In the distant future, humanity has, for the most, part abandoned Earth and colonized several different planets in the solar system. In order to keep peace in the galaxy, the Inter Solar System police was established, but they often rely on aid for bounty hunters, referred to as “cowboys,” to bring criminals on the run to justice. This is the story of Spike Spiegel and Jet Black, a pair of cowboys that end up with a rag-tag crew of other misfits as they travel the galaxy trying to keep food on the table and their own dark pasts at bay.
Many see Cowboy Bebop as a true classic. For many, it was the anime that they spent their younger years staying up late to watch. If you are looking for something new to capture that same jazzy, bebop-ing feel, give these anime recommendations a try.
For Fans of Space Westerns
After humanity fled a dying Earth, their seed ship crash on a harsh planet, but humanity managed to endure. On this still-developing planet, there is a horrid criminal known as Vash the Stampede with a huge bounty on his head. It is said he destroys entire cities for fun. As such, two insurance agents dedicate their time to following him to try to stop his devastation, but what they find is not what they expect. Vash is actually a buffoonish goofball, but his reputation isn’t all complete rubbish.
Although Trigun only has a few space scenes, Trigun is as much a space western as they come right alongside Cowboy Bebop. Both shows have a great sense of humor while having their moments of heart-breaking drama that make these two classics sit side by side.
The universe is a vast and strange place, full of even stranger beings. For a man named Dandy, his job is to travel around and register new species for a reward. What should be an easy job is made less so by a series of odd coincidences that happen along the way.
As with any Shinichiro Watanabe series, you can expect the series to have certain similarities. Like Cowboy Bebop, Space Dandy follows a bounty hunter and his dysfunctional crew as they travel the stars. While many thought Space Dandy was going to be Cowboy Bebop come again, it did turn out a fair bit sillier.
The young Gene Starwind has always had lofty dreams of piloting his own ship out into the stars, but his dreams aren’t coming true. Instead of being a space pilot, he takes on odd jobs with his partner James Hawking. However, one day, when they accept a new job, it changes everything. They are tasked with protecting a mysterious girl and it takes them out into the universe aboard the advanced spaceship, the Outlaw Star.
While more treasure hunters than bounty hunters, Outlaw Star is the story about a rag-tag group of misfits that set out into space looking for adventure and money. While it has its serious moments, Outlaw Star doesn’t get as serious and dramatic as Cowboy Bebop does.
For Fans of Gateway Anime for Beginners
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
After their mother’s death, brothers Edward and Alphonse try to bring her back through alchemy, even though human transmutation is strictly forbidden. After things go horribly wrong, Edward is left without an arm and a leg while Alphonse lost his body all together, only saved by his brother when he attached his soul to a suit of armor. Now they head out to search for the fabled philosopher’s stone in order to return Al to his body.
If you are new to anime, you get two recommendations – Cowboy Bebop and Fullmetal Alchemist. Both series tell compelling stories that have a unique mix of action, comedy, and drama throughout. While Cowboy Bebop is more about individual stories, FMA is about action scenes and unraveling the overall mystery.
Brandon Heat and Harry MacDowel grew up on the streets together and both turned to crime in order to get by. However, when their activities are noticed by the eyes of the expansive Millennion mafia syndicate, the pair find themselves brought under their wings and rising through the ranks. Things go well until one fateful day that changes it all. Years later, Brandon Heat is brought back from the dead to fight Millennion and its new leader, Harry MacDowel.
Gungrave is a few spaceships away from being Cowboy Bebop. Both anime series are overall about a revenge story between two people that used to be close. While Gungrave has some advanced technology, it is not quite to Cowboy Bebop’s level of space travel. If anything, Gungrave feels similar to what a prequel of Cowboy Bebop might be, but without the jazzy style.
After the Holy Empire of Britannia established itself as the dominant military power, exiled prince Lelouch is sent to the furthest reaches in Japan, now renamed Area 11. Caught in the crossfire between rebels and Britannian forces, Lelouch takes cover and meets a mysterious girl who grants him the Power of Kings. With it, he can make anyone obey his commands on sight. In the hands of this young genius, it is just what he needs for his revenge.
Cowboy Bebop has spaceships, Code Geass has mechs. They both have that advanced technology and feature some incredibly fluid fights. Both are also highly recommended to those new to anime in order to hook them into our weeaboo black hole.
For Fans of Groovy Anime-Music Genre Amalgamations
Fuu is a young girl working as a waitress at a small teahouse. Things are peaceful until one day she spills tea on a customer and finds the samurai harassing her. Calling for help, a thuggish young rogue by the name of Mugen steps in only to pick a fight with another tightly wound samurai named Jin. In their fight, they end up destroying the shop and getting arrested. After saving the two fighters from their execution, Fuu hires them as bodyguards to help her find a samurai that smells of sunflowers.
As they are both Shinichiro Watanabe series, Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo are practically siblings. Both series feature fluid action scenes and random humorous side stories, but their biggest similarity is how much of a role music plays. In Cowboy Bebop, you hear a lot of Blue and Jazz while Samurai Champloo is all about hip-hop.
Michiko and Hatchin
For the fourth time, hardened criminal Michiko breaks out of South American prison in order to search for a man from her past. This search leads her to the young Hana, a girl trapped under the thumb of her abusive foster family. Breaking her out as a key in her search, the unlikely pair set off on their search, only to be embroiled in everything from betrayal to gang warfare.
Yet another Shinichiro Watanabe series, Michiko and Hatchin mixes things up by putting the focus on the ladies. Essentially Michiko and Hatchin combines the laid back attitude of Spike in its main character with the hip-hop atmosphere of Samurai Champloo. If you want great animation and crazy adventures, this is a great pick.
Coyote Ragtime Show
Only days from his release, the space outlaw Mister is broken out of prison by his old partners Bishop and Katana. Upon his escape, he seeks out a girl named Franka that was left in his care by her dead father and commences to go on a journey to find her father’s treasure and avoid the authorities on his heels.
This is another series that puts a big focus on music. It is Jazz and Blues in Cowboy Bebop and it is Ragtime in Coyote Ragtime Show. Both series also feature criminals set in a space western world where they head on a series of odd adventures that lead to an overall goal.
Got any other shows that capture that same Cowboy Bebop feel? Let us know about them in the comments section below.