‘Cowboy Bebop: The Movie’ Still Jams More Than 20 Years Later

Julien Neaves, Editor

Plot: The motley bounty hunter crew of the Bebop go up against a mysterious terrorist seeking to destroy Mars with a deadly pathogen.

Review: I watched iconic 1998 neo noir science fiction anime series Cowboy Bebop for the first time last November in anticipation of the Netflix live action series. And, long story short, the anime was awesome and the live action was mostly disappointing. When I found out there was a Cowboy Bebop movie the completionist in me had to be satisfied. And I am happy to report the 2001 film is a worthy addition to the franchise.

Stop staring at me. You guys are freaking me out!

Directed by series director Shinichirō Watanabe and set between episodes 22 and 23 of the original 26-episode series, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie features all of the Bebop crew in their wacky glory: dapper and super cool former hitman Spike Spiegel; crusty, big-hearted former cop Jet Black; flighty gambler Faye Valentine; quirky computer genius Ed; and artificially enhanced “data dog” with human-level intelligence Ein. Fans of the original anime will feel right at home here as the animation style is very similar though with more polish. And the film continues the fantastic music, adding some Arabic sounds to the usual jazz and pop tunes. The super catchy main theme does not carry over, but other than that, no complaints.

While the episodes pivoted from dark crime drama to silly comedy the story for the film is played pretty straight. Sure you get some comedic moments from Spike’s dry, griping humour and Ed’s wild antics but if you are looking for a laugh-a-minute anime action comedy Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is not your jam. And befitting it’s bigger budget, the film features a lot more action and grand set pieces. You have bloody hand-to-hand scraps, tense shoot-outs and one cool, massive explosions, if somewhat unnecessary, dogfight.

Let’s start this party with a bang!

The story is relatively straightforward—stop bad guy from doing really bad things to a lot of people—but there are enough layers to make things interesting. And there are some philosophical and existential themes which tickle the brain while the heart-pumping action dazzles the eyes. In terms of the main crew, we get a good bit of Spike and decent doses of Faye and Ed, though Jet feels under utilised. The two most prominent new characters are agent Elektra Ovilo, who doesn’t do much other than have Spike flirt with her, fight and be haunted, and main villain Vincent. who has a cool look but is your typical “want to watch the world burn” kind of guy. Standard stuff. We do get a hint of the franchise’s oddball antagonists with video game addicted hacker Lee Sampson, who I did enjoy.

While the film does not achieve the storied heights of the top episodes of the anime, it is still a very good entry and more than worthy of the Cowboy Bebop name. And if you are a fan of the series, then you definitely have to check it out.

Editor Jules’s Score: 7.5 out of 10

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Julien “Editor Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”. Read more.