In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot--one created solely for sexual pleasure--who slaughtered her owner.
The year is 2071. Following a terrorist bombing, a deadly virus is released on the populace of Mars and the government has issued a 300 million woo-long reward, the largest bounty in history, for the capture of whoever is behind it. The bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop; Spike, Faye, Jet and Ed, take the case with hopes of cashing in the bounty. However, the mystery surrounding the man responsible, Vincent, goes deeper than they ever imagined, and they aren't the only ones hunting him. The original creators of the virus have dispatched Electra to deal with Vincent and take out anyone who may stumble on the truth behind him. As the hunt for the man with no past and no future continues to escalate, they begin to question what about the world is reality and what is a dream as the line between sanity and insanity becomes more apparent. Written by
Watching Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is kind of like reconnecting with an old friend. He's got the same sense of humor, the same style and you recognize him, but at the same time, he's matured. Perhaps he's grown sleeker, taken advantage of improved technologies, or perhaps gotten a little wide around the belly.
Everything's back in Cowboy Bebop the movie. Because of the characters and plot as we know it, the movie probably occurs somewhere in the late teen episodes or early twenties episodes of the series, which has a positive and a negative effect. If you've already watched the series, then certain things don't surprise you since you know what happens to the characters later. Furthermore, because this was produced after the series, it also doesn't get to tangle with the central storyline of the series (they mythology), where the series, which was excellent even in the anthology episodes, really shined. On the plus side, it hits where we're most familiar with the series, before things get super serious and with the characters in the state that they spent most of the series.
The story deals with a bioterror threat and the Cowboys get caught up in it, while trying to nab bounties to make a little change while in an urban city. There is no space travel or dogfights in space, but The Movie does take efforts to include a little of everything that the series has had (minus the mythos), so expect to see martial arts, gunplay, dogfights (but not in space), goofing off, hungry characters, Ed being silly and such.
Unfortunately, the story only lives up to the high standard of a stand-alone episode of Cowboy Bebop, but despite the fact that The Movie is considerably longer than an episode, it all flows along smoothly and feels like you just watched a good two-parter rather than an episode that's been dragged out. Nonetheless, since we hardly get into the Cowboy characters, the story doesn't have the same resonance of the stronger episodes in the series. Instead we get to go deeper into a pair of characters for the movie, who have somewhat interesting stories, but aren't strong enough to really carry the emotional heft of the film since they aren't the protagonists.
The art, on the other hand, is still gorgeous and the movie benefits from the widescreen aspect ratio as well as what appears to be an improved budget for the animation, as everything, from backgrounds to characters, are treated with a wonderful level of detail. There are a few scenes involving butterflies that are absolutely beautiful to look at. Furthermore, the sound benefits from a great surround sound mix, adding directionality and heft to the soundtrack. Finally, the score by Yoko Kanno is delicious to listen to and perfectly brings you back into the series while presenting some absolutely stunning new songs in the mix as well.
Overall, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is a fun ride. Although, in the end, it's not as strong (story-wise) as the more compelling episodes of the series, the art, the sound, the music and just getting to spend a little more time again with characters you've come to know and love makes this a thoroughly enjoyable film. Recommended for Cowboy Bebop fans--but you must watch at least most of the series before watching this. 8/10.
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