The manga version of Cowboy Bebop are alternate stories of the anime series. It was worked on by the production team of Cowboy Bebop under the pen name “Yukata Naten”. The manga focuses on four bounty hunters on board their ship “The Bebop” taking on various bounties across the galaxy and trying to survive a high crime rate. The group have to capture bounties alive because if the bounties end up dead, they are not paid.
The bounty hunters compromise of Ed, Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine. Each has their own dark and mysterious backstory and all have strikingly different personalities and flaws. Faye is addicted to gambling, Spike is lazy, Ed is insane and Jet is very stubborn. Despite their differences in personalities, they sometimes work together to capture a bounty and sometimes they compete against each other for a bounty.
The Cowboy Bebop anime was great and highly influential to many of todays’ entertainment. So how would the manga live up to the original anime given its cult status? Not that much but not that too bad either. For the most part, the manga is of faithful to the anime but provides no background of the main characters past.
The Cowboy Bebop manga story is told in a procedural format compared to the anime’s overarching narrative focusing on the bloody feud between Vicious and Spike. The manga focuses on the daily lives of the Bebop crew working together or against each other trying to capture bounty heads, and other strange encounters they have.
In the anime you are concerned about the characters as time goes by and they could be dead at any moment. In case anyone who has not watched the anime beforehand you are expected to know who they at the beginning. Characters don’t really have that much backstory to them. There is no mention of the antagonists the Red Dragon Syndicate or any of Spikes past or the other characters pasts as well. Introductions of characters are pretty odd as well such as all of the sudden, Ed now has a friend going by the name “Tomato” even though Ed is known to work alone.
There is some stuff in the story that feels unfinished and not explained properly.
Its more humor focused and less serious than the original anime. You may get a laugh at a few jokes sprinkled around.
In the anime the tone was pretty balanced with seriousness especially in Ballad Of Fallen Angels, Jupiter Jazz and The Real Folk Blues. The shows atmosphere was pretty mature and dark per its neo noir style. Here the atmosphere is more relaxed and lighthearted. It seems as if the bounty hunters did not take their work too seriously unless the bounty was millions of dollars.
Some of story ideas were pretty interesting and it could actually work if it was in the original tv show. However, much of them feel pretty uninteresting or rehashed from the show. One of the least appealing storyline was a spoiled rich bounty head just placing a bounty on himself out of boredom.
The multiple references to music and pop culture returns. The characters for the most part, are still just as accurate as in the show with their mannerisms and distinctive personalities. It does have a decent art style but nothing really like the original tv show that is so deeply detailed and stands out. However, the characters in the manga look like their anime counterparts.
Sometimes the characters in the manga are just plain dumb and do stupid things without regard for the consequences. One story features a reporter who is working on covering bounty hunters. She gets the team into a lot of trouble and nearly gets them killed time after time. She just keeps repeating her senseless antics. In the anime, the bounty hunters would have kicked her out the instant she requested to interview them. One character in the manga was almost a carbon copy of the original main villain Vicious. The action is pretty quick and it felt more tone downed compared to how ultra-violent the movie and the tv show are. The fights are easily won without much effort and the use of martial arts is still retained. There are dogfights in space and the chase scenes are quite exciting. The stories are fairly short as well and you could finish an entire story within a day or so. Overall, the manga version of Cowboy Bebop is a decent read and fans of the anime would get more out of it than newcomers to the franchise as they need no introduction to the main characters. This is for cowboy bebop fans to enjoy.
The manga gets 3 stars. I prefer the anime tv series rather than the manga as it is much more detailed and richer.