Cowboy Bebop

TV review by
Scout Davidson, Common Sense Media
Cowboy Bebop TV Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Space adventures meant for mature anime fans.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 17 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 39 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

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.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

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

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byB P April 9, 2008
Adult Written byCollegeGradGuy May 28, 2012

Most of what makes it great also makes it not for kids...

I say not for kids, when really your teen can probably handle it fine, but it's your call because the series is pretty incredibly violent, and characters a... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byHam231 November 9, 2019

Fantastic show best for older teens.

This is a fantastic show with an excellent (but quite darkly delivered) message about past trauma and how your past can keep people are searching for catharsis... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 29, 2019

Great anime, only if your kids can handle it.

This show is great, don’t get me wrong. But it is not for kids under the age of 12. The show is very violent but it isn’t all that graphic. There are shootouts... Continue reading

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).

Talk to your kids 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

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