If there’s one thing that Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop series is chock full of, it’s references and Easter eggs to the original 1998 anime. Starring John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Danielle Pineda as bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine, the live-action Cowboy Bebop series is eager to flex its bonafides by peppering each episode with visual nods not only to the anime but to other films and albums referenced by the anime. So much in fact, it’s almost difficult to tell what is an allusion and what is actually pertinent to the show itself.
To that end, we’ve meticulously combed through the entire 10-episode season to bring together a list of every on-screen Easter egg we could find in Netflix’s new Cowboy Bebop!
Episode 1 “Cowboy Gospel”
Right from the jump, Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop hits viewers with a nod to the original series via the name of one of its most well-known creators. The “Watanabe Casino” is reference to Shinichirō Watanabe, the director of 1998’s Cowboy Bebop who alongside screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto, animation director Toshihiro Kawamoto, key animator Yutaka Nakamura, and composer Yoko Kanno is recognized as one of the chief creative forces behind the anime. Watanabe also served as a creative consultant on the Netflix Cowboy Bebop series.
“Spiders From Mars”
The ashtray which Spike disposes of his cigarette in is adorned with the words “Spiders From Mars,” a reference to David Bowie’s 1972 glam rock album “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.” The ashtray itself is a reference to one glimpsed in the third episode of the original Cowboy Bebop, “Honky Tonk Women,” which was also set in a hotel.
Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space
When Spike flips his fifty Woolong coin in the air, a shot can be seen of the coin’s reverse side with an astronaut helmet surrounded by the words “Valentina Tereshkova; the first woman in space.” This is a reference to the real-life cosmonaut who, on June 16, 1963, launched aboard the Vostok 6 spacecraft and became the first female astronaut in space. While not a nod to the original Cowboy Bebop per se, it’s still a cool and innocuous bit of worldbuilding on part of the live-action series.
Children playing soccer in front of “Free Titan” Graffiti
The graffiti stencil seen in New Tijuana with the words “Free Titan” refers to the Titan War, an largely off-screen event referenced in the original Cowboy Bebop anime which plays a pivotal part in the backstory of both Spike’s nemesis Vicious and his former comrade Gren. Both Vicious and Gren have significantly different backstories in the live-action series compared to the original anime, though the Titan War is still referenced throughout the series.
Space Warriors t-shirt on a rack
The t-shirt with the logo of a cartoon sea rat seen on the rack next to the woman talking to Spike is a reference to the eco-terrorist group known as the “Space Warriors” in the fourth episode of the original Cowboy Bebop, “Gateway Shuffle.” The group themselves appear in the fourth episode of the live-action Cowboy Bebop series, “Callisto Soul.”
The three old men
The three old men seen talking to Spike are a reference to Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim; the three old men who appear throughout eight of the original episodes of the Cowboy Bebop anime. The names of the characters are a reference to the Brazilian composer Antônio Carlos Jobim, and the trio themselves are seen again bowling beside the Bebop crew in the eighth episode of the live-action series, “Sad Clown A-Go-Go.”
Episode 2 “Venus Pop”
A photo of Steve Blum on refrigerator
As Spike and Jet peer at the severed artificial hand of the Teddy Bomber, a photo of who appears to be Steve Blum, the original English voice actor for Spike Spiegel in the anime, can be seen hanging on the refrigerator in the background.
Wall scroll of a crane in Vicious’ penthouse
The crane wall scroll seen hanging in Vicious’ penthouse is a reference to the original character’s unnamed pet who was first introduced in the fifth episode of the original anime, “Ballad of Fallen Angels.”
The names of the Syndicate Elders
The council of elders in charge of the Red Dragon syndicate are noticeably different than they are in the original anime. For starters, the “Red Dragon syndicate” is just called “the Syndicate” now, and the elders themselves are no longer called “the Van.” If you watch the scene where the elders question and humiliate Vicious in front of his wife Julia with subtitles, you’ll notice that each of the three members is named after a character from William Shakespeare’s The Tempest; Caliban, Prospero, and Miranda. Why? No clue, but that’s an Easter egg for ya!
Episode 4 “Callisto Soul”
“Mushroom Samba” on the menu
When Spike looks over the dinner menu in “Callisto Soul,” one of the dishes is named “Mushroom Samba.” This is a reference to the name of the 17th episode of original anime where Edward and Ein search for food after the Bebop crash-lands on Io and end up on the trail of a dealer of illicit hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Episode 5 “Darkside Tango”
“Jamming With Edward: The Supernatural Explored”
When Jet and his former ISSP partner Fad approach the counter of the opium den, the receptionist is reading a magazine with the title, “Jamming With Edward: The Supernatural Explored.” This is a reference to the title of the ninth episode of the Cowboy Bebop anime, which itself is a reference to the 1972 Rolling Stones album of the same name.
Episode 8 “Sad Clown A-Go-Go”
Cherious Medical, the clandestine laboratory holding Pierrot Lefou in the eighth episode of Cowboy Bebop, “Sad Clown A-Go-Go,” is named after the pharmaceutical company responsible for the bioweapon used by Vincent Volaju in 2001’s Cowboy Bebop: The Movie. Volaju is referenced in the final moments of the season, so it’s reasonable to assume that the company will make another appearance in the future.
Mad Pierrot recites the “Tears in the Rain” speech from Blade Runner
When Mad Pierrot is roaming through the abandoned grounds of the “Earthland” amusement park, he happens upon a glass case containing a Tongpu jester’s outfit. He then breaks out into a soliloquy where he paraphrases Roy Batty’s “Tears in the rain” monologue from the 1982 film Blade Runner … in French. Why? I have no idea, but that’s an Easter egg!
Jet namedrops a whole bunch of Blade Runner references
After interrupting Spike from going off to fight Pierrot Lefou on his own, Jet confronts him with his mistaken suspicions that Spike was an ex-special forces soldier before becoming a bounty hunter. He then asks whether he served on the “Shoulder of Orion” or “Tanhauser’s Gate.” Both of these names are references to locations mentioned in Roy Batty’s “Tears in the rain” speech in the 1982 film Blade Runner, which itself was directly referenced in the previous scene by Mad Pierrot.
“An old Lee Marvin picture”
While rehearsing the plan for how the trio will fight Pierrot Lefou, Spike asks Jet why the plan has to rhyme. Jet replies that it helps to retain the plan and that he saw it in, “an old Lee Marvin picture.” This is a reference to the 1967 film The Dirty Dozen, wherein Lee Marvin’s character Major John Reisman teaches a squad of convicted murderers a 16-verse rhyming chant in order to remember their roles in a coordinated mission to assassinate several high-ranking Nazi officers.