For today’s installment of Side Dishes we take a look at a key member of the Bebop crew – Jet Black.
Jet is an ex-cop who serves as the de facto father figure on the Bebop. Generally the voice of reason in most situations that the crew gets into, Jet is the cooler head that seldom prevails. While Spike, Faye, and Ed are often running around getting into various shenanigans, Jet is providing support and keeping the team grounded. Jet is often the one reminding the crew that they need to invest in food, fuel, and needed repairs for their equipment instead of running off and squandering their earnings.
Jet also has the benefit of being an incredibly diverse character. He has a number of distinctive visual quirks that help him stand out – a scar and metal ring over his right eye, his bald head, and a cybernetic arm. Of particular note is that his cybernetic arm is one of most stylish prosthetics in all of fiction. This is no mere claw or static limb, but a fully human-looking arm with muscles molded in. Muscles!
Just like the rest of the Bebop crew, Jet is running from his past. Whereas Spike is running from a criminal past, Faye has amnesia, and Ed is a complete mystery, Jet’s past is not necessarily about failure. Obviously there are times in his past where he has failed the people that trusted him, either those he loved or those that relied on him, but it’s more than that. Jet’s past is about being near-perfect, but for him that is just not good enough. He expects the best from himself, and any minor misstep is magnified because he has such high standards for everyone. This makes his personal and professional issues, while they may seem minor to the rest of the crew, deeply unsettling to Jet. Just like the rest of the Bebop crew he would rather run from his problems and head into the stars. Instead of facing his issues head on he chooses to act as a mentor for the rest of the cast. By judging others in the role of a father figure, he can distance himself from his own mistakes.
While he may not be as flashy as the other characters in Cowboy Bebop, Jet is the rock hard core of the main cast. He delivers helpful advice and guidance, useful exposition for the audience, and keeps everything moving on tempo. He is the harmony, the rhythmic bass line, the steady beat that everyone else riffs off of.
And he trims a mean bonsai tree to boot.