Description:What should be the routine
capture of a two-bit hacker escalates into a deadly game of cat and mouse,
gang of intergalactic bounty hunters struggle to prevent the
evil Vincent Volaju from murdering every human on Mars. —
Cartoon Network viewers and anime fans will probably already be familiar
with the Cowboy Bebop TV series.
For those in the dark: it is a
1998 Japanese animated TV series about a disparate group of intergalactic
bounty hunters. In this full-length movie version, they become embroiled
in a plot involving bioterrorism while tracking down a minor criminal.
The title not only refers to
the name of their spaceship to my mind, but is also indicative of the
show’s style. After all, one wouldn’t usually associate bebop (a type of
jazz played after WWII by the likes of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie)
with the term “cowboy”.
Thus, the show is an
eclectic mix of different styles. Imagine traditional anime character
designs set against a Heavy Metal or 2000 A.D.
(for our Brit readers out there) magazine backdrop with circa a 1960s Blue
Note record label jazz soundtrack. Throw in other visual and plot elements
such as 1970s TV shows, homages to classic SF movies such as
2001 and Alien, and you
still wouldn’t have an idea of what to expect.
It all gels together
though. While it may sound like an over-stylized mess and a case of style
over substance, Cowboy Bebop is at times surprisingly emotionally
affecting and sunny. (It isn’t nowhere as violent or dystopic as
Akira and Ghost in the
Shell for instance.)
The 23 minute or so long
shows are hugely entertaining – with the only criticism being that it at
times didn’t live up to the high standards it set itself. Oh, and that in
order to cramp in events in its short running time that narrative and logic
takes a backseat.
full-length movie alas suffers from both I’m afraid: many of the episodes
are better and while the running time here is longer, the narrative is
still a bit of mess. In addition, some bits of
the movie still feel like padding. That doesn’t make it bad though: the
animation is excellent, the soundtrack adequate (I still missed the show’s
regular signature tune though – catchy stuff indeed!) and some action set
pieces simply jaw-droppingly well done.
Regular fans will
however be slightly let down and newbies will be nonplussed as to the show’s
dedicated cult following. Note the slightly: Cowboy Bebop
remains quite watchable and much better than a lot of the stuff out there.
While the movie stands on its own and it isn’t necessary for newcomers to
have seen any of the TV show episodes, it isn’t necessarily the best
introduction to Cowboy Bebop. Rather check out the first few TV
episodes on DVD instead.