Cowboy Bebop (1998 series)
Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, written by Keiko Nobumoto with studio Sunrise.
Cowboy Bebop is a space-western set in 2071 and follows the bounty hunters Spike, Jet and their crew travelling on the ship, Bebop. The series draws heavily from western film and music and contains references to John Woo, Midnight Run, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien. Pinning Cowboy Bebop as just a ‘space western’ is a disservice, the overarching plot can be described as a detective caper, but throughout the series, multiple genres intertwine from comedy to action to film noir.
Bebop has one of the most iconic opening sequences in history, backed by the track Tank! The soundtrack plays a crucial role in the series and is highly regarded by critics and fans. It was composed by Yoko Kanno and performed by blues and jazz band Seatbelts. The soundtrack was one of the first aspects of the series to begin production, even before elements of the story had been finalised — Watanabe was even inspired to create entirely new scenes after listening to it.
There aren’t many series I recommend watching in English, but this is one, the dubbing is flawless. The series has 26 episodes and four specials, but you can ignore three of them. The special Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (otherwise knows as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie), is a feature-length episode that takes place between episode 22 and 23.