Created by Hajime Yatate, Cowboy Bebop is a space western with neo-noir elements that rocked the world when it aired back in 1998, even if we saw only 26 episodes of the show. The plot was later extended with the 2001 anime movie, but that’s really not that much for an anime series of Cowboy Bebop’s caliber. In this article, we are going to introduce you to the world of Cowboy Bebop by telling you when and where the series takes place.
Cowboy Bebop takes place in 2071, fifty years after an accident with a hyperspace gateway that made the Earth almost uninhabitable. The plot of the series is set within our Solar System, on different rocky planets that the humans have colonized, but also in space itself, as the characters travel from one location to the other.
The rest of this article is going to introduce you to the lore of the Cowboy Bebop anime. You’re going to find out about the circumstances that created the world of the anime series, both in temporal and spatial terms. You’re going to find out when exactly the show takes place in relation to our time and where, if not Earth, it takes place. We’re also going to tell you something about the 2001 movie.
When Does Cowboy Bebop Take Place?
In order to fully understand the present time of Cowboy Bebop, we have to go back about 50 years before the main plot. In 2021, the accidental explosion of an experimental gate, a device that allows hyperspace travel, seriously damages the Moon, causing the drift of a swarm of asteroids and meteorites that bomb the surface of the planet Earth, exterminating a large part of the population.
The survivors, therefore, abandon the now inhospitable planet to colonize new habitable systems: Mars, Venus, the asteroid belt, and the satellites of Jupiter.
In 2071 the entire solar system was made accessible to hyperspace travel thanks to gates, Mars became the pivotal planet of new human development, and the new cartels of interplanetary organized crime, first of all, the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, exert their influence within the government and on the Inter Solar System Police (ISSP), the solar system police, limiting their effectiveness in fighting crime.
To cope with the threat of escapees, terrorists, drug traffickers and other dangerous criminals, a “bounty” system similar to that used in the Old West was therefore established; the new solar system bounty hunters are therefore often referred to as “cowboys”.
Where Does Cowboy Bebop Take Place?
As for the locations, Cowboy Bebop takes place in the Solar System; basically, it takes place in space. There are numerous occasions around the Solar System featured in the anime, and this is a list of the most important ones:
The fifth and largest planet in the solar system. On its moons Ganymede, Io and Callisto there were several terraformed colonies. Other moons of Jupiter have been mapped, such as Metis, Adrastea, Amalthea, and Thebe. Due to the presence of several colonies, there were several astral gates in orbit.
Faye Valentine fled the Bebop after her encounter with Gordon, but ran out of fuel near Jupiter. Pao Pu-Zi escaped the Blue Snake crime syndicate in a ship headed for Jupiter when he disappeared.
The third planet in the system. In 2021, the average temperature has risen since the previous century, resulting in drier and more barren landscapes. Many of the earlier structures are now only in ruins. Because of the ever-changing topography, land masses are divided into “sectors” rather than countries or states.
A Forecast predicts the probability of meteors in a given sector. Satellites and electricity are still available in some regions, so television and internet can be used. The Earth Police Department was the police force on Earth. Earth is generally ignored by everyone.
The fourth planet in the system. Martian colonies were usually established in large craters on the surface, covered by an artificial atmosphere, which was constantly replenished through large devices on the rim. In this way, a colony could be established with atmospheric and climatic characteristics similar to those on Earth.
Large cables connected the various crater cities and covered highways allowed travel between them. Tharsis City and Alba City were two cities on Mars. There were at least two universities on Mars: Mars University and SIT. Mars had a police force, the Mars Police Department, and a military organization, the Mars Army.
Does the Cowboy Bebop Movie Take Place After the Anime Series?
The Cowboy Bebop movie was released in 2001, three years after the original anime series. Now, this might indicate that the movie is set after the anime series, but it’s actually not. As we know, it all started, in 2071, in the crater of Alba City on Mars with the explosion of a tanker truck by terrorists. The government suspects a bioterrorist attack, and puts many people under medical surveillance. But no trace of the virus is found, although people are sick.
A huge reward is promised for the capture of the evildoers. The Bebop‘s bounty hunter team seizes the opportunity to replenish their finances. They identify the author of the attack: Vincent Volaju, a former soldier who belonged to a special section. The members of the section had been the subject of a scientific experiment involving nanorobots. Vincent was the only survivor, thanks to anti-nanorobots in his blood.
His memory had been erased as a result of this experience, and he was considered dead. He launches a major attack on Halloween day, alongside a parade, by blowing up giant pumpkins filled with nanorobots. Having guessed its intentions, the Bebop team drops anti-nanorobots from planes. Vincent is killed.
Now, this is a brief look into the movie. As you can see, it is set within the anime series’ timeline, and, to be more precise, the movie is set between episodes 22 and 23 of the anime series.