Back in the late 90s and early 2000s, Cowboy Bebop was a gateway series for anime in general.
Shinichirō Watanabe seamlessly combined science fiction and western classics with his series. Set in 2071, the anime follows a ragtag team of bounty hunters who work together to make ends meet.
Cowboy Bebop regularly deals with existentialism, so their character interactions are a clear highlight. It's only fitting that fans also give similar animes a chance. Here's a look at a few series that might resonate with them.
Note: This article is subjective and reflects the writer's personal views. This list also contains other works that belong to Shinichirō Watanabe.
Space Dandy, Terror in Resonance and 6 other anime that share some similarities with Cowboy Bebop
1) Macross Plus
A few years before Cowboy Bebop, Watanabe had worked on a four-episode OVA series. Macross Plus deals with similar themes of space battles and artificial intelligence, with a focus on character relationships.
This is a story about two former childhood friends caught in a love triangle. It also features a snarky main character with a troubled past, not unlike Spike Spiegel.
Macross Plus was a groundbreaking series for its time. It combines traditional cel animation with computer-generated technology. For that reason alone, it's definitely worth a watch.
2) Kids on the Slope
Watanabe himself directed this series from Yuki Kodama. Kids on the Slope has been highly praised for its visual beauty, deep analytical themes and general art direction. Cowboy Bebop was built on these very principles.
Kids on the Slope features a bunch of high schoolers who develop friendships through jazz music. The anime is a coming-of-age story since many of the characters have to mature with their life experiences.
Watanabe also deals with LGBT themes in this work, so it may resonate with that particular audience.
3) Terror in Resonance
Also known as Terror in Tokyo, this anime is a far more serious work from Watanabe. It deals with survivors of a secret government experiment who are determined to reveal themselves to the world.
The character writing definitely needs some work, but the animation style and official soundtrack are top-notch. MAPPA is the studio behind the series, which makes absolutely perfect sense.
At the very least, Cowboy Bebop fans can watch as Watanabe dips his toes into the psychological thriller genre.
4) Carole and Tuesday
Carole and Tuesday is yet another series that is set in the same time period as Cowboy Bebop. Fifty years after humans colonized Mars, two young girls must work together to make it in the music industry.
Music has always been a critical aspect of Watanabe's creative works. Carole and Tuesday features several original songs from multiple genres. These range from moody synthpop to operatic rap. More importantly, they are sung by none other than professional singers.
Carole and Tuesday is far more light-hearted than Cowboy Bebop, but they are both connected by their emotionally driven plots. Fans will get behind the main characters as they attempt to achieve greatness.
5) Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
Cowboy Bebop is far more grounded in reality, but the action is what keeps viewers tuning in. The same can be said for Gurren Lagann.
Animated by the legendary Studio Gainax, this series features awesome mecha fights and a colorful fusion of musical genres. "Libera Me From Hell" is absolutely worth a listen for that reason.
Gurren Lagann is more than just mere fan service. The characters are charismatic, and the risks are very real. It's easy to get emotionally invested in this anime.
1998 was a very good year for anime fans. Cowboy Bebop and Trigun both deal with slick protagonists carrying a heavy burden.
Trigun involves a desert outlaw with a huge bounty on his own head. Unlike most gunslingers, Vash the Stampede refuses to kill anybody. The overall tone can go from serious to comedic within a moment's notice.
Similar to Cowboy Bebop, this series also takes inspiration from the Western genre. That seems to be a recurring theme for most anime in the 90s.
7) Space Dandy
Space Dandy is yet another science fiction anime from Watanabe. It features a space explorer who must discover new alien races. More often than not, he always gets himself into trouble.
Cowboy Bebop fans can definitely appreciate this anime's experimental range. Every single episode has a different art director assigned to it.
The show itself has a loose continuity, which means characters end up dying in one episode only to show up in the next. It's far more comedic in nature than any other series on this list.
8) Samurai Champloo
Watanabe began work on Samurai Champloo shortly after Cowboy Bebop ended. The series is highly regarded for its visual style and exciting fight scenes. The choreography deserves praise for its dynamic movement.
Unlike most works from Watanabe, Samurai Champloo is set in the past, albeit with anachronistic tones. Three strangers journey across Japan, all while encountering various enemies.
Watanabe loves to blend various genres together. Samurai Champloo is a multicultural series that features a mixture of Edo-period Japan and western hip-hop. The rule of cool definitely applies to this series.
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