Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Type: Movie
Genre: Action/drama
Version: Region 1 DVD
Reviewed: 10/22/03


Cowboy Bebop is certainly one of the most unique and revolutionary anime series in existence. Its episodic nature made sure that no two episodes were too much like one another, and used a strong, musically connected overlying theme to create every episode in likeness of a different film and/or music style. From the Desperado-like “Asteroid Blues” to the Batman-esque “Pierrot Le Fou” to the autobiography fashion of “Toys in the Attic,” each episode was given special attention, and modeled after something completely different—often a famous movie. So many diverse styles making up the series may have posed the question, “So what would a Cowboy Bebop movie be like?” Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door answers that question.

Screen Shot
True Bebop style.

Of course, the series did come right out and tell us “The work which becomes a new genre itself will be called Cowboy Bebop,” so from this, one could have gathered that the one-of-a-kind style CB developed from the mix and match makeup of the televised saga would be used in movie form. That’s exactly what happened. Instantly, CB veterans will recognize the cast simply going about their daily business of tracking bounty heads all over earth and space in the action-packed way that helped put Bebop on the map. The joy of seeing Spike, Jet, Faye, Ed, and Ein in movie form brings an amazing joy to the very inner parts of a Cowboy Bebop fan’s soul.

The plot starts, as mentioned, with the tracking of a bounty head. In this particular instance, we see Faye in her ship stalking an 18-wheeler driven by her target. Suddenly, the truck crashes, and a man who looks nothing like the person Faye thought she was following steps out and leaves the scene. Shortly thereafter, and explosion rocks the streets, and it is later discovered that the truck was carrying a deadly virus. Now confused about what exactly is going on between their original bounty and the man in the truck, the Bebop crew is determined to get to the bottom of this perplexing mystery and bag those responsible for these acts of terror. But as usual, they’ll only do it if there’s a nice sum of Woolongs (money) attached.

Screen Shot
Some very intense scenes.

Unlike many movies based on an anime series, this one does not take place after the series’ end. It actually takes place (according to fans) between episodes 22 and 23 of the show. That doesn’t have much to do with the review—just a neat piece of info.

The animation in this movie is stunningly pleasant, and it made this reviewer quite happy to see that the makers of this movie didn’t cut any corners. As would be expected, the movie improves on the show’s already-good looks. Meanwhile, Yoko Kanno’s musical mastery shines even brighter than before. She returns to prove she can compose great music for any situation with the pieces used in Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.

Also a returning figure from the series, Shinchiro Watanabe is back in the director’s role. For a Cowboy Bebop movie, there is no one I’d rather have steering the ship than the man that helped make the series so great. Like Kanno, Watanabe does a fantastic job with his contribution. I often smiled while watching this film, because I, as a prospective filmmaker myself, found the purest joy in watching a master at work. I have no doubt that you will appreciate the direction in Cowboy Bebop: The Movie as well.

The action in this movie is some of the best of the Cowboy Bebop crop. All the cool fighting, intense chases, and of course, wacky “Edward-isms” that generated so much love for the show are back in full force for this thrilling adventure of a movie. While there is a short gap right in the middle of the movie when plot politics completely take over, meaning younger viewers might get a little bored, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door remains a superb film and a credit to animated movies.

-Heath Hindman