My nephew turned me onto this Japanese Anime TV series. A total of twenty-six episodes and a film, there was some sort of controversy on content. The original showing was only twelve episodes and a special. later in 1998, another Japanese network ran the whole series.

It’s set in 2071 and cowboys are bounty hunters. The two we meet early on are Spike Spiegel and Jet Black. Black is the owner of the spaceship, the BeBop, that they travel around on. A few episodes in a young woman name Faye Valentine attaches herself to them as another hunter. They pick up a genetically altered dog in one story, Ein, who has human level intelligence(the problem is he rarely shows that, reacting more like an ordinary dog most of the time). The final addition to ship’s crew is an orphaned young woman named Edward, a computer whiz, a hacker. Both Spike and Faye have their own small ships, usually loaded for bear. But not always. Another character made sporadic appearances, Vicious, a former friend of Spike’s in organized crime and now sworn enemy.

In the series, our entire solar system has been made accessible by hyperspace gates. The Moon has been partially destroyed in 2022(only ten more years, look out) by an exploding early version hypergate. Mars is the central seat of human civilization by this time, not to mention the criminal syndicates. The Cowboys get their assignments, the bounties, from an internet program hosted by a couple of overly peppy characters.

Throughout the run of the show, we catch up on the character’s back story. Spike had been an enforcer for one crime syndicate before going straight. Jet had been a cop out of Ganymede. Faye doesn’t get cleared up until late in the sow. We only know she has hige debt problems, her reason for becoming a cowboy.

The last episode gives us doubt whether everyone survives.

We encounter a variety od criminal and genetically altered monsters throughout. And some in-jokes along the way. I caught a few and probably missed others. One has a black man, huge Afro, dressed in a white suit who announces he’s the last of the Shafts. He’s also dragging a coffin behind him as he enters the city walking(Django anyone). In that same episode, Shaft is pursued bt a black woman with her own Afro and sharp clothes(Pam Grier perhaps).

The show was a lot of fun and it’s creator has hinted over the years of perhaps doing another series. Nothing ever seems to come of it though. And a live action version has been in the pipeline for years with only Keanu Reeves attached in the role of Spike. It seems to be a funding issue holding it up. Fans seem to take delight in guessing who would be good in the other roles. Bruce Willis seems to pop up frequently for the Jet Black role.

Despite all the future trappings, it has an old time feel. Handguns, cigarettes dangling from lips, smoke blowing, the fighting, the slum-like areas of cities on other worlds in our solar system.

The trailer for the movie:

and the show’s opening/theme song:

As always on Tuesday, visit Todd Mason over at Sweet Freedom for links to all the fine posts on overlooked movies and related things.