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Cult Entertainment Hat Tips Buried in Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop is now on Netflix

Well, it’s here. Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is now streaming — all ten episodes. We recommend getting caught up ASAP, since there are a couple of newsworthy spoilers out there.

In all its forms, the series has been an amalgam of inspirations. So it’s no surprise the new series hat-tips plenty of stuff beyond the show itself. There’s one extended callback to a sci-fi film classic, but we’ll leave that one for you to see in context. In the meantime, here are a few references (at least two of which were fully intentional) that we caught while watching.


Steins;Gate Soda


The new Cowboy Bebop “remixes” elements of the original series, meaning you’ll see familiar story elements recontextualized. For example, the episode “Callisto Soul” is a mash-up of the anime episodes “Honky-Tonk Women” and “Gateway Shuffle.” It’s our first close look at Faye Valentine after the pilot episode — and it’s got some anime-worthy product names at the front.

As Faye is on her way to her next port of call, she passes several billboards in space. One, for “Dr. People,” uses the same off-brand Dr. Pepper name as the Steins;Gate visual novel. (Anime fans will have seen it as “Dk. Pepper.”) Not long after, you get a classic WcDonald’s — as seen in pretty much every anime.


The Spanish Brat

Hello, my name is...

In the Cowboy Bebop episodes “Darkside Tango,” Jet sticks Spike and Faye in a metaphorical get-along shirt before going on a personal mission. As in the anime session “Black Dog Serenade,” that mission is tied to his time in the ISSP. Considering the nature of Jet’s work, a nod to a certain character from The Princess Bride only seems right.

Back on the Bebop, Big Shot is running a leaderboard, showing how many cowboys have taken down escaped prisoners from a transport ship. One name you’ll see on the board is “The Spanish Brat Inigo” — a throwback to Inigo Montoya. While the name slides by quickly (to be followed by other referential names), it’s an appropriate call-back for a story about betrayed loyalties.


Those Captain Planet shorts?? Maybe??

Twinkle Maria Murdock and her faithful family

We’re back on “Callisto Soul,” which may be straight-up one of the oddest episodes of the new Cowboy Bebop. (And for a season that turns “Brain Scratch” into a time-looping Michel Gondry-esque nightmare, that’s saying something.) As in “Gateway Shuffle,” Maria Murdock is back to be environmentally conscious in all the wrong ways. She’s still wielding a nasty gene-altering virus that’ll return humans to their roots. But instead of devolving them with “Monkey Business,” it… oh God. Well, let’s just be real. It’s that whole thing from the Captain Planet Funny or Die parodies starring Don Cheadle. But this time with lots more gore, and a cheerful Yoko Kanno soundtrack over it.

Is this necessarily a reference to the skits? No. However, the alternative is that two completely different people a decade apart independently woke up and chose arboreal body horror…. So we’re just going to say it’s a knowing reference.

Cowboy Bebop is now streaming on Netflix.

Kara Dennison

Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and presenter with bylines at Crunchyroll, Sci-Fi Magazine, Sartorial Geek, and many others. She is a contributor to the celebrated Black Archive line, with many other books, short stories, and critical works to her name.