'Cowboy Bebop' Explained: What Is the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate?

Cowboy Bebop may follow the escapades of its three plucky bounty hunters, Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), but that's not all it's about.

Yes, there's their quest to get rich quick by chasing bounties, but there's more to the world than just that because there's also a dark force at play: The Red Dragon Crime Syndicate.

The organization may well be part of the universe's seedy underbelly, but it remains firmly in the shadows, preferring to pull the strings from a safe distance.

Here is everything you need to know about Red Dragon Crime Syndicate.

What Is the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate?

As the name suggests, the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate is a criminal organization and it provides the services of hitmen across the galaxy for nefarious purposes.

The organization demands absolute loyalty and once a person is in, they are never allowed to leave it again, except in death.

As well as training assassins, in the anime the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate also creates a side business by selling Red Eye, which is a drug that enhances a person's physical abilities but makes them mad with rage as a result.

In the Netflix show it is Vicious (played by Alex Hassell) who creates the Red Eye program, for which he is then punished for creating it without permission.

Lead character Spike Spiegel (John Cho) was once a member of the group and was partners with Vicious during his time there, but he managed to escape them by faking his own death.

He attempted to escape so he could elope with Julia (Elena Satine), but his plan was found out so he had to leave her behind.

Who Runs the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate?

The Red Dragon Crime Syndicate is led by three Elders, also known as The Van, and there are Capos (or captains) who are responsible for employing and training soldiers like Spike and Vicious.

In the anime, the Elders are Wang Long, Sou Long and Ping Long and they wear Imperial Manchurian-Chinese clothing.

The live-action pays homage to the original by dressing the Elders in the same fashion, but it adds a twist by making them hide their identity by wearing face masks that look similar to the characters in the anime.

Capos of significance include Mao Yenrai, who appears in both the anime and the live-action, and Carlos, who is part of the rival White Tiger Crime Syndicate.

Netflix's Cowboy Bebop live-action is out now on Netflix, and the original anime is available on Funimation.

Cowboy Bebop live-action cast
Alex Hassell as Vicious in "Cowboy Bebop." Geoffrey Short/Netflix