Cowboy Bebop: The Movie



Since some of you, including my friend Émilie, had recommended this one, and since it ranks among the Top 30 Japanese Animated Features, I decided to give it a shot when I saw it at the video store. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is fairly easy to find, so there's no need to settle for a lesser quality version on the internet.

It's a fun and entertaining romp, but this movie is nowhere near the quality of the previous titles I reviewed. It looks as though it's more aimed at an adolescent crowd. Nothing wrong with that, of course, yet I'm looking for movies with a bit more substance.

The action takes place on Mars in the fall of 2071. A mysterious man blows up a tanker truck which releases a deadly virus into the air that kills thousands of innocent victims. Fearing an even more devastating biochemical attack, an astronomical reward is offered by the government for the arrest of the terrorist. Strapped for cash, Spike Spiegel and his crew of bounty hunters take on the case. But when everything starts to go wrong, they realize that they might just be in too deep.

The movie is based on the popular Cowboy Bebop television series, but those unfamiliar with the TV show can watch and enjoy it without missing a beat. Being familiar with the anime series likely makes for a better overall experience, as one has a better feel for the events and the characters. But nowhere during the flick did I feel lost and confused.

As I said, the target audience appears to be the manga-loving adolescent crowd. Expect an action-packed affair, with plenty of violence and one-liners and jokes. Still, the main story arc is probably a bit more complex than what it appears to be at face value, but the execution relies on action, action, and yet more action.

The interaction between the disparate group of bounty hunters reminded me of the bantering in Firefly/Serenity. Too bad Faye Valentine had to be every nerd's fantasy. This sexy vixen is probably the most interesting character of the bunch. But a hardened bounty hunter dressed as a stripper is a bit odd.

The pace is good, and there's not a dull moment. But you have to be in the mood for something in which action sometimes supercede the need to make sense. The blend of different musical styles was cool, if unexpected.

Overall, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is an entertaining ride. I might give the television series a shot at some point. . .

Here's the trailer:





For more info about this title: Canada, USA, Europe

51 commentaires:

Eric said...

I liked that movie as well, but thought the TV series was better. The series consists of a individual stories in each of the episodes, but the series as a whole has an over-arching story. I agree the story does lean towards the action side, especial in contrast to some of the other movies you've been watching lately.

I saw the series first and I thought the movie kind of had a "tacked on" feel to it as it actually takes place during the timeline of the TV series.

Since you enjoyed the movie, I'd definitely give the series a try. I think you might like it a little more than the movie.

I appreciate the other movie reviews you've been doing too. I've seen some of them already and have added some of the others to my Netflix queue based on your reviews.

Roland said...

Erm, the movie is just a longer and more expensive episode, and one set near the end of the show. The tv series is the greatest, most profound, deepest and multilayered anime (as well as work of art in general) ever created, so you should've seen it it first. Or at least see it right away and then see the movie again. It's a totally different experience when put into context (emotionally, not storywize).

nette said...

The movie does not even begin to do the series justice. I've never recommended it, whereas I will practically tie people down to get them to watch the series!

Anonymous said...

"The movie is based on the popular Cowboy Bebop television series, but those unfamiliar with the TV show can watch and enjoy it without missing a beat."

I disagree.

TJ said...

I'm afraid I have to join the consensus: the movie without the series is nothing. The series, however, is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, I'd take that top 30 list with a pinch of salt. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is no. 1, and whilst being an enjoyable film, I would personally rank it below most of the films already watched by Pat.
Good to see Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers is on the list though. :)

Ramah.

Renai LeMay said...

Just saying what has already been said; but Pat, check out the TV series of Bebop; the movie is not really meant to be viewed as a stand-alone event, I would argue.

The TV series is considered one of the best anime works ever ... I cried several times when watching it. It's a landmark in the genre. So nostalgic, it really evokes Japan perfectly.

Enjoying the anime reviews!

Gabe said...

I have to agree with everyone else. The series is far better than the movie. For one thing the movie is missing the amazing soundtrack that each episode of the series had (which was a big part of the series' appeal). The only thing the movie does better (maybe) is the action sequences.

Blend said...

I'm not a crazy anime geek or anything, but I can say that Cowboy Bebop is probably one of my favourite of all the animes I've ever watched. The characters are gold, specially Edward! It's way funny, and way fun! Like Eric, up above, however, I have to say that the TV series WAS much better.

Patrick said...

Ah, fuck you, guys!:P

Enticing me to watch the TV series and putting it in a way that makes it well nigh impossible for me not to give it a shot! If you keep me busy watching anime, when do you reckon I'll find the time to read SFF books!?!

Isn't it why you're here, anyway!?!;-)

Juhan said...

Come on! To say that Cowboy Bebop is for teenagers is nonsense. Pat, no disrespect to you or anything, but you're talking crap here. You can't judge Cowboy Bebop based on the movie. Really. The movie is just a few mediocre episodes crammed into 1,5 hours with the overall story arc virtually untouched. So if you want to know what all the hype is about, watch the series. And oh, another thing - you probably watched this in English too, right? Correct me if I'm wrong. But with anime, especially with this series, you HAVE to see it with the original Japanese audio to fully understand and appreciate it. Honestly. The English voice actors... just fail.

Anonymous said...

Pat

Anime generally IS tv-series

TempestBrewer said...

The movie doesn't really work if you haven't seen the show. I would definitely recommend going back and watching the show and then seeing what you think.

I'm really psyched that you've been watching all this anime and enjoying it!

Melissa (My World) said...

My brother has given me and my son about 4 dvds to watch of Cowboy Bebop. I am guessing they are of the series. But we have not had the opportunity to watch them.

I will have to put them in and watch them. They may very well be geared to the younger crowd. I wouldn't think my brother would give them to me if they were for an older crew. (I would hope so.)

Christopher Florence said...

Cowboy Bebop was an EXCELLENT show, don't let the movie fool you! It has one of the best series finales I've ever seen (if not THE best).

Roland said...

Pat, I dunno about SFF books, but have you noticed that your anime-posts generate twice the number of comments of any other topic? ;)

Mobius said...

Pat! Why did you have to watch the movie version of Cowboy Bebop? It totally shows that you're just a newbie. :P

Don't put too much trust on those top 30 lists. Honestly, it's the equivalent of the New York Times Bestseller list, it has more to do with popularity than quality. You have to dig deep to really find the great ones. For this, a neat place to visit is the Star Crossed Anime Blog.


Pat. There's a lot of 11 - 25 episode anime series out there. You're not really getting the feel of the anime scene if you're just sticking with the movies. If you haven't seen Death Note or Hikaru no Go, watch them now! ;)

Anonymous said...

Do you have any interest in Manga? Seeing as how much of Anime actually starts out as Manga. And in some cases the Manga is worlds apart as far as scope, storytelling, and just overall quality. Akira being one.

Anonymous said...

When do we get the review of La Blue Girl?

Anonymous said...

Seriously, the movie is mediocre and the TV show is the best ever. It's a damn shame no one told you that up front. Now you just have to go watch the show.

Britain said...

I believe the movie is set between episodes 22 and 23...or is it 23 and 24...either way like Roland said it's just an extra long episode. It's a great movie, but put into episode terms, it's weaker than many of the episodes because you don't get any of the stuff that involves Vicious or Julia which is just awesome. Give the whole series a shot if you liked the movie.

Anonymous said...

I agree with everyone. The movie is in every respect just flattened out episode. Even the music is worse.

The other series by the same director (though different writers, artists...) is Samurai Champloo. It's on the same quality level, but tyou might say it comes with the realization that the director is always doing a similar thing.

Another very good series (by some of the same writers, composer, artists at least) is Wolf's Rain. About a pack of wolfs (though most of the time walking around in human form because humans and wolfs are kind of linked in the mythology) searching for "paradise" in the bleak tundra and ruins of a dystopian future.

I would recommend Jin-Roh, a rather old-fashioned but very tragic and emotional political-action-thriller/love-story. It was recommended already by someone else.

Shirow66 said...

To call the Cowboy Bebop series "the greatest, most profound, deepest and multilayered anime (as well as work of art in general) ever created" as Roland did makes me wonder if we watched the same show.
Don't get me wrong, Bebop is great and one of my favorite shows, but I wouldn't come close to calling it any of those things you mention. It's just a high quality production action/comedy sci-fi show with very few weaknesses.
The greatest, most profound, deepest and multi layered anime ever created is surely debatable, but I would say Evangelion would be hard to match in that department.

Roland said...

Don't agree. Evangelion is a good show, but WAY overhyped. In therms of characterization many people mistake the huge quantity of mental disorders with depth, which it isn't. Also, there is no progression, no development in any direction. ALSO, the show practically has no plot.

And anyway, everyone is entitled to their opinion. You'll find that MANY people will agree with my description of Bebop. And I haven't even mention THE best soundtrack in anime industry and the best voice acting in anime.

Anonymous said...

Plot is not so important in some cases. Nor is bland emotion. Just setting a unique mood in good style (I like Hideaki Anno's style, at least more than the next mecha-anime-director's) and an audacious concept can be easily as good as the next water-proof plot entertainment. Just saying, I haven't made a 1:1 comparison of the two yet, nor am sure if it would interest me.
And that's not to say that many moments in NGE are indeed nearly unbearable...

Jebus said...

Can't believe Paprika is in that list, that film was a steaming pile of shite.

Anonymous said...

Juhan seems like one of those who blindy says all english dubs are crap. If there is one anime that has a great english voice cast it's Cowboy Bebop.

Roland said...

Which is totally whatever, since its Japanese is a piece of art and NO translation could do it justice.

Btw, I would never compare CB to NGE. They're incomparable. Which doesn't preclude me from saying that CB IS the single best work of anime ever made. And I bow before the genius of Ghost in the Shell and Akira, mind you. I'm not a fanboy.

Roland said...

Sorry for the double post, just wanted to mention that Cowboy Bebop is NOT my favorite anime. Just to confuse you guys ^_^

nette said...

I kind of agree with Juhan. I wouldn't say that all English dubs are crap, but I find most of the time without the Japanese intonation you lose a lot of the emotion... and humour. Pat please don't watch Cowboy Bebop in English. No one can say 'Spike' the way Jet does in Japanese!

Actually, I guess I just assumed you've been watching all of these in the original Japanese...

Chris M said...

Roland, what would you recommend as being good soundtracks?

GITS is one my top fav series, though I never did like Motoko.

k3s3ra said...

Have to agree with the crowd, the movie is not as interesting without watching the series, which is too cool, melancholy, and really satisfying. The ending still gives me goosebumps.

Also definitely have to recommend Samurai X: Trust & Betrayal. A serious OVA version of the Samurai X/Rurouni Kenshin shounen series (targeted at kids/YA). That one really blem my mind and showed how real and gritty anime could make things look.

Roland said...

Chris, obviously the Bebop ones are amazing, one and all. I think everything done by Yoko Kano is great - apart from Bebop, that would include Wolf's Rain, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and a lot of other stuff. She has the greatest emotional, instrumental and thematical range of all other composers in the field.

I'd also recommend the RahXephon OST, but I'm not sure how Michiko Hashimoto's music would work if you haven't seen the show or didn't like it.

Yuki Kajiura has great OSTs, although they are kind of repetitive - if you've heard any two, you more or less know what to expect. Her best is the .hack://SIGN, I think, although she has some other great ones.

Fullmetal Alchemist's music is also great, as is Fafner's and Code Geass'.

But like any ost (apart from Yoko Kano's), this is music best appreciated in context with the show it is made for...

queen.morrigan said...

Evangelion is pretentious drivel for pseudo-intellectual emo teenagers. Pat, avoid that series like the plague, but DO watch the Cowboy Bebop series, it's definitely worth it.

Anonymous said...

Ditto to the guy that recommended the Rurouni Kenshin OAV: Trust and Betrayal. 4 episodes of anime awesomeness. I think it can be enjoyed with or without watching the series. Its basically a coming of age story of a boy in a time of war. A tremendously great prequel that just smokes the anime series out of the water. Can be viewed even without seeing an episode of the series.

Michael said...

People who even remotely like Cowboy Bebop should watch Baccano!. 16 episodes of awesome goodness.

The Rorouni Kenshin: OAV is definitely worth the watch.

Chris M said...

Cheers Roland, I'll be sure to check those out, particularly RahXephon as I just watched that the other day. I like Yoko Kanno - I have the gits and escaflowne ost's, both of which are great.

Anonymous said...

What do you guys say about the Yoko Kanno controversy of her having "stolen" other music? At first I didn't believe it, but then I heard "Cloud 9" from Wolf's Rain was an EXACT reproduction, with very minor changes, of an obsucre french song of which I've forgotten the name.

I'm not so upset as the regular ranter is, since she's still a great composer with pieces of equal or greater quality than those that sound plagiarized, but what do you think, if you've heard of it?

Anonymous said...

And I think it's pathetic how "emo" is used as a knock-out argument, as if anything angsty and emotional was of the same quality and profundity. Same goes for "pretentious".

Roland said...

Eva IS pretentious though. And its depth is severely hampered by the complete lack of development of the problems presented. It's an endless cycle of repetition...

Anonymous said...

In any case, "pretentiousness" is not automatically a severe flaw or a definite qualitative statement against a work, but can be just another way of presenting a feature, and the instinctive reactions against this "pretentiousness" are often overreactions and sometimes come off as small-mindedness to others who didn't care because they were paying more attention to other layers or elements than to one such characteristic.

Ryan said...

The movie is *nothing* compared to the series. Cowboy Bebop the series is one of the best 26-episode anime series I've seen. I have a bunch of friends who are all quick to mock my past love of anime, but they all appreciate Cowboy Bebop (at least the of those I've made sit down and watch it).

Roland said...

In my vocabulary "pretentious" is always bad though. There are other ways to say the same thing in a positive context...

Anonymous said...

That remains to be found out individually. And in many cases it's still an overreaction. Ghost in the Shell is pretentious. That doesn't stop it to be one of the movies in its genre.

Anonymous said...

"best movies" of course, silly me.

Roland said...

Uh, GitS is anything but pretentious. It's way too deep to waste time on pretentions. But as I said, it's all about semanthics.

Anonymous said...

Pretentious is about feelings and immersion. That's why I'm not talking about substance. Substance is disregarded in "pretentiousness". There can be little substance and it is not pretentious (thinking of country music), and there can be quite a bit substance and it can be pretentious.

That's why I don't take this criticism very serious per see, unless it's in conjunction with structual, conceptual flaws, or just downright low quality.

On another note: you said that the mental disorders in NGE are often mistaken for depth. Well, they might not be depth, but the complexity and skilled depiction of the characters is, and things like that can be acknowledged. This quality is the simple origin of any praise of the show, among many other very solid, partly original aspects. Not so much that the director is suddenly turning the attention from the story to the viewer or whatever.

Roland said...

I told you what my problem is with the characters' issues. They don't go anywhere. No development, just repetition. And if this is the way it sometimes is in real life, in art you just can't afford to do it. Because 26 episodes of the same are overkill. Hell, !3! episodes of the same are overkill. If you have a flawed character, you have to make it go somewhere. If ALL your characters are flawed, well then ALL of them have to go somewhere. It might not be up, but there should be a direction. When there is no direction, the whole exercise is pointless...

Anonymous said...

From Patrick Rothfuss, author of THE NAME OF THE WIND:

"Everyone in their right mind is a fan of Cowboy Bebop."

So there you have it. It IS good.

kingofNYCT@gmail.com said...

I don't find NGE to be pretentious at all. I find people who call it pretentious or pseudo-intellectual either completely miss obvious points or they don't understand art. "If you have a flawed character, you have to make it go somewhere." I could not disagree more. Most likely you've never been sick or never known someone who is sick. Characters in real life that have unresolved issues or are sick, are in fact repetitive. How many people in real life evolve out of their problems? How many of them are haunted for years of their life by burdens of their childhood. This is what makes NGE so entirely accurate. People with deep emotional problems almost spend years trying to resolve them and it is the central theme of their existence. Some people never recover. A world of misery is what they carry with them. In regards to this series being "pseudo-intellectual" I think that's rediculous. You obviously don't understand what pretentious means. Pretentious means talking about something intellectual trying to make it seem like you know something for no reason other than trying to look smart. NGE is a very naive work, complex and focused, and far from pretentious. You are failing to make this extremely obvious distinction. What you see as over-intectualizing others see as deep thinking and trying to understand the world, then conveying it in a film. And what if in fact this is Annos way to make sense of everything? Then you are calling someones personal thoughts pretentious. And someones deep personal thoughts are never prentious since they're personal. How you can not see this is mind boggling.

kingofNYCT@gmail.com said...

NGE intellectualizes in a complex fashion and tries to make sense of the world in a very honest way. Anno is a pure introverted intellectual who has been exposed to these philosophical writings in his personal life. It is not difficult to understand that all of the existentialism in the movie is a recanting of his own life experience when trying to make sense of a dark world of depression and psychosis. How people miss something so obvious I don't get. Remember art reflects life? Now you may not appreciate a film that is overloaded with philosophical analysis but that doesn't mean its pretentious. The fusion of philosophy and anime and mental exploration thereof was never done before, that alone is enough reason to celebrate it as refreshing, interesting, and masterwork. Using your artwork to make sense of the world and explore things intellectually is NOT pretentious. Maybe you can't appreciate the enjoyment of philosophical analysis? Some people might enjoy this. But for Anno it is obvious he is simply trying to make sense of the world. My guess is people label it pretentious because they miss the point that this movie is just an expression of personal experience and an exploration of their soul through metaphysics. Hemingway's works were no different: character authenticity and writing to reflect your life experience. For this reason alone the series is unique and brilliant because it is inspired by experience.