You're Gonna Carry That Weight.
Anime has always been something of a niche market, never popular with the general public, always regulated to the hardcore fans of a specific genre, such as the ever-present Mecha genre. Cowboy Bebop opened people's eyes with one simple word - "TANK!"
Bebop's vast array of characters are all brilliantly designed, developed, and utilised perfectly (even minor, one-shot characters) - from the enigmatic Spike, to the strong-willed Jet, to the femme fatale Faye, and the insane Ed. All start off seemingly as typical characters, but as they story progresses, we see what drives them, what they've been through, and why they do what they do. The truly wonderful voicework from both English and Japanese voice-tracks, and the sound of the production segues directly into the music of the show itself.
Yoko Kanno obviously wishes to prove that she cannot create a bad soundtrack, because she is on top par here; Cowboy Bebop doesn't know what 'bad' means - from the opening theme, TANK, which instantly alerts you to the action and excitement ahead. The closing theme, 'The Real Folk Blues' may be even better, invoking a sense of just how good the episode was.
However, there are some unfortunate blemishes on what would otherwise be a perfect anime. Some episodes feel hastily written or off-beat, away from the usual style of the show, save for the fact that every episode had me so engrossed in the world-builiding and backstory, even if the struggles of the characters wasn't particularly intriguing. Some fantastic episodes stand out from the rest; 'Pierrot le Fou' for the dark and noir feeling; every episode where Vicious appeared; and of course, the finale. Julia's dying words to Spike - "It's all a dream" - gives me chills every time.
Anime has popularity that is growing fast, the range of genres broading due to the pure amount of variety in its selection, which numbers over 100 titles, and Cowboy Bebop is one of those series that is the reason for this. Anime series have strange effects on me: Gurren Lagann made me grit my teeth and stand strong; Code Geass made me want to change the world; Death Note made me stare out of car windows, plotting, planning...
Cowboy Bebop made me want to light up one last smoke, lean against a wall in a dingy alley, close my eyes to the jazz and go out with a "Bang".
See You, Space Cowboy...