Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

on April 04, 2003 by Tim Cogshell
If you're a fan of the inordinately popular Cartoon Network, you're probably familiar with "Cowboy Bebop," yet another in the myriad of Japanese anime shows ruling the American youth-oriented television market where the Jetsons, Flintstones and Simpsons used to reign. Actually, that is not completely true: There are very few true anime series appearing on American television. The popular animation transplants, ranging from "The Powerpuff Girls" back to the once all-powerful "Pokémon," are technically a different genre than the traditionally dark, more realistically designed, violent and often metaphysical anime form. Nevertheless, "Cowboy Bebop" is very popular, and the bigscreen version does not disappoint, though the non-anointed may find both the genre and this particular storyline a bit more dense than the usual American studio animation. Mostly, it's just lots of martial arts (excellently staged), John Woo-style gunplay, well-animated high-speed chases and cryptic, noiresque dialogue. It's cool, but hard to understand.

Series regulars Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong and their trusty Data Dog, Ein, are on the trail of a criminal who exploded a tanker in the middle of a major Martian city, releasing a contaminant that leaves 500 victims dead. It looks like a bio-weapon, and to find the culprit the Bebop Bounty Hunters will have to trace the origin of the bug. It gets pretty ethereal after that, but there's a government plot (as usual) involving a secret military unit. They dispatch their top agent, Elektra, to bring home the criminal mastermind behind both the tanker incident and another plot that could end life on Mars. Anime is always high-melodrama. This is a cool movie, but it's also fan-base specific. It's not the "Lion King." Starring Steven Jay Blum, Beau Billingslea, Wendee Lee, Mellisa Fahn, Jennifer Hale and Daran Norris. Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe. Written by Keiko Nobumoto. Produced by Shiro Tanka and Masuo Ueda. A Tristar release. Sci-Fi/Action/Anime. Not yet rated. Running time: 120 min.

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