swordfish along with a dialogue reference to the sinking of the Bismarck battleship (Fairey Swordfish bombers were crucial to the sinking of the Bismarck). There is also fan speculation that the Swordfish II is based on the Swordfish, an experimental airplane in Wikipedia:Edgar P. Jacobs' comic series Wikipedia:Blake and Mortimer, although the creators have not stated this.
  • The eponymous character from the episode "Pierrot Le Fou" was influenced by Wikipedia:Alan Moore's Wikipedia:V for Vendetta. The villain of the episode is a creation of a government laboratory project that involves physical and mental torture and which ultimately goes horrifically wrong, producing an uncontrollable and unmatchable killer who slays the staff working on him and escapes. Although this character shares physical appearance (itself based on British revolutionary Wikipedia:Guy Fawkes) and dominating combat competence with the protagonist of V for Vendetta, he has neither his mental prowess nor his political motivation as a basis for his homicidal activities. The episode's name is also a reference to the Wikipedia:Jean-Luc Godard crime film Wikipedia:Pierrot le fou (1965), in which the assassin Tompu is brainwashed. Many fans thought that the episode was a tribute to The Joker, The Penguin, and Wikipedia:Batman: The Animated Series.
  • In the episode "Ganymede Elegy", Jet's past relationship with Alisa is similar to that of the husband's and wife's from Wikipedia:Henrik Ibsen's play The Doll House. Alisa's lover even borrows money from a loan shark just like the wife from "The Doll's House".
  • Allusions to external works are often made to hint at some of the darker themes. In part one of episode 26, Jet makes reference to the Wikipedia:Ernest Hemingway classic Wikipedia:The Snows of Kilimanjaro. Spike also recites the Japanese tale Hyakumankai-kai Ikita Neko ("The cat that lived a million times") in the final episode as an explanation of his life, although he claims to hate the story because he hates cats.
  • Appledelhi Siniz Hesap Lütfen: The name of Ed's father is seen in the upper right of the bounty screen in one episode. It means exactly "Excuse me, Check please" in Turkish (in fact, it should be Afedersiniz Hesap Lutfen if you want to be grammatically correct). There are further Turkish influences present such as an Aile ahçesi/Aile Pazarı written on the shades of a cafe/shop. IT means Family Garden / Family Market correspondently.

Music Edit

  • Opening
"Tank!" by The Seatbelts
  • Ending
"The Real Folk Blues" by Mai Yamane (eps. 1-12,14-25)
"Space Lion" by The Seatbelts (ep. 13)
"Blue" by Mai Yamane (ep. 26)


Martial arts

Eastern mysticism

American Indian shamanism

CB and trucking culture

External links Edit

Citations Edit

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