Cowboy Bebop

Space adventures meant for mature anime fans.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The main character is a hero, but he's not without his moral quandaries; in one episode, the villains commit murder/suicide instead of getting caught.


Lots of strong animated violence; not for the faint hearted. Hitmen use machine guns to blow victims away; many other uses of guns; bloody, graphic deaths.


Faye dresses sexily and uses it to her advantage; characters ogle a scantily clad woman who does nothing to dissuade them.


Language includes "son of a bitch," "damn," "goddamn," etc.

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke and drink; some episodes deal with drug trade/traffic.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that although this anime series is among the best in the genre -- with well-developed characters and an accessible plot -- it's definitely mature and not meant for younger viewers. It deals with adult themes, there's lots of violence (with plenty of blood and gun use), and characters swear ("son of a bitch," etc.), drink, and smoke.

What's the story?

One of the easier anime series to follow for neophyte viewers, COWBOY BEBOP -- which was the first anime series to air during Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block in 2001 -- is a good introduction to the genre. Set in 2071, the show centers on a group of bounty hunters (known as "cowboys") and their travels through space in a former fishing trawler called Bebop. This set-up allows for many different plot lines over the course of the series, with stand-alone bounty stories interwoven with flashbacks that develop each cowboy's personal history.


Is it any good?


As with most anime series, there's extensive back story, but encyclopedic knowledge of this fictional world isn't required for viewing enjoyment. That said, due to its mature nature, it's not a good fit for younger viewers. But older teens and adults are likely to appreciate its creative sensibility.

Heavily influenced by American jazz and rockabilly from the 1940s and '50s, with an opening credits sequence that reminiscent of '60s spy shows and cartoons like Jonny Quest -- plus individual episodes named for popular songs like "My Funny Valentine" and "Bohemian Rhapsody -- Cowboy Bebop's atmospheric animation is a notch above the static images of many anime. Ship design, space station layout, and many other sci-fi elements are well thought out (one main character's transport ship looks like a cross between a '59 Bel Air and an X-Wing).

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the series' mature content -- violence, alcohol, etc. Do these elements enhance or distract from the main plot and messages? Also, what characterizes an "anime" series? If you're familiar with anime, what themes do you see repeated in different series? In general, how is animation different in kids' shows and more adult-oriented shows like this one? Why use animation to tell grown-up stories in the first place? How does animation affect the story being told?

TV details

Cast:Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee
Network:Cartoon Network
Genre:Science Fiction
TV rating:TV-MA
Available on:DVD

This review of Cowboy Bebop was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Written byAnonymous August 24, 2011
age 14+

One of the greatest.

Think of this anime as a classic movie, don't watch it until you can appreciate it. I think it's fine for teens around my age.
Teen, 16 years old Written byKavki St. Dane November 12, 2009
age 14+

Brilliant - probably okay for level-headed young teens

It's brilliant in every sense, but it's not age-appropriate for little ones, and to be honest, I would think it would be rare to find one that would like it anyway - while there is a lot of good humor in it, it's also got a gritty style to it, and even when I find kids who play M rated games and whatnot, they usually go for the ones with shiny armor, high-tech computers, etc. The rating panel is on par for the most part, but there's a couple of things that got overlooked: for example, I'm fairly sure Faye drops the f-bomb once later in the series; earlier on there's one character who is shown to be a hermaphrodite (not actually sure if it's the correct terminology for the situation...) due to a mutation several years previous. All in all, I'd say it's probably okay for younger teens if they've got a good head on their shoulders - wouldn't recommend it for 12 or younger, though.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written byGod Of Television February 9, 2014
age 18+


Ok, so its a show about bounty hunters, and predictably they go after people with bounties in every episode. A monkey could've written something just as predictable. Why can't they be bounty hunters that solve world hunger or bring world peace? That would be a good, original show. But instead, they made a show about bounty hunters predictably chasing bounties.
Adult Written byutonium4 April 9, 2008
age 0+

Successful Fusion of Anime, Westerns and Sci-Fi

Cowboy Bebop is a great introduction into anime for those new to it. Bebop is a benign show--adult themes are dealt with delicately and female characters are protrayed as strong and multidimensional. The soundtrack is phenomenal and it is is almost worth watching for that alone. My kids have watched and seemed to come away better for it.


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