COWBOY BEBOP:THE MOVIE
Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no tobira (2001)
I’m not an Anime or Manga fan. While a fan of SPEED RACER reruns as a kid, and blown away by films like AKIRA and the first GHOST IN THE SHELL, I generally find them to be the exception rather than the rule. That is to say I come across more anime I dislike than like.
The same thing for manga, I’ve tried things like MONSTER only to find myself uninterested quickly.
So it was nice to go into COWBOY BEBOP THE MOVIE, and immediately take a liking to the visuals and tone of the story telling, and the multi-cultural tableau of COWBOY BEBOP was also quite welcome.
A couple things strike you really quickly going into the film, it’s visually very beautiful to look at, fluid and kinetic and even balletic. Great action scenes and the visuals are sumptuous. The 2nd thing that strikes you is just how brilliant a job the English Voice actors and sound design crew do in bringing this to life. The dub is generally a derided part of most imports, we’ve all sat through our share of horrendous English dub jobs. So the general rule of thumb, is viewers should sit through dubbing only for comedies, and subtitles are for dramatic foreign films (the thinking being humor is something that can’t be well conveyed in subtitles, humor is a lot to do with pacing and intonation and much of that requires the spoken voice, not subtitles. Plus any poor English dub voices will only add to the humor/ridiculousness).
So yeah the general rule of thumb is the dub version should be avoided for anything save humor. I’m happy to say that COWBOY BEBOP THE MOVIE is the exception to that rule. I watched it both ways, with the English Dub and with subtitles, and the English dub is clearly the way to go. The Voice actors are awesome, really strong performances, and convey so much information, that you don’t get by just reading the subtitles.
So very rarely do English Voice Actors working on foreign films get their due, but here they really do stellar work, and make this film shine. Highly recommended performances by all the voice actors.
Now moving onto the film itself, I went into it pretty blind having never seen an episode of COWBOY BEBOP, and for the most part that wasn’t a problem. The movie being relatively new viewer friendly. A story about a group of bounty hunters on Mars, and their most dangerous hunt. The movie does suffer from some pacing issues, it feels long. It took a few tries to actually get through this movie, I found myself zoning out consistently at the same spot. Going along with that issue, 3/4th of the way in, after the protagonist Spike has the battle on the train, the plot does get confusing. A murky resurrection, talk of Spike and the Antagonist being the same, and talk of a previous girlfriend, and it’s all a bit off-putting to the new viewer who hasn’t seen any COWBOY BEBOP.
However murky bits and pacing issues aside it ends entertainingly enough, with enough stellar, imaginative visuals and tender story and awesome jazz-tinged soundtrack to get a recommend from this reviewer, But be aware that this is very much a DVD film, it works much better consumed in portions, rather than trying to sit through the whole thing at once. Your mileage may vary. Grade: B.