So I decided to write a little bit on that question many of us get in our heads around how Julia knew who Faye was at the end of Cowboy Bebop because recently someone was wondering over about how she ran away but was still able to keep a tab on the Bebop crew somehow and I realised that most of us don’t actually know that there is an official ‘canon’ explanation for this because, for a change, this is one scene which is explained even though very little in Bebop really is otherwise. It’s not a great explanation but it’s there so let’s have a look at it. If you don’t actively engage in the community which still exists around this series, my analyses may feel like an overkill so perhaps best to avoid reading them.
In a story so sparse, little details can really change how we see a character and what we understand of the story. We don’t actually need this or any other explanations to enjoy it either but I’m writing this because I got asked about it a couple of times too and in case anyone reading the CB articles might want to know. In the official explanation, Julia is not an all-powerful character adept enough to keep tab on the crew on her own. She’s unfortunately more of a helpless martyr there than anything else really which is also why she is such a fascinating character for me because, despite being largely absent for most of the story, how you see her decides how you see the rest of the monomyth. I did cover this briefly in my alternate take on the finale but that may not be everyone’s cup of tea so here goes.
Quick note: This article is a part of my Reanalysing Cowboy Bebop series which is some 30+ articles on the show and has an established reader base. If you are a new reader, this can be read standalone too but you can see the main page of the series for more context on it.
I am talking here about the version which is mentioned in the anime guides of Cowboy Bebop published by Tokyopop for Sunrise and I suppose is the only “official version” of the story available to us since its creators never really talked about it much and when they did it was mostly confusing answers (for a change I’m actually agreeing with that CB stan who goes around beating everyone in the creator community over their heads with his own opinion). Now, I have mentioned enough times how ridiculous I think the Cowboy Bebop anime guides can be sometimes because whoever wrote them seems lost and they don’t offer much beyond what you can see on screen but this scenario is an exception where the guide does offer an explanation. The guides are based on interviews from the creative team so anyone writing about this series does need to familiarise themselves with this content, and hence I ended up reading them, even though I feel the creators may not have given too many explanations in those interviews either. I’m also thinking of occasionally doing something like Cowboy Bebop “short takes” for stuff like this which I don’t feel requires a long analysis in case anyone wants to read them.
Anyway, as per our revered Guides (which, if you are part of the general CB creative community, you will know that our resident stan also believes to be equivalent to the Holy Bible) Shin had gotten super salty with Vicious over Lin’s death so he decided to seek out Julia and become her informant. This is the reason why at the beginning of Session 25 Julia walks into her apartment and gets a message from Shin because he has been informing her about Vicious’ plans lately. Julia apparently had no clue where Spike was till the events of Jupiter Jazz and was just running around trying to stay ahead of the Syndicate. Post Lin’s death is when Shin starts his efforts. How Shin tracked down Julia, someone whom neither Vicious nor Spike could find, is not explained. How Shin figured out not just where Spike was but also who his companions were is also not explained. Anyway, below are the two places the guides talk about this.
I guess one can assume that he may have gotten to know about that second bit when Vicious targeted the Bebop and Faye, during the events of Ballad of Fallen Angels. Sounds weird to me because Vicious did not exactly trust Lin or Shin so would be strange for him to have either of them part of his super-secret entourage which kidnapped Faye in the Opera House or attacked Spike in the church but whatever. By the way, when you really look at Ballad of Fallen Angels it’s crazy the level of planning Vicious is actually shown to have done. I’m self-plugging that here because I loved breaking down that episode and found a bunch of new things when I watched it frame by frame including a better perspective on Vicious’ coup so read it if it may interest you.
Anyway, so this is the official explanation. My view? If we go by this, Spike and Vicious should’ve given up everything and enrolled under Shin to learn his art of tracking people down. Compared to him, they both sucked. This was sort of why I completely ditched the anime guides’ “canon” version and went the alternate take route that Julia was up to no good. Anyway, we can always ditch the guide’s explanation and also just believe she was magically tracking the crew through some non-Shin way all along too (or through Vicious if you believe me but you don’t have to-many days I don’t either). Go with the headcanon which makes most sense to you. Peace. As always, don’t fight me. It’s not even my favourite anime. It just has some weird grip on me where I keep feeling the need to dissect it.