Monday, November 9, 2009

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)

COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE
DIRECTED BY: SHINICHIRO WATANABE
WRITTEN BY: KEIKO NOBUMOTO
OVERALL SCORE: 7.25/10


While on the hunt for a hacker bounty, Faye Valentine (Megumi Hayashibara) witnesses a terrorist take by an unknown substance. With a bounty of 300million out for the man behind it, the Bebop crew team up to find the elusive man before he strikes again. Though the deeper they dig, the more horrifying the backstory they find. Meanwhile Spike's (Koichi Yamadera) investigation leads him into the heart of government testing, and an odd spiritual connection he can't quite shake.

Several years after the end of Cowboy Bebop Watanabe and Nobumoto teamed up to bring this series to film form, and succeeded quite nicely. Wonderfully combining the old school techniques that made the show a hit with a more in depth storyline, and an increase in technical difficulty, Cowboy Bebop wonderfully adds to the original series. This is very important as there is some debate over when the movie takes place. While many note that with character developments they most fit their attitudes and locations in between episode 22 and 23. Though with the film's alternate name, and some in film conversations, some believe this insert may take place post the credits of episode 26 (that's all I can say without giving away the show's finale).

Either way it's a beautiful portrait backed by a strong storyline, great characters, and some strong emotional attachments. Perhaps the most notable aspect of the movie is that the team really put a lot of effort into the minor details. The subtle character movements, expressions, bring out a certain beauty to the cinematic experience. The characters are more accessible, more lively, and feel far more authentic. In this film they're at their most extreme character aspects, really letting fans of the series in. Of course this comes with a side effect, those not familiar with the series will likely find much of the film not nearly as entertaining. Some of the inside jokes, recurring characters/themes, won't be picked up on, and alas I fear leave out the more general audience.

Even with that hurdle, there's lots to be said for the story this time around. Government testing generic lay in the backstory, but it's in the conversations and development that Cowboy Bebop's movie encarnation takes on a life of its own. The developments between the characters, their conversations, understanding bleakness of those around them, there's a sort of emotional power that it's hard to recreate. Not to mention the detail to shots. Watanabe's direction here is as its absolute peak, wonderfully creating shots that awe inspire, and captivate with beautiful scenery, and deep emotional regret. As well Cowboy Bebop The Movie isn't nearly as bleak as the subtext of the series would lead you to believe. It deals with a sort of heavy handed life, much like its main characters, but at the same time it seeks out hope and belief in a better future. All of these colminate in a finale well worthy of Cowboy Bebop, the sort of film I'm hoping it's eventual live-action counterpart can live up to (but with Keanu Reeves rumored to be the leading man who knows).

A beautiful and fitting installment into the Cowboy Bebop series, The Movie offers just about anything and everything a series fan could desire.

2 better thoughts:

TheAnswerMVP2001 said...

I not going to lie and say I read your anime review but I felt sorry for you after no one commented last time so here's my obligatory comment for the day! ;)

Univarn said...

@MVP It's ok I'm sure you feel much in the same way about my not watching Supernatural and Smallville as I do about people who don't give anime a chance (or like it). Are we both missing out? Perhaps. Will we ever know? Probably not.

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