Cowboy Bebop: Jet Black Profile

Jet Black used to live life on the straight and narrow. He worked as an investigator for the ISSP, and he was a damn good one at that. His Columbo-like ability to hound suspects once he gets the whiff of any funny business earned Jet the nickname “The Black Dog”.  However, Jet’s devotion to his work cost him his wife Alisa. She just up and left one day while Jet was working, only leaving him a pocket watch and a simple note that said “Farewell”. Jet’s broken marriage, combined with his discovery of the massive corruption within the ISSP, left Jet disenfranchised with the whole system. He left the ISSP to wander the solar system and work as a bounty hunter.

Personality

Jet embodies the essence of an old man… which is odd considering he’s only around 36. He mostly keeps to himself and takes care of the basic maintenance of the Bebop. When he’s not doing that, Jet generally enjoys a quiet life of taking take of bonsai trees and listening to jazz music. Jet also doubles as the Bebop’s cook… which is good, because nobody else on the crew would do it anyway. It’s not a role that was forced on Jet or anything though; he genuinely enjoys cooking anyway.

Because of his more detached role, Jet Black can come off as the gruff voice of reason. Jet’s generally the one warning Spike not to cause more of a commotion than he needs to, and then the one scolding Spike once he promptly ignores those orders. When he’s not yelling at Spike, Jet’s probably getting annoyed at Faye for mooching off them and not doing more work around the Bebop. He’s something in between a responsible older brother and the father of two disobedient high school sophomores.

But, ultimately, Jet is a softy. He could never quite abandon that kind heart of his with the ISSP. Ein sure needs him, as Jet is the only one who actively takes care of him on the crew in spite of him not wanting to keep him in the first place. Faye might have driven Jet up the wall at first, but he also can’t help but admit that Faye is at least company. Jet will frequently ban Spike from ever returning to the Bebop for not obeying orders, but that generally only lasts a few hours. He’d never admit it, but Jet probably needs the rest of the crew more than they need him.

Relationships

Spike will only ever open up to Jet. Maybe it’s due to their mutually rough pasts, maybe it’s because of Jet exudes fatherly wisdom, we’re not really sure. We just know that Spike trusts Jet implicitly with at least bits of his history. Despite their captain/subordinate relationship, the two can switch from a contentious father and son argument to acting like old drinking buddies at the drop of a hat. They are partners in the purest sense of the word.

Otherwise, Jet Black did eventually reconcile with his ex-wife Alisa. A situation with some loan sharks on Ganymede brought the two back together. Jet was always a bit over-controlling of Alisa when they were together, as his sheer talent made him believe that he always knew what was right for her. And, hey, maybe that was true, but it also made Alisa feel horribly insecure about herself. This is ultimately what caused her to leave Jet, but when they meet once again, they make peace with one another.

Impact

Spike was there to show us the struggles of how someone down on their luck could fall into a hard life. Jet, on the other hand, comes from the other side of the track. He’s someone who made something of himself as an interstellar police investigator, only to see the dark truths of society. Spike lived in the underbelly, but Jet only thought he was observing it from the outside. It’s not until he loses his arm during his last case that he comes to understand just how deeply the mafia has rooted itself within the justice system. He and Spike, in their own strange way, end up meeting in the middle somewhere; Spike realizing he needs to start working with the law while Jet distances himself from it. His history drives home the overall theme of Cowboy Bebop: as time goes on, things will remain the same.