Created in 1998 by Hajime Yatate, Cowboy Bebop is today considered to be one of the greatest anime series ever produced. With Netflix currently working on a live-action series starring John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, and Alex Hassell, we have decided to tell you whether the anime is worth watching.
Cowboy Bebop is not only worth watching, it is an absolute must-see for all anime fans. It is one of the most acclaimed and influential anime series ever and has had a profound influence on the medium, as well as the popularity of anime around the world.
In this article, we are going to discuss the historical importance of the Cowboy Bebop anime, thereby telling you exactly why you need to watch the show and why it is as good as you’ve heard it is. You’re also going to find out whether it is better to watch the subbed or dubbed version of the show.
Is Cowboy Bebop Worth Watching?
Now, to give you a full insight into this question, we have decided to talk about the cultural impact and the critical acclaim that Cowboy Bebop has received over the years.
The anime premiered in Japan on TV Tokyo from April 3 to June 26, 1998, but due to the series’ controversial content, only 12 of the 26 episodes produced were aired, plus a special. All the episodes were subsequently broadcast on the WOWOW satellite channel from October 24, 1998 to April 24, 1999.
Now, Cowboy Bebop was a bit controversial back in the 1990s, but it had an inherent quality to it. Shin’ichirō Watanabe, the show’s director, explained it like this, in a 2013 interview for ANN:
ANN: Ambitious! And very exciting. My last question is in regard to Cowboy Bebop. When I was walking around the convention today, I saw someone cosplaying as Radical Edward, but more striking was the tattoo they had on the back of their exposed shoulder that said “See You Space Cowboy.” I still see things like that quite often, even though that show was created some time ago. Is there anything that surprises you about Cowboy Bebop’s impact in America, and what is the most striking thing you have seen in the fandom for it here?
Watanabe: Back when Cowboy Bebop was in production, we never knew that Japanese anime would have any impact overseas, so we totally didn’t see Westerners being exposed to the show. We just made what we enjoyed making, and the fact that it got accepted in the west at all was the most surprising thing. I grew up with US movies so it made me very happy that Americans liked my things, because I was raised on their things, in a way. The moment that made the biggest impact on me here did involve Edward, because Edward was a character I made thinking that no person existed like her in real life. But when I went to Texas, there was someone cosplaying as Ed, and it was like they’d stepped out of the anime. It was completely her if she had been living. How’s that for a big impact?
As you can see, the production crew never expected Cowboy Bebop to become such a global thing, but it eventually did. Cowboy Bebop single-handedly helped the popularization of anime, along with Dragon Ball, which also aired globally at the time. The trend was continued in the 2000s with the “Big Three” – Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece – but it was Cowboy Bebop, along with Dragon Ball, that laid the foundations for such a trend.
Cowboy Bebop has received a very positive reception from audiences and critics worldwide. According to data released by Bandai Visual, as of February 2006, the series was, with 950,000 copies sold, the company’s fifth-largest franchise in the Japanese home video market.
Animage magazine also included it on the list of the one hundred best anime of all time. In the West, the success of the series was practically equal, especially in North America, where it has become one of the most popular series of all time and has helped to raise awareness and spread the interest in Japanese animation.
Television ratings, thanks to the nightly programming, proved to be very high and Bandai Entertainment announced that in 2005 sales of the VHS and DVD of the series in Canada and the United States exceeded one million units.
In a 2004 article, Newtype USA asked its readers to compile a ranking of the 25 best anime of all time; Cowboy Bebop ranked second after Neon Genesis Evangelion, confirming itself as one of the most relevant and influential anime series ever created.
In Anime Insider‘s 2007 “50 Best Souls of All Time,” the series took first place; while in the 2012 ranking of the Australian Madman Entertainment, it ranked seventh.
You’ve read all the praises we have for this show, both ours and of other experts in the field. If this isn’t enough to make you run and watch Cowboy Bebop, we don’t know what else would help you!
Is Cowboy Bebop Better in Subbed or Dubbed Format?
Well, this is a question that has little to do with the show itself and more with the issue of how well English-language dubs are done. Now, Cowboy Bebop is a seinen work so the dub is not as bad as you might expect but personally, we still prefer the original version with subtitles, which is why we would advise you to watch that version, instead of the dubbed one.
Should You Watch the Cowboy Bebop Anime Before the Live-Action Series?
Although it won’t be necessary plot-wise, we do advise that you watch the anime series before the live-action one, simply to get a full grasp of the world of Cowboy Bebop and to have a better appreciation of the whole franchise.