Cowboy Bebop is a 1998 Japanese anime series developed by Sunrise featuring a production team led by Shinichiro Watanabe and composer Yoko Kanno. Set in the year 2071, it follows the adventures, misadventures and tragedies of a bounty hunter crew travelling on their starship called Bebop. The crew is made up of five main characters: Spike Spiegel, an exiled hitman of the ruthless Red Dragon Syndicate; Jet Black, a former ISSP officer who retired following a mob hit that cost him his arm; Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist who awakened in the future after a lengthy period of cryogenic hibernation; “Radical” Edward, a barefooted preteen girl who is a prolific computer hacker; and Ein, a hyper-intelligent, genetically-engineered Welsh Corgi dog. Cowboy Bebop explores philosophical concepts including existentialism, existential ennui, loneliness, and the past’s influence.
Cowboy Bebop became a critical and commercial success both in Japanese and international markets, most notably in the United States. The series garnered several major anime and science fiction awards from Japanese publications, and received universal praise for its style, characters, story, voice acting, animation and soundtrack. In the years since its release, critics and reviewers, from the United States in particular, have hailed Cowboy Bebop as a masterpiece and frequently cite it as one of the greatest anime series of all time. Credited with helping introduce anime to a new wave of Western viewers in the early 2000s, Cowboy Bebop has also been labelled a gateway series for the medium as a whole.