The Series (5/5)
Cowboy Bebop is a series that I've never seen front to back. I've seen episodes of the series on borrowed VHS tapes from anime loving friends, and obviously on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim over the years, so when the Blu-ray release was announced I knew that if done right the shows unique visual style would look brilliant on the format (spoilers: it really really does), and further knew that I would have to add it to the anime already on my shelf.
Cowboy Bebop is quite possibly the most popular and influential anime series to come out of the late 90's. The series follows Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and the ever expanding crew of their spaceship the Bebop as they traverse the galaxy. The aforementioned pair are respectively an ex-con and and ex-cop and they are now working together in the post-apocalyptic (Earth's apocalypse) universe as unsuccessful bounty hunters. Along the way they are joined by Faye Valentine, also a uber intelligent dog named Ein, and a preteen hacked named Ed.
The show ran for 26 episodes and one film, and does not simply adhere to one genre. In film school I took a class called Sci-Fi/Western where a film from each genre was presented weekly, and the various elements of each were compared for commonalities. Cowboy Bebop takes both of those genres and blends them, but that undersells the show as a concept, because that just offers a starting off point that includes Asian Action, Blaxploitation, Drama, Comedy, and more. Also, of note is the soundtrack to the series which simply but rocks. It blends elements of Jazz, blues, and rock and roll into a hybrid that truly helps to add a certain atmosphere to the whole affair.
The show doesn’t have a story line running through the early episodes as it it more about the adventures the crew of the Bebop experience as they travel the universe. Usually when watching a long form series my mind begins looking for plot elements, but Cowboy Bebop is so much fun in it’s approach that just the single adventures proves to be enough. The action sequences in the show are absolutely top notch affairs, and should get any fan of action cinema’s blood pumping should they not have seen this before.
The characters are quite well drawn, and are a fun bunch to spend 26 episodes with. The animation as stated earlier is quite unique, and looks quite nice especially in this Blu-ray edition.
I will get this out of the way, Funimation's Blu-ray release of Cowboy Bebop is not a simple upscale, but a full on restoration that looks and sounds amazing. The level of detail present on these Blu-ray's is truly stunning, the colors absolutely pop, and the black levels are inky and deep just as they should be. Also, considering these were made with film the Blu-ray has a nice intact grain structure present.
The audio is presented in Dolby True HD 5.1 in Japanese and English. I stuck to the Japanese track for the majority of my viewing, but did dip into the English once or twice for comparative purposes. Both tracks sound fantastic with dialogue and FX coming through quite nicely, and the series iconic score getting a very nice boost.
For the purpose of the review Funimation has presented EuroCultAV.com with the Amazon exclusive edition of Cowboy Bebop. This edition comes in a very nice hard clamshell packaging and contains 2 books one with sketches one with color art. the extras include multiple commentary tracks with the English dub cast, episodic promos, a Remix of the shows theme, a documentary retrospective on the dub sessions, a short called Ein's Summer Vacation and a over an hour long Table Discussion.
Cowboy Bebop is one of the finest anime series to come out of the late 90's. It is an exciting action packed blend of genres, that needs to be seen by both fans of anime, and non-fans alike. The Blu-ray from Funimation looks and sounds fantastic, and the extras offer a lot to much this release over the top. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.