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.
One Episode Reenacts Famous Chess Matches
Session 14, titled “Bohemian Rhapsody,” features Chessmaster Hex, a genius chess player who set a revenge scheme in motion just before going senile. As his plot unfolds, Hex cheerfully plays chess against online opponents, including Ed, the Bebop crew's smartest and strangest member.
The moves utilized in these matches are not arbitrary. They're based off two famous, real-life chess matches, Paul Morphy vs. Adolf Anderssen (1858), and Paul Morphy vs. John William Schulten (1857). Morphy's moves are mirrored by Hex, who wins both games.
Ein Was Created By Special Request
Ein, a scientifically modified Pembroke Welsh Corgi who accompanies the Bebop crew, is one of the most memorable characters from Cowboy Bebop. While it's easy to see why the hero is popular (what other show has a dog who's smart enough win a game of shogi?), there's actually a concrete reason why his breed is so specific.
Prior to the show's release, one of the scenario writers was obsessed with corgis, and insisted her favorite dog breed needed to be included in some way.