A vagabond swordsman is aided by a beautiful ninja girl and a crafty spy in confronting a demonic clan of killers - with a ghost from his past as their leader - who are bent on overthrowing the Tokugawa Shogunate.
In the year 2032, Batô, a cyborg detective for the anti-terrorist unit Public Security Section 9, investigates the case of a female robot--one created solely for sexual pleasure--who slaughtered her owner.
The year is 2071. Following a terrorist bombing, a deadly virus is released on the populace of Mars and the government has issued a 300 million woo-long reward, the largest bounty in history, for the capture of whoever is behind it. The bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop; Spike, Faye, Jet and Ed, take the case with hopes of cashing in the bounty. However, the mystery surrounding the man responsible, Vincent, goes deeper than they ever imagined, and they aren't the only ones hunting him. The original creators of the virus have dispatched Electra to deal with Vincent and take out anyone who may stumble on the truth behind him. As the hunt for the man with no past and no future continues to escalate, they begin to question what about the world is reality and what is a dream as the line between sanity and insanity becomes more apparent. Written by
Guest directors include Hiroyuki Okiura and Tensai Okamura, who directed the opening and the "Western film-within-the-film" respectively. Shinichirô Watanabe chose to use guest directors as those sections were quite different from the body of the film; and also because of the time restrictions. See more »
Numerous grammatical and spelling errors on computer screens (this was a loose translation by the Japanese crew). See more »
Of the days that I have lived, only those I spent with you seemed real.
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As the credits roll we see Aruba City during the rain and several of the characters from the film. See more »
compromise between appeal to both "cowboy" faithful and neophyte
"Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door" is an animated feature based on a tv anime series (released on DVD) that has gained quite a following on both sides of the Pacific. It is interesting to note how Mr. Watanabe manages to pull off a balancing act required to satisfy both the loyal following of the tv series, to whom the introduction of principal characters and setting would be redundant, and to those who are relatively new to the "Cowboy Bebop" universe, of which I am the latter.
To those not well versed in the "Cowboy Bebop" lore, it takes some time to get familiar with various featured characters. The film begins in the same fashion as any of its self-contained tv episode would, in that not a lot of exposition is provided for grasping the setting. The characters are more or less introduced as 'bounty hunters' and that is as much of a background the film lets on before establishing the main plot.
It is not too much of a setback not to be given any opportunity to become attached to any of the characters. They are there to simply convey various scenes of the main plot and arrange them into place before they culminate into an oft-tread climax. The plot is briskly disclosed (rather literally spelled out by dialogue, no implication) and turns out to be a fairly mundane yarn that does not break any new ground in narrative nor provide any catalyst for any interesting character development or revelation.
The symbolism and nuance that are laid thick in colorful locales and poignant sceneries may merit repeat viewings to appreciate them; a careful analysis of the film brings another level of enjoyment to overall experience. Also relationships between the characters and circumstantial developments of the plot seem to rely too impulsively on coincidence, not mindful of what the viewer is meant to discern. This could be attributed to attempting to weave a credible plot involving diverse elements and subplots in a limited frame of time, or it could have been something else relevant in the context of the "Cowboy Bebop" tv series. Some have suggested that this film is nothing but a figurative dream, in which the main character confronts the guilt of his past to help him proceed to his ultimate fate in the last remaining episodes of the tv series.
If that was the case, then the film ends up being not as complete or entertaining to the "Cowboy Bebop" novices as it would have been for those well acquainted with the tv series. To that effect, it is rather disappointing.
"Cowboy Bebop" features lush animation that features some of the most impressive displays of action sequences put to cel, particularly the confrontation at the medical lab between Spike and Electra, not to mention the prolonged martial no-holds-barred showdown between Vincent and Spike. The character designs are fairly distinct and varied, although in some instances they linger a bit too long on stereotypical depiction of some races. The details given to many of the locales are unsurpassed in their variety and ambience; it is a testament to how artists went as far as to include references to mainstream culture, dotting the background with "WcDonald's" and "Kodac" (although I am lead to believe such play on words is the Japanese equivalent of product placement).
The music is another highlight of the film, which is not unexpected of Yoko Kano, who is a renowned composer of anime soundtrack who have previously lent her resourceful talents to other popular anime such as "Macross Plus" (another collaboration with the director Watanabe). The compact blend of blues and jazz heightens the urgent mood and graces slower parts with an equally effective repertoire. I don't know about others, but I did not mind the dubbing of the film too much. Maybe because the voices are supported by a script that is partially altered to bring out genuine emotion to the dialogue and to resolve colloquial barriers between the languages.
"Cowboy Bebop: Knocking on Heaven's Door" is a good standard action romp that is further enhanced by superb animation, equally enjoyable music, and more or less succeeds both as a tribute to the series' fans and a good introduction of the series to those who might be interested in one of the better anime licenses to have come ashore. Recommended.
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