Cowboy Bebop: 5 Essential Anime Episodes to Watch Ahead of the Netflix Series

The Cowboy Bebop live-action series from Netflix is just around the corner, with the original anime available for streaming on both Netflix and Funimation. In addition to the character-centric episodes that will no doubt inform the character arcs of the new series, additional characters have been teased in both the opening sequence and trailer that are worth looking into.

These episodes not only introduce the teased characters, but also better contextualize their roles in the larger Bebop narrative.

"Asteroid Blues" Introduces Asimov and Katerina

Asimov Solensan in Cowboy Bebop

"Asteroid Blues" is the first episode of the anime series that also introduces two of its most memorable one-off characters: Asimov Solensan and his wife Katerina. They are a pair of drug dealers selling an illegal high-performance drug known only as Red Eye to high-paying customers, unaware of the price tag hanging over their own heads. It turns out they're being pursued by both bounty hunters and the Syndicate, the latter of which 'owns' the drug. It is later revealed that Vicious -- the series antagonist -- is the provider of Red Eye.

"Gateway Shuffle" Introduces the Space Warriors

Another memorable group of one-off villains is the Space Warriors led by Twinkle Maria Murdock. In their sole appearance in Episode 4 of the anime, "Gateway Shuffle," the Space Warriors violently execute a man eating Ganymede searat at an expensive restaurant. Their message? The Ganymede searat is an intelligent species of animal similar to dolphins that should neither be killed nor consumed. To further drive their message home, Twinkle Maria Murdock threatens to infect the entire human population on Ganymede with a virus that will turn them into monkeys if the government doesn't outlaw the consumption of the searat.

"Pierrot Le Fou" Introduces Mad Pierrot

Mad Pierrot

One of the most terrifying villains teased in the new live-action series is Mad Pierrot, also known as Tongpu. In his sole appearance in Episode 20, "Pierrot Le Fou," Mad Pierrot was mercilessly tortured and experimented on to the point of insanity. One day, he experienced a mental breakdown and murdered all his doctors and lab technicians, escaping from the facility in which he was being contained. Having enjoyed the experience of murder that first time, he continued doing so long after his escape for his own amusement. The only victim he targets who manages to survive the encounter is series protagonist Spike Spiegel.

"Cowboy Funk" Introduces Teddy Bomber

Although highly unlikely that the 22nd episode of the anime, "Cowboy Funk," will be reinterpreted in the live-action series, one of the characters teased in its opening sequence is the terrorist known as Teddy Bomber. In his sole appearance, Teddy Bomber is a man with a manifesto about corporate greed and how consumerism has caused people to lose their way in life. To make his point, he stuffs teddy bears with explosives and leaves them inside corporate buildings. He reasons that if he destroys corporate buildings and other monuments facilitated by capitalism, humanity will be forced to re-evaluate its values. This gets the attention of both Spike and another bounty hunter named Andy, although they end up competing against each other rather than focusing on capturing their bounty... much to his dismay.

'Brain Scratch' Introduces Dr. Londes

As the most psychologically disturbing episode of the anime, Episode 23, "Brain Scratch," introduces a mysterious cult leader known only as Dr. Londes. Somewhat inspired by the real-life Heaven's Gate cult leader, Marshall Applewhite, Dr. Londes is a mysterious personality who starts a popular 'soul migration' program called S.C.R.A.T.C.H that promises to relieve humanity of their mental and physical stressors. The program itself is designed to facilitate the abandonment of the physical body by having people upload their consciousness into a computer server, similar to what was seen in the "San Junipero" episode of the British series Black Mirror. This gets the attention of the Bebop bounty hunters, who quickly discover that Dr. Londes is a fictional character created by the imagination of a comatose teenager.

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