Concept: In the year 2071, an unlikely group of bounty hunters travel in their spaceship, the Bebop, looking for contracts and making money, while exploring themes such as existentialism, loneliness, and the influence of the past. Based on the anime series written by Cain Kuga and Kadokawa Shoten.
Total Episodes: 26
Original Air Dates: April 3, 1998 - April 24, 1999
Original Network: TV Tokyo in Japan, Cartoon Network's Adult Swim in the USA.
Characters (note: I'm only listing the voice actors for the English version):
Spike Spiegel (Steve Blum): Tall, lean and slightly muscular, Spike was born on Mars and has a history of violent activity. While he shows a cavalier attitude most of the time, he tends to be compassionate when dealing with strangers. Martial arts expert (inspired by Bruce Lee) with a cybernetic right eye, expert with firearms. His arch-foe is Vicious, a member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate in Tharsis, and a former partner of Spike's until they fell out over a conflict with Julia, a beautiful woman (naturally). The blood feud between Spike and Vicious comes to a climax in the last episode.
Jet Black (Beau Billingslea): A former cop from Ganymede, he's very tall with a muscular build. Jet is hard-working and a jack of all trades. He was formerly an investigator for the Intra Solar System Police until he lost his arm during an investigation, since replaced with a cybernetic one. This caused him to quit and become a bounty hunter, and is the owner of the Bebop. He's seen as the "father figure" to the crew, although he wishes he was seen more as the brotherly type.
Faye Valentine (Wendee Lee): Possibly the most interesting of the crew, Faye is often seen smoking, and wears a revealing outfit. She appears to be 23, but is about 77, having spent 54 years in suspended animation. During the course of the series, she goes from encountering Spike and Jet twice before joining the crew (pretty much inviting herself to join). She's an expert gunman, and tends to be unstoppable. Very sarcastic, unnecessarily violent at times. She woke from suspended animation with no memory of her past, and spends some of the series searching for knowledge about it.
Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivurski IV (Melissa Fahn): Known simply as "Edward," she is a hacker extraordinare, probably a preteen, who pretty much refers to herself in the third person all the time. She goes barefoot all the time, and often uses her feet where others would use their hands. She rarely walks, usually running, crawling, flipping, or walking on her hands. She's pretty much the tech guru of the Bebop.
Ein: As I've written about in a previous "Dog of the Geek" post, Ein is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi. He is very intelligent, with a heightened awareness of what's going on around him. He can understand English, and even respond to questions by barking once for "yes" and twice for "no." Ein and Edward are close friends quickly, as Edward seems the only member of the crew to understand Ein's capabilities.
Steve Blum has a long history of voice work, particularly in dubs of Japanese animation. He can be heard in Mobile Suit Gundam III, Super Dimension Century Orguss, and many other shows since then. His most recent work you may have heard him in is voicing Darkscream in Transformers: Robots in Disguise (2001-2002), Roger Smith in The Big O, Wolverine and others in Wolverine and the X-Men, the Green Goblin and others in The Spectacular Spider-Man, Captain Cold and Heat Wave in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Red Skull in The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, and many, many other roles.
Beau Billingslea did all on-camera roles before his first voicework in Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro. While still mostly appearing on-camera in non-genre roles, he did appear in the 1988 version of The Blob playing Moss Woodley, voiced Richard in the Gundam 0080: A War in the Pocket miniseries, and continued alternating between voicework and on-camera work. Since Bebop, you may have heard his voice on Cyborg 009 voicing Cyborg 005, voicing two characters in .hack//Legend of the Twilight, several characters on Digimon: Digital Monsters, and many other roles. His latest genre appearance was as Captain Abbot in Star Trek Into Darkness.
Wendee Lee has made a career out of voicework, starting with Space Adventure Cobra and Barefoot Gen, voicing Yuri in most of the Dirty Pair translations, and all sorts of other anime programs. She voiced Scorpina and other characters for the redub of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, as well as characters in subsequent Power Rangers series, and after Bebop, continued to do all sorts of voice work, such as Kei Pirate and Twilight Suzuka in Outlaw Star, several characters in the .hack// shows as well as The Big O, and continues doing voicework, mostly for anime dubs, to this day.
Melissa Fahn also has a long history of voicing anime translations, beginning with 1977's Lupin the 3rd as a party guest, later voicing Dorothy in Gundam 000: A War in the Pocket, a few voices in two episodes of The Ren & Stimpy Show, and continued to voice anime dubs at least until 2012.
Geek Guests: Not applicable.
DVD Release: Several releases on DVD and Blu-Ray.
Website: You can learn all about the world of Cowboy Bebop at http://cowboybebop.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page and watch full episodes at http://www.adultswim.com/videos/cowboy-bebop. I highly recommend watching them all!
Notes: I've probably watched the entire series twice on Adult Swim and several episodes three times. I fell in love with it immediately, and rate it as one of my favorite anime shows (just below Speed Racer and Star Blazers, and just above Robotech). It's really difficult to describe it adequately! There are a lot of musical references in the show, and it has probably one of the best TV theme songs you'll ever hear.