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Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
  |     review    |     notes     |     availability     |    


Spike Spiegel struts his stuff in Cowboy Bebop: The Movie.
  Japanese: Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira
  AKA: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Year: 2001  
  Director: Shinichirô Watanabe, Hiroyuki Okiura (uncredited)
  Producer: Haruyo Kanesaku, Masahiko Minami, Minoru Takanashi, Ryohei Tsunoda, Masuo Ueda, Takayuki Yoshii
  Voices: Kôichi Yamadera, Unshô Ishizuka, Megumi Hayashibara, Aoi Tada, Tsutomu Isobe
  The Skinny: The Bebop crew leaps to the big screen with a theatrical encore worthy of the critically acclaimed television series that spawned it.
Review by Calvin McMillin:      With its sleek animation style, action-packed plots, and head-bopping soundtrack, Cowboy Bebop arguably ranks as one of the greatest television shows ever made—anime or not. For most, series' protagonist Spike Spiegel serves as Bebop's primary drawing point. Whether it be his Philip Marlowe-worthy hardboiled cool, his Bruce Lee-inspired Jeet Kune Do skills, or his mysteriously tragic backstory, Spike Spiegel never fails to intrigue. But Cowboy Bebop isn't a one-man show; Spike's supporting cast is far from lacking. His pals are a ragtag bunch to say the least: there's elder statesman Jet Black, femme fatale/gambling addict Faye Valentine, idiot girl genius Ed, and their trusty data dog Ein. Together these bounty hunters cruised the galaxy for 26 episodes before ending their heralded run on a poetic, but decidedly final note. While many great television series plod on for years until they've all but lost the magic that hooked viewers in the first place, the Bebop creators got out long before then, leaving their fans wanting more. And more they got.
     The plot of Cowboy Bebop: The Movie isn't much of a departure from the action-packed, yet often philosophical storylines of the TV show. In the film, a simple bounty suddenly turns into a deadly game of bio-terrorism as Spike and company try to stop the sinister-looking Vincent Volaju from committing mass genocide on Halloween night. To tell any more of the plot would simply take away from part of the joy of the Cowboy Bebop experience itself: the unfolding of the narrative. And like the best of the TV episodes, the film unfolds with definite panache. The filmmakers wisely opted not to pick up where the show left off, and instead set the film between episodes 22 and 23 of the series. For longtime fans, the film provides a few in-joke worthy treats, and also helps clarify the seeming death wish that Spike Spiegel possessed in the final episodes. The new characters of Vincent and his former lover Electra are infinitely intriguing and nicely drawn on both a visual and conceptual level. As she did with the series, Yoko Kanno provides yet another jazzy, techno-infused score that propels the film forward.
     Those unfamiliar with the television show might be lost, but also no less impressed, perhaps finding themselves caught up in a stylish world that feels at once retro, contemporary, and futuristic. Even for these novice viewers, the film would still serve as a fitting introduction to the merits of this wildly popular anime. No matter what your familiarity level may be, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie delivers one heck of a ride. (Calvin McMillin, 2003)
Notes:

The American voice actors from Bandai's Cowboy Bebop English-language release reprise their roles on the English dubbed track.
Reportedly, the film was not released under its original title due to copyright conflicts with the Bob Dylan tune of the same name. However, it is equally plausible that the American studio simply wanted the title shortened for mass consumption.

Availability: DVD (USA)
Region 1 NTSC
Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video
16x9 Anamoprphic Widescreen
Japanese and English Language Tracks
Dolby Digital 5.1
English and French Subtitles
Six featurettes, Character profiles, Music videos, Conceptual art galleries, Storyboard comparisons, In-depth character profiles, Trailers
 

image courtesy of Columbia/Tri-Star Home Video

   
 
 
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