Synopsis: The time is 2071 A.D. and the setting is outer space. Spike Spiegel and his partner Jet Black are bounty hunters who earn their keep by capturing people wanted by the authorities. People who have huge cash rewards hanging on their heads. From thieves to terrorists, as long as the money's good, Spike and Jet are on it. Pretty soon, the duo unwittingly pick up additional group members -- the sassy and smart-talking lady Faye Valentine, the whiz kid / hacker Ed, and the dog Ein. Together they travel through space on the spaceship Bebop, searching for bounties and links to each of their mysterious pasts.
Review: The first thing that strikes one about Cowboy Bebop is the impressive combination of sound and visuals. The intro sequence alone is snazzy, artistic, and very much in synch with the show's overall theme. But that's just the wrappings of a very cool package.
Although each episode of Cowboy Bebop is fairly self-contained, every now and then an ep with insights into a certain character's past is thrown into the mix. It's not really a continuous saga but watching the series in its entirety can be likened to completing a puzzle, especially where the characters are concerned. Spike in particular is a very charismatic main character, making it difficult not to like him. CB also has a generous helping of action -- ranging from cool martial arts type of moves to fancy gun-slinging to explosive space chases. The overall mood leans toward the lighter side, even if there is a sprinkling of darker moments at times.
The art and animation are among the very best I've seen in an anime series. The backdrops are richly depicted and the characters are superbly drawn. Computer and cel imagery are merged perfectly to create a very authentic "future" environment. Motions and movements are astoundingly smooth as silk. Everything is just so crisp and clear (especially on DVD). Most of the songs you'll hear throughout the series are in English, as performed by Japanese artists. The songs and scores have a very nostalgic retro-jazz feel, and are quite unlike the usual anime musical fare. In fact, if you just listen to the music, the thought that it's coming from an anime soundtrack would never even cross your mind. The English dubbing is fine. If you're a big fan of the ever-popular seiyuu Megumi Hayashibara (also Rei Ayanami in "Neon Genesis Evangelion") though, you may want to grab the subbed version as she plays the sexy Faye Valentine. Other prominent seiyuus like Yumi Touma (also Urd in "Oh My Goddess") and Maaya Sakamoto (also Hitomi in "The Vision of Escaflowne") also make guest appearances in some of the eps. CB's production values are very high for a TV series (like "The Vision of Escaflowne"). Not a surprise really as some of the people who worked on Escaflowne TV are responsible for CB. This series is definitely one to consider for collection.
Miscellanies: I find Cowboy Bebop quite reminiscent of an older anime series entitled "Lupin III". The main difference is that instead of hunting for people, Lupin and his gang go after stuff like priceless artifacts and other similar types of valuables.