Blu Ray Review: Cowboy Bebop The Movie

Cowboy Bebop The Movie

A.K.A. Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door

Image Entertainment





The spaceship Bebop is crewed by Spike, Jet, Faye, and Ed.  Spike and Jet are partners, with Spike being a natural loner, and Jet being the fatherly mentor.  Faye is out for herself, but recognizes the benefit and security of hanging out with the others.  Ed is a young girl computer hacker who see’s the whole thing as a game.  They’re all bounty hunters, scraping by.

The Bebop is on Mars near Halloween when a terrorist strikes, releasing a deadly virus.  The Mars government offers the biggest bounty in history to catch him, and Spike and company set off to claim it.

Cowboy Bebop is not a case of style over substance, it is instead the full integration of style into substance.  The look and sound of the franchise inform the characterizations and stories leading to a full and complete whole.

The music (all done by super-composer Yoko Kanno) plays an integral part in this process, and sets the overall tone.  One of the best things about the TV series was its variety.  Jazz, heavy metal, rap, rock, opera; all lead the stories into different directions; from comedy, to horror, to romance.

Cowboy Bebop The Movie reins in the creativity to a large extent.  While it plays like a singe episode of the series, it takes the most vanilla approach to it.  It’s like they looked over the whole series, and picked the most average elements.  So we have one genre of music, classic rock, with an action movie laid on top of it.

While it’s not the best that Bebop has to offer, it’s still good in and of itself, and sufficiently stylish to set it apart from most other anime titles.

The protagonists of Cowboy Bebop all have beautiful character arcs in the TV series.  In essence, the show is about people’s pasts coming back to bite them in the ass.  We don’t see any of that with the main characters here.  The movie is an isolated moment where we don’t learn anything new about them, or see any real depth.

The new characters, the terrorist Vincent, and security agent Electra do have something of an arc, but it’s limited by their sparse screen time, and the fact that Vincent is portrayed as deranged; but it is reminiscent of the themes of the series, and is more than enough to drive the plot.

Cowboy Bebop The Movie is not the best episode of the series; but judged on its own merits, it’s a solid and stylish action movie.

The Blu Ray:  This is a lazy, but watchable presentation of the film from Image Entertainment.  The video is fairly good.  The credits are left in Japanese at the end, though the title screen is changed to take out ‘Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door,’ which is sad, as the title fits really well with the movie.  The image is clear, and has grain.

The audio is PCM stereo in Japanese, and English.  It’s clear but with a 5.1 track available in Japan, it’s inadequate.

The subtitles are white with a black border, and were written by someone that didn’t care about their work.  For instance, one character is named Edward, or Ed for short.  Japanese doesn’t have a separate ‘d’ sound, so it’s approximated as ‘e-do’ in Japanese.  A translate that was skilled, or had bothered to do research on the title they were translating would know that the characters were saying ‘ed,’ and translated it as such.  Instead we get ‘Edo.’

Even worse is a scene with a big truck in in.  The truck has ‘tortoise’ written on the side.  Spike calls the company, and the translator writes the company name as ‘Tortas.’  Really.

The disk sells for a little over $10, and it’s utilitarian.  If you don’t have the movie already, it’s an okay presentation for a movie that deserves far better.