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I love the kind of woman that can kick my ass.
~ Spike Spiegel

Spike Spiegel is the main protagonist of the anime series Cowboy Bebop. He is a bounty hunter or "cowboy" (as he's referred to on several occasions) on a spaceship called the Bebop and travels through the space with his crew consisting of his old friend, Jet, and recent members, FayeEd, and Ein.

He is voiced by Koichi Yamadera in the Japanese version and Steven Blum in the English version, the former of whom also voiced Jubei Kibagami and Kain Highwind.

Appearance

Spike is 27 years-old and tall and thin in appearance. He has fluffy dark-green hair and reddish-brown eyes, one real and one artificial. A flashback in Session 6 revealed that his fully functioning right eye was surgically replaced by a cybernetic one (although Spike himself may not have conscious recollection of the procedure since he claims to have lost his natural eye in an "accident"). He is usually dressed in a blue leisure suit, with a yellow shirt and Lupin III inspired boots. He has his brown hair in an afro. His outfit consists of an all-blue suit and trousers with a yellow shirt underneath.

Personality

Vicious: You should see yourself. Do you have any idea what you look like right at this moment Spike?
Spike: What?
Vicious: A ravenous beast. The same blood runs through both of us, the blood of a beast that wanders, hunting for the blood of others.
Spike: I've bled all that kind of blood away.
Vicious: Then why are you STILL ALIVE?!
~ Spike and Vicious talk about their similarities
Spike is a slothful, listless, indifferent, and lazy person. He passes the vast majority of his time on the Bebop lounging, watching TV, or sleeping. In a few rare occasions, he is also seen reading or practising Jeet Kune Do, a martial arts practice he is very skilled in, being among other things passionate of Bruce Lee films. He is also a heavy smoker, being shown with a cigarette in his mouth in practically every shot. Spike is rarely seen excited about something and, even less frequently, says he likes something. However, there are exceptions; in the movie, he becomes very excited when fighting Elektra, saying he loves the kind of woman who can kick his ass.

He usually behaves phlegmatically and walks slouching almost as if he is sleepwalking. He appears to be tormented by the ghosts of his past and has frequent nightmares of his life in the Red Dragon. He considers he already died once therefore doesn't show the slightest fear of the possibility of being killed, often acts as if to challenge death, so to prove he is still alive. However in a conversation with Faye, he admits to not want to die because of "the hate to."

One of the recurring themes surrounding Spike's character is how he views himself and his life. Following the implant of an artificial eye, he says his left eye, the real one, sees the present while the right synthetic one sees the past, making the past indelible in his mind, not allowing him to get rid of or forget it. Despite that, he usually encourages others to forget the past as "not important", particularly Faye, who has amnesia for the majority of the series. Spike's star sign is Cancer, which fits with his inability to let go of the past.

When he is not working, Spike is very laid back, sarcastic, and lively to the dismay of his crew mates. He is typically found either resting on the couch or reading magazines. Spike's philosophy seems to be based on the ancient samurai ideals of immediacy, such as considering oneself as dead and the idea of death as being an awakening from a dream, which are both elements of bushido illustrated in the Hagakure. His pet hates are children, pets, and women with attitudes. Ironically, all the members of the Bebop besides himself and Jet, (Ed, Ein and Faye, respectively) fall into these categories, as discussed in session 9.

Although people often talk about cowboys in an almost heroic sense, his image is far from the idea of one and, on the contrary, has characteristics typical of an antihero. He never acts to protect anyone but only for interest, often has to be persuaded to commit himself to a hunt he doesn't consider worth his time, has a rather sharp and cynical sense of humour and when he pursues a bounty, he often throws himself headfirst into action regardless of damage caused to people and buildings. Finally, he doesn't have the slightest moral scruples of having to kill someone. In the movie, he even tells an old woman that he and the Bebop crew don't serve and protect and that their work is strictly business, though Jet doubts that he actually means that.

In spite of all this, Spike still has a good heart and, whether he admits it or not, is more than willing to help out others without expecting something in return, which is rather ironic considering his line of work. A good example of this is in session 7, when Victoria Terpsichore offered him a wad of cash, and he only took a single note while saying the rest was for her husband. He treats Ein as kind of emergency food and Ed as a burden, but in reality, despite never telling his companions a word of appreciation, Spike nurtures an obvious affection for each of them and often seems willing to help them. This affection is shown through his constant choice to not interfere as they face their past, even if meaning he has to pass up a bounty. In particular, he shares a genuine brotherly affection with Jet, and it is safe to say that they consider each other their best friend. In fact, they are often seen talking together like two old friends. Although they often fight because of the excessive stubbornness of Spike, occasionally resulting in him being banned from Bebop, these arguments are always resolved in short time. Jet is also the only person Spike confides about his past.

Spike's most complex relationship in the series is the one he has with Faye. Most of the time they do nothing but bicker however, in moments of danger, Faye has always shown concern for Spike, and Spike has shown some empathy for Faye's situation. Faye has also always taken care of Spike when he was injured, although she still kept a bitter attitude. The affection between them is quite obvious, and many people have speculated that Faye could be in love with Spike. Watanabe has said on the subject, "Sometimes I'm asked the question, 'What does Spike think of Faye?' I think that he likes her quite a bit. But he's not a very straightforward person and makes sure not to show it."

Skills & Abilities

Spike has many talents and abilities, including very sharp eyesight, abnormally acute perception, and extraordinary luck. Spike makes use of sleight-of-hand techniques to win card games, pick pockets, and even to slip things onto other people unnoticed. He is well versed in weaponry (such as his personal Jericho 941, or Ruger P85 as well as other guns and explosives) and hand-to-hand combat skills due to his past employment with the Red Dragon crime syndicate. He follows Jeet Kune Do, the mindset developed by Bruce Lee, though he has a penchant for high kicks of French boxing. Spike is also a pilot, and flies a converted Asteroid racer called Swordfish II which is armed with four machine guns, multiple missile launchers, and a single plasma cannon. Spike also repeatedly demonstrates an exceptionally sharp intellect, although he has a habit for neglecting to plan ahead, as noted by Jet. Spike has repeatedly been able to outwit the entire Red Dragon syndicate, predict the moves of his opponents (whether in combat or in the casinos), and use lateral thinking to get out of virtually every situation which life throws at him. He can also swallow and regurgitate objects e.g. a chip (casino chip) at will.  

History

Bang.
~ Spike Spiegel
Spike was a rising member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate, when he worked with his then partner, Vicious. Both were mentored by Mao Yenrai. Badly injured after a shoot-out in the slums on Mars, Spike stumbled to Julia's home, who at that time was Vicious' girlfriend. The pair fell in love while she nursed him back to health. Spike decided to leave the syndicate with Julia. Vicious informed Julia that he will kill Spike, or Spike and Julia would both face death for her betrayal. Spike apparently managed to fake his own death by engaging in a gunfight alone in a church against unidentified opponents, which allowed Red Dragon to forget about him. He waited for Julia so they could escape and be free, but she never arrived.

Some time after his faked death, Spike met the former ISSP cop turned bounty hunter Jet Black, and became partners. Spike moved onto Jet's ship, the Bebop, and the two men worked together for three years before the other crew members joined.

Throughout the series hints and flashbacks of Spike's past are revealed. He comes face to face wiith Vicious once more in the fifth episode, when Vicious lures Spike out of hiding by assassinating Mao Yenrai and kidnapping Faye. They duel each other, but survive the encounter. They meet a second time on Callisto during a botched drug transaction, but Vicious manages to escape.

In the final episode, Spike and Juila reunite and continue their plans to escape the Red Dragons. They fight their way out, but juila is shot and killed. Spike returns to the Bebop for a meal with Jet, and the two share a moment of understanding as Spike relates his life's situation to his partner. As he leaves to settle the score with Vicious, he is confronted by Faye. He tells Faye the story behind his cybernetic eye and the effect it had on his outlook on life. Faye asks why Spike is leaving to throw away his life. Spike answers that he isn't leaving to die, but rather to see if he really is alive. He then departs to confront the past he abandoned three years before. He storms the Red Dragon headquarters, killing many of the members, and then he and Vicious confront each other.

After a brief clash, Spike and Vicious exchange blows simultaneously, and Vicious dies. Spike recalls Juila's final words to him, It's all ... a dream ..." before descending the staircase, where he is confronted by the remainder of the Red Dragons. Mimicking a gun with his fingers, Spike utters a final word, "Bang", smiles, and collapses.

Spike's fate at the end of the series is left open-ended. It is implied that Spike may have died from wounds sustained in his final duel with Vicious and the Red Dragons (the collapse, the fading star, the angelic choir). However, in an interview, Watanabe stated, "I've never officially said that he died. At this point, I can tell you that I'm not sure if he's alive or dead." He also stated that he believes fans would be upset if there was a continuation.

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