The most interesting bit of any relationship is not to find the romantic undertones left in the duo’s wake but to probe deep into understanding what causes their dynamic to be so good or bad because a relationship can go both ways.
There are even more complexities within such relationships: one such being the category of frenemy trope, where both the characters act as if they are rivals but are inherently connected by a sense of responsibility and trust which traverses the friendships of those around them. Such is the relationship between Spike Spiegel and Faye Valentine.
Ever since the airing of the original Cowboy Bebop anime, much had been under speculation to understand the nature of Spike and Faye’s relationship. Debates will continue as long as fans remain enthusiastic about the anime.
Still, I will delve deeper into the relationship of the leading friendship in Cowboy Bebop and understand what makes Spike and Faye’s relationship so enticing to the fans. This is Spike and Faye’s relationship guide.
The Chance Encounter of Gadjo and Romani
Gadjo and Romani is the name they assign each other after their dramatic reunion, not that those names are uttered again in the duration of the series. Still, their brief greeting after meeting again in episode 3 just sets the pace.
Dramatic is the term that seems to go well with the nature of their relationship. Starting in the year 2071, our dashing heroine, Faye, was captured by Gordon and his men and brought to the ship where negotiations were done for her to play “Poker Alice” so as to gain the microchip from an agent, which in turn will waive off her debts.
Fast forward to when Spike enters and charms his way through the poker game against Faye. Believing him to be the agent (because of similar facial attributes), she chases him to get the microchip back and escapes.
Or so she thought. Because next moment we see her being captured by Jet and Spike, cuffing her to a bathroom chamber. A brief commercial reveals to the bounty hunters that she is the infamous Faye Valentine, who is on the run and has a bounty of 6 million Woolongs on her head.
Things turn interesting when we see the bounty hunters duo devise a plan to cash in on her and sell the valuable microchip back to its owner, Gordon. A plot twist ensues, and it turns out Gordon has been cross-checking them all along. Not so surprisingly, Faye escapes taking Gordon’s money for herself.
Undoubtedly many viewers are in awe of this chance encounter when the dramatic reunion of “Hi Gadjo” and “Hi Romani” ends up establishing the bond that is to be explored. Episode 3, “Honky Tonk Women”, is the catalyst that brings the two closer. Spike was aware all the while that Faye was conning him back at the casino, yet he decided to humor her. This proves that Spike was initially curious about her, which takes multiple turns down the friendship lane before it evolves into something more concrete.
Opposites Attract. Or Maybe Not?
Throughout the course of the anime, we come to know several interesting tidbits about this dynamic duo. The most important being how similar they are in terms of their moral beliefs and an outwardly pretentious attitude to reflect their disdain for each other.
Not so surprisingly, they also turn out to be a tsundere duo when it comes to their feelings for each other. Again, feelings do not suggest the romantic kind.
In the following episodes, we see how the relationship between the two grows. In episode 4, “Gateway Shuffle”, Faye is again properly introduced in the narrative. If the viewers thought episode 3 was her only introduction to the series, they were wrong.
After getting a distress call, she helps out a dying ISSP officer. She retrieves the vial containing Monkey Business. Initially, she was held a prisoner by the Bebop members, but soon she helped them out. Soon after, she becomes a self-invited member of Bebop. Spike seems wary, for he is not sure of the presence of an opportunist like her on board, but he relents anyway.
Following this incident, we see moments where Faye starts to develop a caring persona towards Spike, as was seen in the ending of episode 6, “Sympathy For the Devil”, as she is in a conflict and awaits Spike’s return to the ship. Or in the next episode, “Heavy Metal Queen”, where Spike asks VT if she wouldn’t mind picking Faye on the way as well.
Their relationship seems to take a leap in episode 8, “Waltz for Venus”, where we finally see the duo working together out of their own volition, and they do their task pretty efficiently. They don’t seem to be at odds anymore and naturally clear the tension in the air that they earlier seemed to have established.
While on the superficial level, it may seem that Spike does not harbor any sort of feelings for Faye, it is entirely untrue. Episode 12, “Jupiter’s Jazz: Part 1”, is when we see Faye’s insecurities kicking in as she leaves The Bebop with all the money kept in the safe. Though Jet expresses his displeasure about the entire incident, Spike remains unfazed by it. This is all done on a superficial level as we all eventually come to know such is not the case.
Although they are attracted to each other, the attraction only hovers on the platonic line. Theirs is a friendship that takes its sweet time to blossom. Since the anime is focused primarily on understanding the philosophy of bounty life and existentialism, it gives secondary importance to showing the development of several relationships in one go.
Their development is shown in small snippets. Ultimately, we are shown what the creators choose to show. The focus falls mainly on those brief interactions that become the signifier of their current friendship.
Such was the case seen in Episode 21, “Boogie Woogie Feng Shui”, when the team, minus Jet, watched the latter with another woman and made little comments on whether they were a couple. Here, we see Spike and Faye enthusiastically engage in a debate speculating the nature of Jet’s relationship with the girl by providing their opinions. This was such a fresh moment because it allowed the viewers to see Spike and Faye as fun companions.
The Possibility of Romance Remains Shattered Anyway
While the question of romance seems plausible given the fact that both of them are serving the leading male and female roles, and both of them seem to be sharing the same moral stances. The possibility of a romantic relationship is eradicated when we do a comparative study of how invested Spike is when it comes to Faye or Julia.
This is no downplaying of one particular ship over the other. This is just a mere fact. Spike and Faye are incompatible with each other as they are both incapable of having emotional stability around each other.
Their friendship started out on hostile grounds. They continued to maintain that sort of fiery, challenging friendship, as can be seen in, say, Natsu Dragneel and Gray Fullbuster’s friendship in the hit anime series Fairytail. This trope of friendship is pretty common within the anime universe, so seeing Spike and Faye maintaining one is not a surprise.
Although the relationship cannot be entirely labeled as that of a brother and sister relationship since they refuse to give each other such luxury of respect, however, their relationship tends to fit within the category where they rival each other in skill and wit, keeping each other on edge to see who can prove themself best.
Spike’s obvious pining for Julia is one among many factors which debunks any myth around Spike and Faye’s possible romance. Moreover, their own unresolved issues, whether with others or themselves, hinder any such possibility. Had they even ended up together, then that would have been achieved at the cost of a generic climax or epilogue.
“Whatever Happens, Happens”
Past is an issue for both of them, so let’s start there. Throughout the series, we have seen the brutality and abuse that Spike underwent and the atrocities he had to commit in the past through his flashbacks or nightmares, the majority of which we realize is because of his former association with the Syndicate.
His decision to leave the organization was not entirely motivated by Julia’s hopes for him to live a better life. It was his own in every sense, but the trauma prevailed.
On the other hand, we have Faye, who suffered from amnesia for a very long time. Because she was frozen cryogenically, she was left alone to make sense of the world on her own. It is not until she meets Jet and Spike that we realize what she needs most is a family or a familial sense, at the very least.
Additionally, despite her sex appeal, Faye does not engage in love/ lust games due to her general distrust of people. To see her opening up to Ed and, much later, Spike at the end of the show was a shock, yet it proves how much her character has grown overall.
Given the emotional baggage of the characters, it is highly susceptible that their romance would have ended up in a disaster. Even if Faye could have brought herself to trust Spike much earlier, it does not mean Spike would have been able to give her a stable commitment.
On top of that, there is the issue of Julia, whom he cannot just forget about. Through the course of the series, we have seen that the romantic alternative is something Spike wishes to pursue only with Julia, irrespective of the past they shared.
Keeping that in mind, it suffices to say Spike and Faye were meant to be friends and not lovers. They had too much on their own plates to care about one another.
All Is Not Well That Does Not End Well
It is these minute instances that work best as a plot device to give the fans the hope for a blossoming relationship between the two. After all, that is the most intrinsic quality of a TV series. The characters are not just limited to a plotline of two or three hours as is the case in movies.
Speaking about Spike and Faye’s relationship without talking about the series finale feels like a betrayal to oneself as well as the fandom. After everything that has happened over the course of the series, this is the juncture when Spike (spoilers ahead!) bids farewell to Jet and Faye.
After getting her memories back, Faye realizes that she gets her natural sense of belonging in The Bebop. But she returns to the ship with the intent of delivering a message to Spike from Julia. After Spike’s dramatic reunion with Julia results in her death, he comes to his crew to bid them farewell one last time.
This is the heart-wrenching moment that no one had signed up for. Both Faye and Jet are distraught by Spike’s decision. Clearly, both of them were not doing well, but Faye is more expressive to the point that she points a gun at his head, asking him not to go.
She recounts how he had once told her to not live in the past but to move forward. This suggests that maybe there had been off-screen times when both of them have had serious conversations to bond over.
But Spike steps into her personal space and reveals the truth about his eyes: how his right one is a fake and his left one only sees the past, from which he cannot escape no matter how hard he tries. Understanding the futility of her insistence, she asks him not to die, to which he replies:
“I’m not going there to die. I’m going to find out if I’m really alive.”
Depressed and grief-stricken, she breaks into a sob and fires the gun into the ceiling behind Spike’s fleeting figure. Faye, who realizes that she has had only a handful of people she can truly call her true friends, loses one to fate.
Theirs is a friendship that ends up in a tragedy, both literally and metaphorically. Their partnership develops quickly as they realize how compatible they are. Still, friendship is a path laid with thorns that they both learn to navigate together.
But it is too soon for a friendship to come to an end that has just realized its importance. To Faye, Spike and Jet were her family and she could only survive by moving forward, but Spike could not do that to himself, as the person who gave him the strength to continue forward is no more. Thus, the result is the death of a friendship.
Spike and Faye Relationship Guide: FAQs
Question: Was Spike bitter towards Faye because she reminded him of Julia?
Answer: As a matter of fact, yes. In the entirety of the series, we have seen several similarities between these two characters, which were shown to us in a very subtle manner. Moreover, they were perceived to be the same person (the bartender’s recount of Faye in “Jupiter Jazz: Part 1”).
In addition to that, Spike’s harsh treatment of Faye was because she reminded him too much of Julia. In fact, Faye’s position is always contrasted with that of Julia as both end up being Spike’s unassigned caregivers. Faye not only becomes the symbol of what he lost romantically but also the harsh reality of his separation from Julia.
Question: What makes Spike and Faye’s dynamic so good?
Answer: The dynamic of Spike and Faye’s friendship is not only marked by how well they deliver their blows or witty comments but how they see each other as a person. Often seen to have a childish rivalry, they both learn to understand and acknowledge each other’s strengths and weaknesses over time. While The Bebop brought them together, it was the quirks that they both had to fix to make their relationship so enjoyable.
Question: Is the Netflix anime adaptation of Cowboy Bebop any good?
Answer: Cowboy Bebop is considered by many to be one of the best anime ever produced. So, people had high hopes from the live adaptation of the series by Netflix. But there is a reason why “the manga, the anime, the Netflix adaption” meme exists. The Cowboy Bebop adaptation only proves the meme true.