Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

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VivisQueen's avatar
Feb 19, 2008

Story

If you enjoyed the style and substance of Cowboy Bebop the series then there should be nothing to actively dislike here. A rarity among sequels, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie manages to replicate the mood and tone of its predecessor, meandering through its milieu in a way that truly engages the imagination, whilst providing just enough stunning climaxes to keep even action junkies on a pleasant high.

However, don't expect it to match up to the series as an overall product. I enjoyed Cowboy Bebop because it told a series of short simplistic stories with unparalleled style and attitude whilst paying careful attention to the characters along the way. The movie makes a valiant attempt to utilise that same episodic template but, due to the extended running time and lack of character development, ends up losing steam towards the end. For a feature length movie the plot is just too generic; whilst the specific details are obviously a surprise, the general direction and flow of events is predictable. Cutting the movie down to an hour-long OVA would have been one easy way to avoid that problem.

Still, getting engrossed is easy enough because the direction - Watanabe's hands on the tiller, so to speak - is first-class. Moreover, nothing compares to that nostalgic feeling of settling back into a classic; the movie is a welcome opportunity to watch some excellent characters, particularly Spike and Faye, doing what they do best.

In short, Bebop: The Movie is coherent and generally enjoyable, but lacks originality due to its ‘sequel' nature. I should also add that until writing this review I had not rewatched the movie at all because, when in need of that Bebop experience, I just revisited my favourite episodes of the series instead.


Animation

I don't actually know where to start when describing what this movie looks like and, more importantly, how it makes me feel. Sure, Bebop: The Movie is already being left behind by newer productions but it can still hold its own against a host of others despite its age. As far as concepts go, Bebop: The Movie performs with effortless grace, the biggest highlight being the montage of Spike strolling through the city in search of information. Everything combines seamlessly to provide a multifaceted experience, from the use of light, to the design of buildings and roads, and even the nuances in posture regarding some characters. If you're into anime that capture the soul of realism through detail, then this one is for you.

Furthermore, what this movie does best, beyond doubt, is to provide stunning action sequences; every move is intricately animated, whether running or kicking or stumbling around. As with the combat in Seirei no Moribito, you'll find no silly power-ups or beams of light, just fantastic and realistic martial arts.


Sound

Just when I thought it could not get any better, Yoko Kanno improved upon perfection once again. A couple of the tunes are recognisable from the series but the vast majority are new, and they set the combination of cool and haunting moods flawlessly. Also, with such a generous array of blues, pop, jazz, country, and choral pieces, the movie is continuously refreshing to listen to; in fact, I believe only one of the songs ends up being used more than once.

In terms of voice acting, one of the best things about Bebop: The Movie is that whether in English or Japanese the voice actors are both believable and suitable. These are by no means the best vocal performances in the anime universe but they are fully enjoyable.


Characters

Supposedly, the movie takes place between the twenty-first episode and the final two episodes of the series, which means that the main characters are fully developed and the dynamics of their relationships are already established.

Spike and the rest of the Bebop gang remain exactly the same as we remember them, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Each character has a strong personality, a fascinating attitude, and a distinct flare; so, as one of the strongest features of the movie, their impact is only diminished by the ordinary plot within which they act. All in all, they are highly engaging to watch even if nothing surprising is revealed about them. That leaves only the newer cast members:

Considering Electra Ovilo has a spot next to Spike and Faye on the DVD cover, her role is somewhat disappointing. She has some great moves and an interesting uncompromising attitude but that's about it. In light of how flat she turns out to be, I feel she exists mainly to provide a fresh face. She matters to the story in a limited sense and more as a passive participant than an active force to push the plot forward.

Unfortunately, Vincent Volaju, the antagonist, is also far from awe-inspiring, mainly because I find it difficult to understand what drives him. If he wants revenge, then it seems lathered in an excess of self-conscious philosophy; if it is something more complicated then his clichéd approach undermines any credibility. While I appreciate that he is meant to be one of those ‘interpret your own motivation' types, this also makes it impossible to sympathise with him and leaves me feeling rather dissatisfied. Despite that, he still adds an interesting soullessness to the movie's atmosphere, meaning he slots in nicely with Bebop's style even if he is not a great character in his own right.


Overall

For me, Cowboy Bebop has always been about the peculiar mood it generates and the way it presents a story in such a way that it can also be interpreted through an intuitive lens. Bebop: The Movie translates this unique richness in style very well and in many ways it just delivers more of the same. And that is also its problem, the fact that it brings nothing new. Still, considering this is Bebop, it is an easy sequel to enjoy.

6.5/10 story
8.5/10 animation
9.5/10 sound
6.5/10 characters
7/10 overall
crazyworld's avatar
Jul 10, 2015

What to say. Normally I don't care for anime movies that come from original series, as they sometimes fail miserably. This was a whole other story. 

The animation is clearly the series' peak. It looks a lot more detailed and colorful than in the series. The series was made in 1998 so I expect the animation to be of it's time so to speak. This movie not only upped the animation, but remained consistent with it (no surprise as it is done by BONES animation studio, who for the most part is pretty consistent with their animation). The story was amazing, following Spike and his crew. From what I remember this takes place between episodes 22 and 23 (which is why Ed and Ein are still on the Bebop). Anyway the story follows a the crew going after a deadly virus and the culprit is worth 300 million woolongs. Whilst another woman is also on the hunt for this man. The movie is chaotic, but that's exactly what makes it good. The pacing is brilliant so we don't get very many slow moments and finally we have the sound which features a pitch perfect english dub with good japanese voices to boot.

If you're a fan of Cowboy Bebop, you'll love this and quite possibly find it has much rewatch value. BONES you've really outdone yourselves here.

9/10 story
9/10 animation
9/10 sound
8/10 characters
8.8/10 overall
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RabidMonk's avatar
Oct 7, 2009

Note: Since the movie is really part of the series I watched it spliced in where it belonged - however, I have a review for both which is this same review so don't bother reading both unless you really enjoyed my review the first time. =)

I really enjoyed Cowboy Bebop.  It's one of those shows that actually become better to me once I'd finished it.  What I mean by that statement is simply that once the story had come to completion and the characters then had been fully fleshed out I could think back on the older episodes and appreciate them in a very different way than I could at first.

When I began watching Cowboy Bebop I was actually a bit disappointed and I had considered several times stopping.  It wasn't until somewhere around the middle of the series (seriously, like episode 13 or something) that I really started to appreciate the characters, and in the end, that's what the show is about.  At least in my mind.

Those characters become something that can be fully appreciated only after you really begin to understand them.  I actually watched this a second time (which I *rarely* do with anything) because I wanted my wife to watch it with me and in some senses it was better the second time around simply because all those memories of the characters were already there.

So why does the movie get a five and the series a four?  The move is just better.  Now if you just watched the movie alone and did not have the series as a basis up to that point I'd imagine the rating would be much lower.  As a stand alone it probably works, but I can't imagine it being nearly as meaningful without the series behind it.

It's the fact that you already know the characters, their strengths, and flaws that makes the movie interesting.  Also the fact that you have a lot more time to develop the plot than a normal episode allowed for script to be much more invovled and interesting.

There's much to be said both for and against the episoding nature of anime, but at times I really wish the writer's had an hour or more to develop their stories.  You write differently when you know the show is only going to last 22-23 minutes than if you have a much longer time to work with.

One last comment.  The music is often lauded in this series and I think that is a justifiable item of praise.  It's got a great soundtrack and the fact that each episode is heavily tied to the music style makes for a really fun ride that always is offering something new.

There are a couple of gems in the episodes and a few that are a bit more lack-luster, but overall Cowboy Bebop is probalby justifiably ranked where it is on most rankings.

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
10/10 overall
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pinkarray's avatar
Jan 18, 2017

Story:

First of all, the story raised some questions and I couldn't follow it. Something about people getting sick from nanomachines? The story didn't seem to do the TV series justice. It takes place around Halloween and the characters are off to try and defeat Vincent and there's a tower that looks like an Eiffel Tower. The Halloween plot just seems to be unnecessarily added in there just to make Vincent look freaky than he already is.

Characters:

It was nice to see the characters especially Spike again, but I always felt that this movie was was disappointing compared to the series. I felt that something was wrong with the characters like Spike. He just seemed quite persuasive. Vincent is a terrible villain. He's just a Spike copycat for Spike to try and relate to and also defeat.

I didn't really think much of Faye and Jet, but Faye in here was annoying with her talkativeness about going out on the race track or something.

Electra minus her know-it-all personality seemed like she could be a good character but the end ruined it for her. If Vincent was the guy who wanted to terrorize other people, why was she still in love with him? She's beautiful but this whole love story at the end was contrived.

Animation:

The Cowboy Bebop animation looks more exciting and surreal than the series. There is some fast camera movements. Though, Spike's clothes look darker than in the TV series. But the problem is that one minor character kept moving his arms around when he was frightened and he was talking to Vincent before he shot him.

Voice acting and music:

The English dub was probably the best part of the movie. I liked how well Steven's voice captures Spike's interest for Electra, and like the series, the other voice actors did well capturing the characters' personalities. Though, I don't know about Vincent, I think he still needs to shut up. The music captured the emotions well. Though, the music isn't jazzy, disappointingly, but oh well, it sounds more country-like and the music sounds catchy. I don't like country music but the country music here sounds pretty catchy.

Overall

It's pretty good for a Cowboy Bebop movie. It has pretty high re- watch value because I loved some of the characters but I still thought the series was more interesting.

5/10 story
8/10 animation
7/10 sound
6/10 characters
7/10 overall
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aritentd's avatar
Oct 11, 2009

Cowboy Bebop the Movie

It took me quite a long time to get to this movie. I guess I was afraid it would not live up to my expectations. Fortunately it did! Keep in mind that I am writing this review after watching the series, I am not sure how I would rate it as a standalone movie.

I have to start with visuals as I was really surprised how well the movie aged. There is a classic feel to it, something a lot of modern HD flicks are lacking. It is the same thing I love about older live action movies. Cameras they use these days are so good, that the image looks unreal, no distortion at all. It might be just nostalgia^^. Still Cowboy Bebop look really beautiful, backgrounds are full of details, animation is excellent. Dogfights and martial art is choreographed in a way, that it looks amazing, while keeping the moves look "doable". I am not sure everyone will like the look of Cowboy Bebop, but it certainly is one of the achievements of the old era.

The soundtrack is awesome. How could it not be, when it was composed by one of the best. Yoko Kanno proves again and again how good she is. She gives the movie a soul in a way none other could. Different genres are mixed to create a unique mood for every character and place. If I went to see this movie and there was a problem with a projector, I would probably be satisfied just with the music.

Cowboy bebop has a strong cast, which was fully developed in the series. This might be a problem if you have not seen it. The movie is not trying to further develop those characters. The plot feels more like a "long" episode than a movie, but I as a fan do completely agree with the way they did it. The episodic style fits Cowboy Bebop and it has a few surprises, that are not easily predictable. All in all, enjoyable experience.

If you are a fan, don't waste your time reading this and go watch it. If you are not, then start with the series and come back running for more. ^^

?/10 story
?/10 animation
?/10 sound
?/10 characters
9/10 overall
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