Sure, bounty hunters are cool, I guess, but why settle for your average podunk, business-up-front-party-in-the-back haircut-havin’ nobody when you can take your bounty hunting hijinks to SPACE? There’s nothing quite like a good space bounty hunter saga, and there’s a heaping helping available to watch right now on VRV. Gather up a scrappy team of rogues, set yourself up with an appropriately weathered sidearm, and choose a target from some of the most dangerous bounties in the star system below.
TARGET 1: Cowboy Bebop
Threat Level: Unpredictably Hungry
There’s a reason the Cowboy Bebop crew make so many Best Anime of All Time and Top Gateway Anime lists year after year. The pulpy, jazz-infused style of Shinichiro Watanabe’s 1998 classic is infectious, and it doesn’t appear to have aged a day over the past two decades. The setup is classic space bounty hunter material, full of scores to settle and jobs that literally decide whether Spike and the gang get to eat or put fuel in their ship this week or not. One day they’re hunting down a scumbag who deals in an illegal performance-enhancing drug known as Red Eye, and the next they’re tripping balls and chasing trains in the desert.
Bebop hits the perfect notes with its characters, from the rough-and-tumble Spike Spiegel to the lethal Faye Valentine and all the other unforgettable cast members that make repeat viewings a must. With top-notch production by Sunrise and an infinitely playable soundtrack by Yoko Kanno, the results are a truly timeless space cowboy feast worth stretching out and savoring.
TARGET 2: Killjoys
Threat Level: Extremely Haunting Pasts
In the world of bounty hunting you never know who you can trust, so sometimes you have to keep even your closest partners in the dark. This goes doubly so whenever you feel like you’re about to do something really stupid, which is frequently the case with Reclamation Apprehension Coalition (RAC) agent Johnny Jaqobis. Thankfully he has Yalena “Dutch” Yardeen to rein him in or, more accurately, bail him out on a regular basis. Add Johnny’s older brother D’avin into the mix and you have the principal cast of Killjoys, the only live-action show dangerous enough to end up with its poster on this wall of top-bill bounties.
With the fourth season currently airing, the first three are now available for a relentless 30-episode binge. The first episode alone has an escape from certain death, a vicious brother-on-brother cage fight, and enough underground chicanery and early world-building to fuel the rest of the season and beyond.
TARGET 3: Outlaw Star
Threat Level: Problematic Fave
Anime fans who were hungry for more spacefaring antics after Cowboy Bebop inevitable turned toward Outlaw Star, which just so happened to come from the very same studio. This one, however, was based on a manga by Takehiko Itō, which ran in the pages of Ultra Jump from 1996 to 1999. As tempting as it is to lump these two space western bounty hunter sagas together, the jobs Gene Starwind and his pint-sized associate Jim take on bleed into an overarching story that’s a different beast entirely.
Whether they’re working as body guards or tackling other odd jobs throughout the galaxy, Gene tends to end up being the one on everyone else’s most-wanted poster. Thankfully, his shoot-first mentality gets them out of some potentially nasty jams, giving them the opportunity to see another day and hop aboard the Outlaw Star to hunt down pirates and locate the priceless bounty known as the Galactic Leyline. Mitsuru Hongo (World Trigger, Tenkai Knights) directs this intergalactic outing, which is, like so many others of its era, the pure definitions of late ’90s TV anime.
TARGET 4: Space Dandy
Threat level: BooBies Regular
Dandy might just be the least dangerous character on this list, but his show is everything a genre enthusiast could ever want. Cowboy Bebop‘s Shinichiro Watanabe is back at the helm as chief director for what ends up being more of a wild, occasionally psychedelic showcase of some of the best animators in the field. The story follows the eponymous Dandy in Space as he hunts down unknown life forms and gets them registered for the big bucks. Even with his robot sidekick QT and the cat-like Betelgeusian creature known as Meow on his side, though, these jobs are never as straightforward as they seem.
While there’s definitely no one in the galaxy as cool as Dandy, the real star of his show is the production behind it. The list of director credits alone represent a veritable who’s who of the anime industry, including the likes of Shingo Natsume (One-Punch Man), Sayo Yamamoto (Yuri!!! on ICE, Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine), and the inimitable Masaaki Yuasa (Mind Game, Lu Over the Wall), just to name a few. With all the idiosyncratic styles on display, there’s never a dull moment over the course of Space Dandy‘s rollicking, high-flying 26-episode run.
TARGET 5: Deep Space 69
Threat Level: Self-Explanatory
No one said bounty hunting was easy, and they definitely didn’t say you wouldn’t get your hands (and everything else) dirty in the process. It just wouldn’t be a list of the most dangerous space bounty hunter shows without Deep Space 69, which is exactly what it sounds like. Marvel as Jay and Hamilton take on mission after mission, all of which seem to culminate in something absurdly raunchy, like… man boobs, and aliens that become particularly attached to their targets. There’s no questioning what you’re about to get into the moment you see a spaceship that looks like it would be more at home in an episode of The Ambiguously Gay Duo.
Somewhere along the way, though, our unlikely pair of heroes get to know one another and reveal a deep subtext to all of their seemingly stupid and pointless shenanigans. Just kidding; it’s mostly dick and boob jokes, so strap in for a night of downing shot-sized episodes with titles like “The Crotch Hugger,” “License to Bone,” and “Shipphylis.”