Hey, Cowboy. We Have Some Anime Suggestions!
The only bad thing we have to say about Cowboy Bebop is that it was so short. We wish there were more episodes, but sadly we binge the same few every time the mood strikes. It being the 25th anniversary of our favorite space cowboy anime, we’ve been watching a lot of new shows hoping to find anime like Cowboy Bebop to help us remember the good times. Well you know what they say, cowboy, easy come easy go — and these anime shows are so good, they’re easy to watch.
This anime has a lot of the same themes as Cowboy Bebop. Space travel is normalized and people travel all throughout the universe. Dandy is an alien hunter (and by hunter we mean finder, no aliens were harmed — wait, okay, some aliens were harmed in the making of this anime). Every new species of alien found gives Dandy a big payout. The world of alien-hunting is highly competitive, though, and finding new species is harder than it sounds. He travels with a cat-like alien, Meow, and a worn-down robot, QT. The series has a great sense of humor and just the right amount of action.
Like Cowboy Bebop, the show follows a lanky hero who is constantly looking for his next payday so he doesn’t starve…but from there, they quickly diverge. The space epic feels similar in some ways, but not in others. While we love this series and its quirky take on life in space, we can sometimes get a little tired of the fan service. If you can get past that, the series has a lot to enjoy. It’s a wild romp through alien planets in search of the next great discovery, and it’s a lot of fun.
When a portal opens in New York (now called Hellsalem’s Lot), and a barrier traps all who are there within the city, the supernatural and the human must learn to co-exist. A secret organization called Libra maintains the balance and keeps the supernatural from spilling out into the rest of the world. Leonardo Watch heads to Hellsalem’s Lot after he is granted the sight of the gods (at the cost of his sister’s eyesight). He ends up getting recruited to Libra, and this once-normal kid is dragged into all manner of strange adventures. The anime is filled with superpowers, monsters, and hijinks.
The music is what first made us think of Cowboy Bebop, as the soundtrack features predominantly jazz. However, the incredible animation, interesting characters, and dynamic fight scenes really make this show. If you are looking for something newer that will fill the void that Cowboy Bebop left, this might be what you’re looking for.
Coyote Ragtime Show
The show’s premise is simple, but there is a lot more to it than just pirates in space. A group of pirates called “Coyotes” is on the hunt for treasure, but things are complicated by a pair of federal agents and a gang of robotic maids trying to hunt our heroes (and we use the term ‘heroes’ loosely). Oh yeah, and all of this is happening while an intergalactic war threatens to break out. The Milky Way Federation plans to bomb Graceland, which is a problem for the Coyotes because their biggest score is hiding somewhere on the planet.
The first episode is epic on the level that most anime won’t ever achieve. The score is inspired by ragtime, and the characters have great chemistry. We have to give the show a little guff because the characters aren’t all that deep, but they make up for it in interactions and story. We really enjoyed this romp, and the robotic maids are an interesting twist on one of the chasing parties. It’s only 12 episodes, too, so much like Cowboy Bebop, it’s over far too soon.
Gun X Sword
This anime follows a lot of the same themes as Cowboy Bebop, but in a rather different way. The protagonist is Van, an aloof anti-hero hellbent on revenge. The plot has been done before, but the western themes are not lost to this anime. Van is hunting down The Claw Man (a man with a claw for an arm — original, we know) to take revenge against him. The Claw Man killed Van’s wife on his wedding day. He travels, begrudgingly, with Wendy, a girl who’s brother was kidnapped by The Claw Man.
While the themes of Cowboy Bebop are echoed and Van has many striking similarities to Spike, this anime stands well on its own. It lacks the normalized space travel of Cowboy Bebop and focuses heavily on Mechs (called Armors). The anime overall is serious, but it has lighter moments that flow throughout, including Van’s love of condiments.
This anime lacks a lot of the intense action of Cowboy Bebop, but it follows the lives of a group of strange people in space, which we feel is a good followup to our favorite anime space western. The story primarily follows Ai Tanabe, a girl born on earth who wants to find her destiny in the stars. Set in 2075, humanity has colonized the moon. Now space debris, once a seldom talked about issue, is the bane of corporations and colonists traveling between the two.
Ai joins the Debris Section of Technora, only to find that her division is the laughing stock of the company. She spends her time getting to know the strange personalities on the derelict junk collecting ship on the backdrop of the stars. It’s not a speedy show, but the characters and animation make it really worthwhile. It’s an anime about chasing dreams and is great if you like stories about people.
This anime is old. Way old. Older than Cowboy Bebop. Lupin III was one of the first anime ever made with an adult audience in mind — and, if we must be honest, we think Cowboy Bebop borrowed from some of the atmosphere of Lupin. Lupin III is the grandson of the great thief Arsene Lupin and follows gleefully in his footsteps. He and his gunman, Daisuke Jigen set out to steal all the valuables they can get their hands on. Lupin is constantly one step ahead of the law and does it all with a great sense of humor. He finds himself in love with the femme fatale Fujiko Mine who is sometimes on his side, and sometimes…not.
The whole thing is a gleeful crime spree and definitely worth your time. There was even a Hayao Miyazaki movie made following the titular thief called Castle Cagliostro (and we 1000% recommend it). The humor throughout is fantastic, and all the characters are really interesting. We find ourselves going back to Lupin III almost as often as we go back to Cowboy Bebop.
Set in 1930’s America, you might not see the parallels right away but bear with us. We’ll get there. The story follows what seem to be unrelated plotlines that eventually tangle together. The transcontinental train, the Flying Pussyfoot, begins its legendary voyage, mafia violence ramps up, an ambitious scientist looks for missing bottles of immortality elixir, and somehow all these things are related. Baccano, much like Cowboy Bebop, took liberties with traditional storytelling methods to follow several characters instead of just one. It is a tale of the price of immortality, and it’s one that will have you riveted to your seat.
The jazzy soundtrack perfectly fits the 1930’s setting, and the characters are believable and interesting. Each time we watch, we catch something we missed the first time or a bit of foreshadowing we never noticed. The storytelling is non-sequential in the style of pulp fiction, and it pulls it off with dazzling success — keeping you a little confused until it all comes together. The successful merge of action, drama, and comedy leaves you hungry for more.
This show, much like Cowboy Bebop, is a great fusion of different ideas. Instead of a space western, this is a blend of the modern world and the Edo period. It beautifully merges hip-hop and samurai culture into a glorious, action-packed anime that can’t be ignored. Fuu Kasumi gets herself in way over her head. She was happily working at a teahouse until she accidentally spilled tea on a patron. When the samurai begin to harass her, she calls on another in the shop to protect her. Mugen fights with a breakdance flair and after defeating them, picks a fight with the Ronin Jin. The ensuing battle destroys the tea house and they accidentally kill the magistrate’s son. Fuu rescues them and hires them to be her bodyguards while she seeks a samurai who smells of sunflowers. The adventure follows the quest, and Fuu’s attempts to keep them from killing each other.
This story has a complex cast who you feel deeply for. Each character has depth and stands as an individual. The fusion of Edo and hip-hop creates an incredible soundtrack that’s just as great as the one found in Cowboy Bebop. The mixture of seriousness and comedy makes it a fun watch, and we think it’s definitely worth the time investment.
Michiko & Hatchin
Ready to take a wild look into vibrant life under the South American sun? Enter Michiko Malandro. She escapes from prison (again) and goes off in search of her supposedly dead lover, Hiroshi Morenos. She then “kidnaps” Hana Morenos, the (also supposed) daughter of Heroshi, who had been dreaming of rescue from her terrible foster family so she could be swept away on an adventure. Well, she got more than she bargained for with Michiko. In a brutal land of gangs and violence, the pair set out on the journey to find Heroshi together.
We have to hand it to Manglobe, they delivered us a fresh anime that is surprisingly different from almost anything we’ve seen. The setting allows them to have a modern flair, but to visit differing locales. The score is phenomenal, and the characters are quirky and full of depth. While it is not a sci-fi epic like Cowboy Bebop, it has all the same feel and unique charm. Put this one on your must-watch list and get ready for an anime experience that will stick with you.
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