Also From This Reviewer
(Classic) Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
(originally posted 2003)
We here at YNI got our glimpse at the movie before a deal was even made for it to hit the American shores (as we do with most anime), but now that it has...I feel it's safe for me to review it. It's been a while since I, good ol' Ydoc, have sat down to portray my thoughts on a movie in review form. I suppose I've been waiting for something like this to get me to break out of my busy life. Anyway, I'm a bit rusty at this, but here goes.
Take a hit anime series that made a lasting impression on multiple countries and throw it into a feature length film and you don't necessarily have a hit. However Cowboy Bebop hasn't always been about what everyone else has done before. Each episode of Cowboy Bebop has been it's own miniature film and each were treated that way, and so the transaction to a feature only seemed natural.
Now this isn't some nearly hour long piece of crap that most anime series try to pawn off as a movie, nor is it a sub-par re-telling of the series. This is a movie, as anyone could perceive a movie. One of the great things about Bebop is that the series was both linear and not at the same time. You could generally skip one episode and still understand what's going on in the next one while still keeping a progressing story about the crew's past. So the directors took this and used it to their advantage by placing a completely independent movie between episodes 22 and 23 of the series.
The movie begins on mars, just days before Halloween. But a little tanker truck causes the planning of festivities to come to a mild halt as it explodes with a little help from a group of terrorists. To top everything off, the explosion releases a nasty little virus that kills more than a few of highway one's daily commuters. People begin to live in fear of another more deadly attack, but the problem is the universe is a big place...how can the police possibly find him? The answer lies in a substantial reward being put on the mastermind's head. A reward big enough to get the Bebops crew off of their bored and hungry butts.
Everything progresses from there into an awesome story that takes Bebop to the next level.
Jet Black- Beau Billingslea (E), Unshou Ishizuka (J)
Ed - Melissa Fahn (E), Aoi Tada (J)
Faye Valentine - Wendee Lee (E), Megumi Hayashibara (J)
Spike Spiegel - Steve Blum (E), Kouichi Yamadera (J)
Rasheed -Nicholas Guest (E), ?(J)
Electra Ovilo - Jennifer Hale (E), ?(J)
Vincent Volaju - Darran Norris (E), ?(J)
This is the part of the review I was itching to get to. It's hard to pick a cast to decide to review because both casts are amazing. The Japanese cast was the original vision, but the English cast is part of what I consider THE BEST dub group I've ever heard. So I have to choose...and as a man on the road to voice acting himself...I'm going to choose the English cast.
First off I'm going to focus on Steve Blum. This man brings Spike to life the way I like to hear him...as a bad-ass who's laid-back yet internally tortured at the same time. David Lucas was billed as Spike's actor in the series, and he claims very intensely that he is not the same person as Mr. Blum...but I seriously doubt it. If they aren't the same person...then they sound EXACTLY the same. Either way, Spike's voice for the movie is as cool as always.
Next we will focus on the sultry intellectual vixen of the series, Faye Valentine. Wendee Lee brings the same life to the character that she did in the series, and let's you feel that hard-headed woman vibe at every turn. Mrs. Lee may be over-used in this field, but it's done for a reason...she's just that good. I also feel she brings more of a feel of independence to the character than her Japanese counterpart.
Melissa Fahn (formerly Melissa Charles) giggles her way into the role of Ed yet again. Everything about Ed, from the casting, to the recording process, to the actual production itself is nothing but perpetual play. If you don't like cute, however, you won't like Ed. Ed's voice is adorable, and you can't help but think "that must have been fun to do" when hearing her mutter a little song....then again I could just be weird. And yes, Edward is a girl. She was originally conceived as a boy, but was in fact changed to a girl at the last minute before the series was made.
Jet returns with that same fatherly attitude and voice he had in the series. Only this time his paternal instincts seem magnified a bit. Beau Billingslea brings his own personal experience as a father to the table to make his attitudes a bit more realistic. As far as the actual action goes, Jet pretty much stands back.
Ok, don't get me wrong. The music was incredible...for the most part. Yoko Kano is a musical genius and this movie was the first time I've ever disliked one of her songs. It's this little country ditty that's played as Spike goes searching for a bit of information on Vincent. Hey, some people don't get anime...I don't get country music.
What can I say? The crew behind this movie is still amazing. The animation still has the same jazzy feel to it.
Extra Features (DVD) 2/5
I'm a big fan of behind-the-scenes stuff and as a result the featurettes really interested me. It was great to see what the voice actors other than Wendee Lee looked like, and I loved seeing them at work in the sound booth. It was also really interesting to hear that Melissa Fahn pretty much sounds exactly like Ed in real life. It was also great to see it in widescreen format (and yes, you do see more of the movie in widescreen. It's an aspect-ratio/math thing.).
It is in those areas, however, that the interest in the extra features ends. The concept art and storyboard comparisons were kinda neat, but not worth much more than a real quick flip through... and the in-depth character profiles are pretty much just needed or interesting to people unfamiliar with the series.
The music videos were for the two great songs "Ask DNA" and "Gotta Knock a Little Harder". "Ask DNA" was very well put together as a music video, but the problem lies in that you've seen it before if you watched the movie before the special features (as everyone always should). It was simply the opening to the movie without the credits, and "Gotta Knock a Little Harder" was just the ending without the credits...and nowhere near as interesting as the opening.
The real problem I had with the special features is just a picky thing of mine, and that is that the selection of trailers was horrid. The few anime trailers that were on it were boring and unimaginative with exception of "Metropolis" and the Bebop movie trailer itself. The thing that really got my goat about the trailers was it featured trailers for non-anime movies...such as "Bad Boys 2" and "XXX". Anime has been doing that lately (even the Bebop series did this) and it simply bugs me. Maybe it's because I'm recalling back to the good ol' geezer days in which I fist started watching anime.
Final Thoughts 4.2/5
My final words are, that the movie was great. Go buy it! The DVD features could use a little work, but the movie is well worth 20-25 bucks.
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