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Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Cowboy Bebop? Is that some sort of dance?
Wrt: Marc Handler, Keiko Nobumoto, Hajime Yatate
Dir: Sinichiro Watanabe
Str: Beau Billimgslea, Wendee Lee, Melissa Charles, David Lucas
Opens April 4th

First things first. How about that Spirited Away? Winning Best Animated Feature, beating that whole pile of upchuck churned out by the Disney and pseudo-Disney studios. And on top of it, they re-released it in theaters last weekend. Way to go Miyazaki! Nice work Mr. Academy, maybe there's some hope for you after all.

There is very little animation that can rival the Japanese, especially the good Japanese animation. Cowboy Bebop stands firm as one of the best animated shows made in recent history. The series is a terrific staple of anime, rejuvenating many of the classic anime plots, character archetypes and settings, which were all becoming over used and played out. The show doesn't feel very inventive, but it is deeper and better thought-out than much of the nouveau anime.

The series is a 26 episodes behemoth. Thankfully, unlike with a lot of anime series-come-movies, the writers did not try to condense the series into a two-hour montage, instead opting for a continuation of the tentative plots established in the series. But still, because it's a movie, and because you have to try and capture as much of the characters as you can and sum them up for the people who haven't seen the show, the depth of character - which is a foundation of the series-- feels quite lacking in the movie.

Free Williamsburg
Film Archive


Cowboy Bebop
View From the Top

Laurel Canyon

Ordinary Sinner
Dark Blue
The Quiet American


Hell House
Good Housekeeping
Roger Dodger
Spirited Away
Punch-Drunk Love
Bowling For Columbine
Scarlet Diva
Full Frontal
Sex and Lucia
The Powerpuff Girls Movie
Read My Lips (Sur Mes Levres)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys
Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Human Nature
Shot in the Heart
Jim Brown: All American
Stolen Summer
Ram Dass: Fierce Grace

The plot runs exactly along the lines of the series - namely there is some guy wanted by the law for doing something intensely awful, and he somehow ties into the personal lives of all three bounty hunters who set out to catch him. The only real difference is in the quality of animation. Given how much more of a budget a movie gets compared to its original, it's quite common to see a feature outstrip it's originator so much that it feels almost garish. They go way overboard trying to cover up the grittiness of the original with flashy new CGI tricks resulting in a highly fabricated product. And while Cowboy Bebop: The Movie's animation is far superior to the series, the visuals do step out of the style originally set forth. With the exception of the closing credits (which are brilliantly done), the entire movie looks like a slightly sharper, slightly more expensive episode. It's as though every aspect of the series' animation style was made better, and so, visually, the entire concept of Cowboy Bebop is raised up a notch or two.

Ultimately, however, the movie is overshadowed by its series. The show was so popular, and it's fans are so fanatical, that if they tried to elevate the story or the characters at all, the public outcry would have been immense. Therefore there was nothing they could do but make the movie into an hour and a half long episode. And while its an excellent episode, the movie never even tries to transcend it's roots; that's the price of coming from excellence, the best move you can hope for is a lateral one.

The Ratings

Three Schwarzeneggers

There's a lot of action, in fact it's really all about the action. More so than the TV show, even. Especially impressive is the final fight. Usually in action movies, the ultimate show down is a little anti-climactic, but with Cowboy Bebop, it's really everything you expected, and then some.

Two thin veils covering an emaciated plot

Like I said, it's really all about the action. The show was never very plot heavy, opting for a deep history of character, and an unprecedented detail to the universe its planets and their societies. But not too much plot. Which is fine,

Two and a Half hipsters, all with blue hair for some reason

Cowboy Bebop is perfect for anyone who likes anime, whether or no they have seen the show. For those that are indifferent towards anime, this movie will feel -entertaining and enjoyable. For those of you unlucky dimwits who have no love for the neon hair and ridiculously large eyes you'll probably just wonder what the hell is going on and how you ended up paying ten bucks to watch a freaking cartoon. If you're going to see an animated movie this month, see Spirited Away, but if you've already seen it, see Cowboy Bebop.

--B.C. Edwards
[email protected]

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[email protected] | April 2003 | Issue 37
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