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According to Wikipedia, the movie is a midquel that takes place between episodes 22 and 23 of the anime.

Having seen both the movie and the anime, I don't recall any connection that made it essential for it to be viewed in this order. I don't recall anything that had happened in the anime to be vital for the movie, and I don't remember anything that happened in the movie to be vital for episodes 23 onwards.

Am I missing something? Or does it fit between episodes 22 and 23 simply because the authors thought about it like that (maybe the authors thought about the timeline like that, although it may be irrelevant?)?

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Nothing that happens in the movie is essential to what happens in episodes 23 and 24. In fact, the movie came out over 2 years after the series was finished, so there wasn't really room to add more plot before the ending. Since the ending of Cowboy Bebop is deliberately ambiguous, there was no room for a movie after the events of episode 23 began, so putting it before episode 23 was necessary and the simplest choice is between 22 and 23.

I would argue that the placement of the movie in the chronology isn't all that important, though. Cowboy Bebop is pretty episodic for most of its run, and the stories could be reordered without seriously affecting the feel of the show. Chronological order is mostly irrelevant for the series as a whole (with a few notable exceptions). Likewise, the placement of the movie doesn't make a big difference. There are a number of places it could be placed in the chronology consistently, but putting it before episode 23 was the simplest. In fact, a few people I know watched the movie after episode 24, which obviously doesn't work chronologically, but they didn't think they missed anything by viewing it in that order.

  • I'd thought so! – JNat Dec 12 '12 at 18:17
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Episode 23 has the cancellation of the bounty hunter TV show Big Shot, even though it was featured in the movie. That's about the only thing to tie it into the continuity, it has to be sometime before episode 23, and after getting Faye, Ed, and Ein as part of the crew.

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In the film, the Big Shot bounty hunters show is still airing. In episode 23, it is cancelled.

Also, in episode 23 "Brain Scratch", we see Jobim (of the series' three reoccurring old men: Antonio, Carlos, and Jobim) dead after apparently trying and failing to get the bounty on Dr. Londes. All three are alive in the movie (and I believe one of them claims they are bounty hunters as a "half-joke").

All that to say, plus the fact that the film's soundtrack has the movie tracks labeled 22.5, it's fairly evident where the movie sits in chronology. Again, it doesn't really matter too much. As long as Edward is in the crew (so after ep. 9) and before ep. 23, it can take place anywhere.

Some theorize the film takes place after the show, as it appears Spike may or may not be dreaming the entirety of the film. But this is speculation at best.

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