Articles Films

#ActionAugust: Cowboy Bepop: The Movie (2001)

When asked what action movie I wanted to cover, I felt like I wanted to go a bit out of the box with my pick. And by “wanting to go a bit out of the box”, I meant that I saw this as an opportunity to give this movie a rewatch. Because I’ll take any excuse I can get to do so.

Set in the year 2071, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (unofficial subtitle not used due to legal reasons: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door) follows the ragtag crew of the Bebop as they go on a mission to stop a dangerous terrorist. Not to save people, mind you, but because there’s a huge bounty put on the guy’s head. For those not aware, this is a follow-up/interquel to an anime series from 1998, and it very much plays like an extended episode. The gang gets a target, they investigate, they go after the target, etc, etc. And as a huge fan of the series, I don’t mind this. It’s interesting to see the style of storytelling expanded into a two hour runtime, rather than the usual 25 minutes. And yet it never feels like they dragged it out. They manage to keep it interesting for the entire run. Sure, in the end it doesn’t do anything too crazy, and it’s not exactly the most nuanced of plots. But as far as action-noir-western-science fiction-dramedy plots go, it still entertains very well. And for anyone wondering: No, you don’t really need to watch the show to be able to get into this movie. Though it would certainly help in connecting with the main characters and some of the references easier. But if you choose to be boring and not watch the good show, I think you’ll still find the story and characters enjoyable. As a series fan, I love both aspects a lot.

As with the series that came before it, this movie was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, who of course brought his A-game here. His direction is energetic, yet contemplative. Fun, yet dramatic. Of course, if you’re a film buff you can clearly see where he gets a lot of his influences (a lot of westerns and martial arts movies). Which of course brings us to the animation, which is great. Not necessarily Disney or Ghibli great, but still great. It’s fluent, detailed, and quite pleasing to the eye. Especially in the action scenes, which this thing was about. There’s foot chases, fist fights, flying chases, a bit of shooting… really, it’s a nice mix of action. All beautifully animated. The final confrontation in particular is just this highly detailed, lengthy, and brutal scene. And all of these set to the fascinatingly versatile music of Yoko Kanno. Jazz, pop, rock, blues, even a bit of rap, this soundtrack complements the action (and everything inbetween) wonderfully. Makes for some incredibly fun and electrifying sequences.

With an easy to follow story, colorful characters, a fantastic soundtrack, and some incredibly well animated action sequences, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is an absolute treat for fans of the original series, and for people looking for a highly enjoyable animated action movie.

Have a good one.

 

 

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