Director(s): Shinchiro Watanabe
Script: Akihiko Inari, Aya Yoshinaga, Dai Sato, Keiko Nobumoto, Michiko Yokote, Ryota Yamaguchi, Sadayuki Murai, Shoji Kawamori, Shinichiro Watanabe
Music: Yoko Kanno
I'm probably going to seem like a "entry level" anime fan for saying this, but Cowboy Bebop is probably the perfect anime. I think Cowboy Bebop is absolutely a product of genius. I think genius minds conceived and executed the concepts, story, and production of this series.
The show is episodic, yes, but rather than being a bunch of completely unrelated adventures that just feature the core cast in different situations, the episodes are more like a series of short little films that each reveal a little more of the bigger picture, not necessarily of the main underlying plot, but something much more important, which is the world and atmosphere, the environment and attitudes which are pervasive in the show. The very lives of the characters are "episodic", but an episode rarely ends without having made some headway in unveiling more of the tapestry of this world the characters live in.
The main plot, the plot of Spike's past with the Red Dragon, that's something that keeps together the threads, but ultimately only exemplifies- well, perhaps more than that, epitomizes- the grander attitude of the entire work. The production values are breathtaking, some still by today's standards.
The soundtrack, by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts, is especially spellbinding. The show is very stylish, and so more cynical folks may be lured into believing the show is "style over substance", but the style becomes part of its substance, much in the way a Tarintino film both indulges in and skewers pop art culture. It's a show that feels almost as new every new time I watch as it did the first time.
The characters are charming, charismatic, and colorful, the character design is excellent, as is the animation. The music is breathtaking. The action is palpable. The themes are presented fantastically, and you get a real "feel" for what the show is about overall. Perhaps the most representative of what anime can accomplish, it is both entertaining and provocative. It's a rousing jazzy ballad of the bizarre and the sorrowful. It's a must see for anyone.