It has been more than twenty years since it first hit the airwaves, but Cowboy Bebop remains one of the coolest, most stylish anime of all time. With its jazz-funk opening, classic art style and expert blend of action and comedy, it easily holds up to this day.
And no-one embodies everything that makes Cowboy Bebop work like Spike Spiegel, the space cowboy at the centre of the story.
If there is anyone cooler in anime than Spike Spiegel, I don’t know them, so he seems the perfect fit for this week’s Hump Day Husbando feature.
Who is Spike Spiegel?
After an accident leaves Earth uninhabitable, humanity is forced to colonise the rest of the solar system — but with so much space to keep track of, the authorities need some extra help tracking down outlaws and criminals. That’s where bounty hunters like Spike Spiegel come in. Aboard the spaceship Bebop, Spike is always on his way to his next job alongside fellow bounty hunter, Jet Black.
Like all the best characters, there is a heavy dose of tragedy in Spike Spiegel’s past. As a former member of a dangerous crime syndicate, he is always looking over his shoulder, waiting for the day when his past mistakes catch up to him. In the meantime, he’s cruising around the solar system, picking up bounties and making enough money to keep the Bebop cruising along.
Why we love him
There is little that we don’t love about Spike Spiegel, to be fair. There is a reason he is rated near the top of any list of male anime characters. He embodies everything that was great about Han Solo, with his cool, confident swagger and unflappable exterior. He seems capable of walking into any situation and finding a way to walk out of it alive and, more importantly, with a bit of money for his trouble.
Throughout the show, Spike has a cocky smile on his face, but he also has the fighting skills to back it up. Whether it’s a group of eco-terrorists bent on unleashing a plague on the remnants of humanity or a monster that has spawned from the back of the Bebop’s fridge, there isn’t any problem Spike Spiegel can’t tackle.
A lot of Spike’s character was based on Bruce Lee, including his penchant for waxing philosophical about life, fighting, and everything in between. The balance between the action-oriented scenes and Spike’s softer, more thoughtful side are what give Cowboy Bebop a lot of its heart. By the time his troubled past catches up with him, you’re rooting for him not just because he’s the coolest guy in the solar system but because he seems like a genuine person rather than a character in an anime. There is an effortless cool to how he carries himself that never drops throughout the show’s 26 episode run.
Why you’ll love him
Spike Spiegel might not be the original space cowboy, but he is easily one of the best. His ’70s suit and afro give him a retro feel that fits in perfectly with the retro-future aesthetic of Cowboy Bebop. As the story opens up and we learn more about the angsty past that shaped him, it becomes obvious why this show and this character are held in such high regard more than two decades after their debut.
If you haven’t seen Cowboy Bebop, you absolutely need to catch it (for free!) on All4. From the first blare of the horns in the show’s iconic opening sequence to Spike’s intentionally ambiguous fate at the end, Cowboy Bebop is a nearly flawless show and essential viewing for any anime fan.
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