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Cowboy Bebop: the Movie DVDetails
Reviewed by Kevin Pezzano, © 2003

Format: Anime
By:   Bandai Entertainment/Columbia Tristar
Genre:   Action
Released:   June 24, 2003
Review Date:   July 03, 2003
Audience Rating:   R
RevSF Rating:   9/10 (What Is This?)

"I love the kind of woman that could kick my ass." —Spike Spiegel, on meeting Elektra for the first time

While I almost completely disagree with Jason Myers' review of "Cowboy Bebop: the Movie" (we both agree that it's nothing but an overblown episode of the TV series, but unlike him I happen to think that's a very GOOD thing), I'm not going to provide any sort of counterpoint to it here. After all, if you liked the TV series (and who doesn't?), you WILL like the movie version. As Jason himself said, no review will really do anything to change that. So, instead of rehashing the movie again, I'm going to tell you why you should buy the DVD.

As with so many other DVD releases (such as "Attack of the Clones"), it all comes down to one thing: the extras. Your standard Hollywood DVD release, even one for a crappy movie, is usually packed with tons of extra features: bonus footage, making-of documentaries, actor interviews, and the like. Hell, even the execrable "Bats" had a full-length commentary track from the star and director! I only point this out because we anime fans generally aren't so lucky. While there are a few anime DVD gems out there (the "Evangelion" movies, for instance), when it comes to DVD extras, we usually have to be satisfied with some trailers and a clean opening or two. And that's if we're LUCKY! Fortunately for those of us in the Otaku-American community, since "Cowboy Bebop: the Movie" got a theatrical release from a major Hollywood studio (albeit a limited arthouse release), the DVD has more in common with the "real movies" that clutter the shelves of Best Buy than the bare-bones specialty-market anime releases. At least in bonus material terms.

The best thing about the extras on this disc (aside from their sheer quantity, that is) is their . . . well, "multiculturalism" is the best word I can think of to describe them. The main mini-documentaries (featurettes on each of the main characters, a featurette on the worldwide appeal of "Cowboy Bebop" in general, and one about the development of the TV series into a feature-length movie) cover both the original Japanese production and the English adaptation almost equally. Comments from the director and character designer are mixed with interview clips of the voice actors of BOTH languages, blending into an almost seamless whole that gives a truly international feel to the production that is very appropriate for an anime like this.

And these aren't puff pieces, either. Well, okay, maybe the "worldwide appeal" featurette is, but not the character featurettes. Each of the main castmembers (Spike, Faye, Jet, and Ed) is given a brief but surprisingly deep analysis. This isn't the pseudo-scholarly rantings of some anime fanboy or a guy who really has no business being in an anime-related documentary, either (yes, I'm still bitter about Todd McFarlane being on the "Animatrix" DVD). It's a look at the characters from the POV of not just the creators, but the Japanese and American actors, and they have some fascinating things to say about the people they portray.

The other extras on this DVD aren't as unique, but they're still pretty damn cool. The conceptual art and storyboard comparisons are good for the gearheads among us, and the text character profiles will be helpful for those few who are buying this DVD but that are unfamiliar with the source TV series. Plus, as befits the stunning role Yoko Kanno's brilliantly jazzy soundtrack plays in the proceedings here, there's a couple of music videos to delight and entertain. The rest of the extras are a lot more prosaic (widescreen, digitally mastered, Dolby surround, various audio selections), but they're still very nice to have on what is essentially an anime DVD. We don't get that kind of stuff all that often, so we might as well be grateful.

The DVD of "Cowboy Bebop: the Movie" is better looking than most anime discs, it has more extras than most anime discs, it's cheaper than most anime discs, and it features information about one of the best anime series ever made that you won't find anywhere else. Do you really need any more convincing before you go and pick up this DVD? Plus, this is probably the only place you'll ever see a trailer for "Bad Boys II" run alongside a trailer for "Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis". Buy this disc. NOW.

Movie Rating: 9/10

DVD Rating: 10/10

Anime Editor Kevin Pezzano only WISHES he looked as good in yellow PVC hotpants as Faye does. And WE wish he'd stop trying to convince us otherwise.

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