Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime to date. I love the action, the characters, the deep themes. I love how director Shinichiro Watanabe tells stories. I love how the episodes standalone but tell a compelling, overarching story of a group of lonely people failing to make money. And I adore the music of the incomparable Yoko Kanno and The Seatbelts.
Cowboy Bebop truly is its own genre. I have never seen anything quite like it. The way they blend Western with Science Fiction and Noir and other genres is beyond. The show never leans too hard on any one thing. And it is one of the few anime in existence to have a superior English Dub. Cowboy Bebop created its own niche in the anime community and has given amateur fans like me a taste of what anime could do. If you have not already seen this masterpiece of a series, do so with haste.
Because of my adoration for Cowboy Bebop, I had high standards for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (CBTM) when I first saw it a few years ago. I was very curious how Watanabe would accomplish to turn all those episodes of joy, sorrow, patience, and action into a feature-length project. I really loved the movie and have watched it multiple times since that first viewing. I watch clips from the movie on a regular basis and have studied that movie to reverse-engineer some of my own fictional endeavors. Studio Bones, Shinichiro Watanabe, Yoko Kanno, the cast, and the crew delivered an incredible addition to the Cowboy Bebop franchise.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (CBTM), also known as Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, takes place around Halloween. The Bebop crew (Spike, Jet, Faye, Edward, and Ein) witness a terrorist attack while attempting to claim middling bounties. The crew gets involved in the mysterious culprit, Vincent Volaju, for his insanely high bounty. But their hunt for Vincent leads to more trouble than any of them expected. The Bebop must hunt Vincent down before his Hallows’ Eve surprise decimates the planet’s population.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie tells the same kind of story as an episode of the series without alienating new fans. The biggest obstacle of introducing an intellectual property to a new market is trying to attract new fans. If CBTM were to only focus on appealing to veteran fans, unfamiliar moviegoers would be completely boxed out of enjoying the story.
Watanabe and Studio Bones find a lovely go-between by carefully boiling the characters down to their core values. Jet is a loving father figure of the crew. Faye is a crass femme fatale. Spike is an impulsive man of action. Edward is a weird genius child and Ein is a good dog. Watanabe does not bog viewers down with complex backstory while serving the story well.
There are moments where the pacing of the movie slows down, but they enhance the viewing experience. Those mundane moments add depth to the world and subtlety to our heroes. The animation in CBTM is masterful. I am not an expert on animation, but the dynamic movement and cinematographic choices of the animators are just as important to the story as the plot and characterization. Yoko Kanno does not pull any stops in making music for the movie. Whether it be a character introduction or a setting, the music adds to the movie.
Every part in making Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is a key piece in the gestalt. I highly recommend watching this movie. Although you do not need to watch the Cowboy Bebop series to enjoy this film, you would be doing a great disservice to yourself by not watching that as well. As I have stated, it will show you the heights that are possible with anime.
I hope you have enjoyed this Halloween Review. Be sure to follow me on Twitter, TV Time, and Letterboxd. I’ll be back in two weeks with another article about the entertainment and news I give my life away to every day.