By Juan Calvillo
“Cowboy Bebop” is an anime that mixes spaghetti westerns, sci-fi, noir and martial arts into a 26 episode masterpiece, featuring a stellar soundtrack and perfect voice-over work.
Released more than two decades ago, creator Hajime Yatate cobbled together a lush story filled to the brim with characters that break stereotypes.
His stories thread the eye of a needle perfectly and his take on a future filled with equal parts action and diverse locales is fun to see.
“Cowboy Bebop” follows the exploits of the crew of the spaceship, The Bebop.
The founding members of this bounty hunting team are actors Spike Spiegel and Jet Black.
Along the show’s run of episodes, they encounter the remaining two members of the crew. Spiegel and Black seem to have some training in hand-to-hand combat and use it to capture the bounties they go after throughout the show.
This review will focus on the voice over actors for the dubbed version of the anime.
The English voice talent was perfectly cast. Steve Blum voices the main character Spiegel.
Blum captures the nonchalant, playful, but confident, Spiegel with his work.
Spiegel is a bounty hunter that has a bit of a haunted past involving a woman and ex-friend.
Beau Billingslea voices Black, the caretaker and the teams’ all around authority figure.
Bullingslea’s deep voice radiates concern for his team while still providing the much needed voice of reason for the group.
Black is focused on keeping his team together, but also has a shrouded past.
Rounding out the stellar cast are Wendee Lee as Faye Valentine and Melissa Fahn as Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivruski IV, or Ed for short. Lee is right on the money portraying Valentine’s brashness and confidence.
Her range is what makes the acting great as she also manages to blend in the vulnerability and loneliness that Valentine experiences throughout the show.
Fahn takes Ed’s child-like character and makes the character funny while also introspective when she needs it to be.
Yatate’s world is something to behold.
While the crew of the Bebop travel from destination to destination, the space, land and interiors all looked lived in.
It may seem odd to read that an anime show is described as lived in, but “Cowboy Bebop” is a lived in universe.
The characters seem to know their place aboard the Bebop, and whether stepping off to have a space battle or chasing down a bounty in a crowded street, the art in this show is beautiful.
The areas the team interact with range from a futuristic casino, a version of Tijuana, to the vast sands of deserts.
Each new piece of stage looks great from the amount of detail and colors used in their creation.
Luckily the greatness of this late ‘90s show doesn’t end with good voice acting and great visuals.
The soundtrack, from sweeping jazz-type numbers to exciting orchestral battle music, is great. The audio effects are also very well done, from gunfire and explosions to the moments of silence expertly put in between dialogue.
The only drawback is that viewers will be humming “Cowboy Bebop’s” main theme every time they think of the anime. The show’s theme, named “TANK!,” was composed by Yoko Kanno.
It is played by the band The Seatbelts.
“Cowboy Bebop” is a show that must be seen to truly be appreciated. It has exciting martial art battles, frantic gun fights and such an interesting set of characters.
“Cowboy Bebop” is streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon now and is rated TV-14. The Netflix-only live-action version of “Cowboy Bebop” releases Nov. 19.