Cowboy Bebop chronicles the adventures of bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Ed, and Ein. With its intricate musical influences, uniquely nuanced characters, and a plot that is by turns hilarious and heartwarming, the series has earned its place in the anime canon, and is regularly referred to as one of the best anime of all time.
Even if you're a space cowboy fanatic, there are probably still some things you didn't know about Cowboy Bebop. The franchise's lore holds plenty of secrets to uncover – like the hidden origin of Ein the corgi – and there are some ridiculous behind the scenes stories that make the show's success seem even more impressive.
If you didn't know the director of Cowboy Bebop thinks of Ed as a non-binary character, or that the opening credits contain a secret, meta message, it's time to start studying.
The Series Was Cancelled In Japan For Being Too Mature
During its original network TV run in Japan, Cowboy Bebop got canceled halfway through the series. The show doesn't shy away from violence and sexuality, and censors deemed it too risque for the public at large.
The initial broadcast only included 13 of Cowboy Bebop's 26 episodes. To give the series some closure, creators added an extra episode titled "Session XX: Mish-Mash Blues," which was never officially released in the US.
This episode is a clip show composed of disconnected scenes from the unaired second half of the series, organized around various characters' philosophical pontifications.
The finale concludes with the hopeful message, "This is not the end. You'll see the real Cowboy Bebop someday." Luckily, the creators were able to make good on this promise; while the series did not return to broadcast TV, a satellite network called WOWOW picked it up almost immediately.
The Opening Credits Are Totally Meta
No matter how many times you've seen Cowboy Bebop's opening credits, there's a good chance you haven't read all of the text that scrolls by in the background. These sentence fragments are noteworthy, as they provide a window into the studio's vision for the series prior to its official release.
While this hidden declaration (which doubles as the definition for bebop jazz, a fictional musical genre) may seem a bit boastful, it's also pretty spot on:
They must create new dreams and films by breaking traditional styles. They are sick and tired of conventional fixed style jazz… the work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called COWBOY BEBOP, will play without fear of risky things.
There's A 'Cowboy Bebop' Themed Cafe In Japan
In 2018, Japanese Cowboy Bebop fans got to take their viewing experience to a whole new level. Between May 15 and June 10, the Goodsmile Animate Café converted two of its locations into Bebop themed restaurants. These establishments offered fans the chance to buy show-related merchandise, and to eat meals based on the anime's (often disgusting) food.
Choice menu items include the Spike Spiegel, an Old Fashioned cocktail that includes a gun-shaped chocolate and mixed nuts, as well as a Mushroom Samba Burger that probably isn't made with psychedelic mushrooms, and bell peppers and beef, a dish that includes no beef, just bell peppers.
These themed meals don't sound super enjoyable to eat, but they do evoke the mood of the anime.
Adult Swim Pulled One Episode Because Of The Terrorist Attack On 9/11
Cowboy Bebop first aired in America on September 2, 2001. Nine days later, a terrorist attack brought down the World Trade Center in New York City.
This incident dramatically reduced America's tolerance to media involving acts of terrorism. In response to the national unrest, Adult Swim chose to skip over the 22nd episode of Cowboy Bebop (titled "Cowboy Funk"), as it involves a terrorist who blows up buildings by hiding bombs in teddy bears.
A year later, the memory of the attack wasn't quite as raw, so the network decided to air the episode. However, it didn't run without censorship: Jet's hippie costume originally had a cannabis leaf on the front, which was digitally altered to resemble a peace sign.