There are many reasons why Cowboy Bebop is respected as one of the most popular anime shows of all time. For many people (especially in the U.S.), Cowboy Bebop was the first anime they had ever seen, setting the tone for how amazing anime can be in terms of action, adventure, and even humor. It has a short yet defined story set in a wondrous setting that leaves its world open to many possibilities. The soundtrack to the show alone sets Cowboy Bebop apart from many other anime in general, even to this day. All those pieces are connected by, above all else, the characters.
Because of how short the series is, there’s a combination of the main cast of characters that we get to know, the characters that show up multiple times but not nearly as much as the main cast, and the characters that only show up for an episode or 2. Despite the low number of characters, however, the characters that aren’t around as much still make their mark in terms of making the series enjoyable, and the main cast steal the show with their very different personalities clashing in a variety of ways as they go on their adventures. Here are the Top 10 Cowboy Bebop characters. OK. 3, 2, 1, let’s jam!
10. Victoria "V.T." Terpsichore
A tough space trucker who loves listening to heavy metal music and is never seen without her cat Zeroes, VT serves as yet another badass woman that can hold her own in a fight. Although VT does a 180 in terms of how she treats Spike once she finds out he’s a bounty hunter, she eventually changes her mind as she gets to know him as they work together to track down Spike’s target. VT is the widow of Ural Tipsichore, a bounty hunter many other bounty hunters consider to be legendary. However, VT hides this knowledge in order to win bets people place when trying to guess her real name. Even though she only appears briefly, VT is one of the many brief characters Spike encounters that leave their mark on him.
9. Mao Yenrai
A captain to the elders that run the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, Mao Yenrai was a mentor to not only Spike, but Vicious as well. Not much is known about Mao before the series, but he is likely the one responsible for introducing Spike and Vicious into the Syndicate and setting their lives in motion. Mao ends up making a crucial decision to make peace with the White Tiger crime syndicate without the permission of his own, resulting in his death at the hands of Vicious and forcing Spike to pursue Vicious in the final episode. Although his role was brief, Mao’s connection to Spike’s past can’t be understated by any means.
8. Vincent Volaju
The main antagonist of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, Vincent was the only survivor of multiple experiments performed by the military to build an immunity toward nanomachines. In order to exact revenge, Vincent is determined to wipe out the human population on Mars using the very pathogen he was forced to endure, and which ultimately drove him insane. Vincent is recognized not only for being one of the strongest villains in the series, but also as being one of the few characters that can match Spike in close combat. Despite having only a brief role, Vincent certainly set himself apart from most of the other characters that made only a single appearance.
The main antagonist of the series, Vicious is exactly what his name implies. Despite the popularity of guns in the series, Vicious’ weapon of choice is the katana, which he wields effectively even against those who draw their guns on him Vicious and Spike were partners in the Red Dargin syndicate until Julia and Spike’s decision to leave the syndicate drove them apart. Vicious appears multiple times throughout the series as he believes he is the only one who can kill Spike, and this leads to their final duel in the finale. Vicious’ popularity lies in being the only antagonist to appear multiple times as well as his skill as a fighter.
As beautiful as she is mysterious, Julia seems to have connections to both Spike’s and Vicious’ pasts. Once the girlfriend of Vicious, Julia begins an affair with Spike that eventually leads to Spike offering to leave the syndicate in order to be with her. However, Vicious discovers their affair and threatens Julia that he will kill both her and Spike if she meets up with him, forcing Julia to choose to go into hiding in order to save both their lives. Julia appears mainly in flashbacks throughout the series, and only appears in the present day in the last 2 episodes due to a chance meeting with Faye, and in turn Spike. Unfortunately, due to Vicious’ attempt to take over the Syndicate, a chain of events is set off that eventually lead to Julia’s death. Definitely a unique character that most fans would have liked to have seen more of.
A dog that Spike brings aboard the Bebop after a failed bounty attempt, Ein is no ordinary dog. A “data dog”, Ein shows signs of intelligence far beyond any normal dog, such as answering the telephone or playing shogi. Although Ein takes a liking to Jet early on, it is Ed who really understands just how smart Ein is, leading to their special connection. It is because of this connection that Ein chooses to go with Ed when she leaves the crew. Ein’s intelligence in combination with his doggy-like humor leads to his popularity.
4. Jet Black
A former cop and the owner of the Bebop, Jet, or “Black Dog”, serves as the straight man of the crew as well as the foil to Spike. A jack of all trades, Jet is skilled with hand guns and in hand to hand combat, and is an excellent mechanic and pilot. Despite Jet’s stoic nature being the norm and being seen as the “dad” of the crew, he sees himself more as a renaissance man of sorts, collecting art and listening to jazz music (hence the name of the ship). Jet takes a lot of pride in the ship, having built a lot of the engines himself in order to make it more effective in his adventures. Although Jet may be overlooked sometimes in comparison to the rest of the crew, he’s still a very popular character in the series as a whole.
An incredibly prodigious hacker from Earth, “Radical Edward” is the crew’s (and show’s) comic relief. Despite being only 13, Ed’s hacking skills prove to be quite invaluable to the crew on their adventures. Ed’s mannerisms are certainly strange to say the least: walking barefoot everywhere as well as on her hands, easily distracted, having an extremely childish demeanor, and trailing off mid-sentence are just scratching the surface of her oddities. It is due to this behavior, however, that Ed is so popular, and her humor makes her one of the most popular characters on the show.
2. Faye Valentine
The female lead in the series, Faye Valentine proves to be a worthy fighter amongst the Bebop crew with her guns as well as being able to look after herself. Faye’s backstory is actually rather tragic, having being put into cryogenic freeze after a space shuttle accident set 50 years before the show begins. Due to her inability to trust other people, it is only after her 2nd encounter with Spike and Jet that she decides to join them on their adventures, and only because she believes she can profit from them. Faye certainly knows how to get whatever she wants, whether it’s through her looks, lying, cheating, etc. However, despite her many bad habits and unpredictable behavior, it is because of these traits as well as her skills that make people Faye one of the most popular characters in the show.
1. Spike Spiegel
A natural badass to say the least, Spike Spiegel is without a doubt the most popular character in Cowboy Bebop. Spike was a member of the Red Dragon crime syndicate until he decided to leave and elope with his newfound love Julia. After faking his death so he could escape, however, Spike waits for Julia only for her to never show up for reasons Spike wouldn’t learn until later. After meeting Jet Black, who had just quit his job as a cop, Spike and Jet team up and decide to become bounty hunters, resulting in the meeting of all kinds of characters as well as different adventures. Spike is popular not only for his skill as a fighter, but his overall “cool” attitude. This attitude comes into play in his final moments, setting up for one of anime’s most defining moments. Definitely a badass to the end.
Cowboy Bebop may only be 26 episodes and a movie, but it was long enough to establish some pretty awesome characters. Here are the top 10 characters in Cowboy Bebop. Do you think there should have been more secondary characters? Let us know in the comments!