Anime to enjoy after completing Space Western
Few anime have left such a big cultural impact as Cowboy Bebop. Widely regarded as one of the greatest anime ever written, director by Shinichiro Watanabe a mix of western, sci-fi and noir influences has created a story that few who watch it forget. Part of the anime’s success comes from its eclectic collection of stories and tones. It skillfully balances action, comedy, tragedy, and drama into one diverse but unified tale of bounty hunters drifting through space and fleeing the ghosts of their past.
While Cowboy Bebop is one of the best, the anime is a broad medium with a lot of other stories and voices to explore. The anime listed here is seven shows that relate to Cowboy Bebop by theme, tone or character. None of them are quite the same as Bebop, but all of them make up a rich history to learn more about the world of anime.
Yes Cowboy Bebop is eclectic, so FLCL crazy. The first season, which aired in 2000, 18 years before its sequel series FLCL: Progressive and FLCL: Alternative, introduced us to a dynamic cast of characters, most notably the strange alien Haruko Haruhara, who became the only character to appear in all three seasons. The plot of FLCL is utterly psychedelic, with mechas spouting from the foreheads of college kids and Vespa pilots wielding guitars like literal axes.
Corn FLCL is a distinctly unique show with a strong idea and will powerfully appeal to those who enjoyed Cowboy Bebop. First, because both shows feature powerful music built around a genre – while at the same time Cowboy Bebopthe score of has jazz-inspired riffs, a large part FLCL‘s OST was developed by the Japanese rock band The pillows. But the themes are where the two shows really connect. While Cowboy Bebop explore the complications of the past, FLCL is a program about adolescence. His bizarre stories are an incredible mosaic of the confusion we feel when we’re young, as we try to make sense of the world around us and our place in it, and the chaos that reigns as we search.
Samurai Champloo had his production team headed by Shinichiro Watanabe in his first directorial role after Cowboy Bebop. Samurai Champloo has a lot in common with Bebop, especially with the love of Watanbe to build his shows around music. But at the same time Bebop ‘the score was built around jazz, ChamplooThe music of has been mainly influenced by hip-hop. Samurai Champloo follows samurai Mugen and ronin Jin, who travel across another Edo-era Japan with waitress Fuu to find a mysterious samurai who smells like sunflowers.
Samurai Champloo don’t just share a director with Cowboy Bebop, but also some themes. Both shows explore the past, as we learn that the samurai the heroes seek is Fuu’s father, whom she tries to find in revenge. Corn Samurai Champloo the end is not as tragic as Cowboy Bebop‘s, leaving viewers with a much more robust experience watching both than either one would give on its own.
Gurren Lagann takes place in the distant future where humanity has been subjugated and pushed underground by the Spiral King, who gives his army of Beastmen mechas called Gunmen, which they use to suppress humans. Gurren Lagann follows Simon, a digger who lives in one of these underground cities, and, alongside his big brother Kamina, Simon joins a resistance of humans fighting against the tyranny of the Spiral King, not knowing that a much greater threat great waited in the stars.
There are essential differences between Cowboy Bebop and Gurren Lagann. Gurren Lagann is a much less grounded sci-fi story because it incorporates some fantastic elements alongside its giant mecha, and it is overall more comedic than Be-bop. But they are also concerned with the themes of time. While Bebop reflects on the past with bittersweet melancholy, Gurren Lagann look to the future with unbridled joy and hope. On the surface, these themes clash, but the two shows examine the idea of getting the most out of your life through different lenses.
Psycho-Pass takes place in a futuristic Japan where cops use special weapons armed by the Sybil system – an advanced computer AI that reads a criminal’s psychology and determines whether they warrant lethal force or just a stun setting. The show follows a novice detective, Akane Tsunemori, as she joins a unit in search of a criminal who can evade Sybil Systems and uses his genius to evade authorities.
Morality is a theme that Cowboy Bebop touch lightly and Psycho-Pass kisses with all my heart. But the strongest connection between the two is in how they operate as detailed character studies. Psycho-Pass relies much more on its dark sci-fi setting to do so compared to Bebop, but both use their stories to explore how life changes us, how it makes some of us jaded and leads others to crime. It’s a little darker, but Psycho-Pass is as interested in examining a group of fascinating characters as Cowboy Bebop.
While Megalobox was released in 2018, the art style and editing make it look like a 90s anime that could have aired alongside Cowboy Bebop. But art style isn’t the only thing shows have in common. With the ingrained sci-fi, scrappy protagonist, and heavy hip-hop soundtrack, it’s almost surprising that Watanabe wasn’t a part of making this show. While the influences of works like Cowboy Bebop shine in Megalobox, it is also his own show.
Located in the near future, Megalobox about Junk Dog, a young man who fights in rigged megalobox tournaments. Megaloboxing is the sport of the time, when two opponents boxed each other by wearing mechanical exoskeletons called Gear. We never learn Junk Dog’s real name while he fights in the slums, but he takes the name Joe after he forges some ID and travels to the big city to fight in a renowned megalobox tournament. Megalobox uses this setting to explore multiple themes, including family and found class, as the second season expands to examine the struggles of addiction and fame.
Plastic Souvenirs is another show that makes the list reflecting on how the weather affects us. contrary to Gurren Lagannthe future full of hope or Cowboy Bebopmeditate on an eventful past, Plastic Souvenirs focuses more on using the present tense as time slowly passes. A little like Cowboy Bebop, Plastic Souvenirs is nearing its tragic end, but its tragedy unfolds throughout the series rather than appearing here and there.
Plastic Souvenirs takes place in a near-future city where SAI Corporation has created Giftias, androids that look exactly like humans with full identities and emotions. But Griftias only have a lifespan of 81,920 hours, after which they lose their personality and sense of reason. The anime follows Tsukasa Mizugazi, a member of a Terminator division tasked with collecting Giftias near the end of their lifespan by the SAI Corporation. Tsukasa is twinned with Isla, a dying Giftia – and the couple fall in love while they work. The slow-building romance uses the impending tragedy to create a deeply moving story about using the time we have before it is wasted on us.
Death threat rounds out the list with another anime classic. Death threat follows a genius high school student named Light Yagami after he finds a black notebook on the floor that promises to kill anyone whose name is written in it. When Light verifies that the power of the book is real, he decides to become a god of justice and methodically kills criminals to purify the world as he sees fit. He is accompanied by a shinigami, a Japanese god of death named Ryuk who possessed Light’s Death Note. Light becomes known as Kira, and the Japanese government hires L, a notoriously skilled and eccentric detective to hunt him down.
One of Cowboy BebopThe main characters of Spike, have an intense rivalry with an old nemesis, Vicious. The rivalry between Light and L in Death threat is no less intense, and in this case, takes center stage for the show rather than appearing only occasionally. Death threat also thinks a little about death, just like Cowboy Bebop, but through the prism of punishment rather than inevitability Bebop uses.
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