Cowboy Bebop Vol. #1 (Mania.com)
By:Dustin Blaine Javier
Review Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, April 04, 2000
This is my first Alternate Angle review so please bear with me. As my friends can attest I can rant on a bit while on things like anime so I'll try to keep my ramblings down to a minimum.
I'm generally new to the DVD anime market (I swore by LD for the longest time) so I have only a few other titles with which to compare this. Otherwise I've graded this on its own merits.
Ever since first seeing shots of Cowboy Bebop in Animage and Newtype, I knew this was something special. After seeing the first 2 officially subtitled episodes at Otakon 99, I knew I had to have it, but I wasn't going to settle for VHS. Thankfully my wait for a DVD release was not too long, and was it ever worth the wait!!
The first thing that got my attention was having 5 episodes on this disc. You'd never get that on VHS or LD. So in actuality by getting the DVD you're saving money in the long run, since you only get 2 episodes per tape. You of course get the original Japanese track in 2 channel stereo with optional English subtitles or the English dubbed track in what appears to be Dolby Digital 3.0 (which would explain the Dolby Digital demo and logo at the beginning of the disc--normally they only do that for 5.1 surround discs), since, like Chris noted in his review, there is presence in the center channel, but nothing from the rear channels or subwoofer. However, I prefer to switch my DSP and receiver to stereo to get the subwoofer pumping. I'd much rather have an active subwoofer than an active center channel (give them explosions a bit more "OOMPH!!") The dub is excellent by the way, and coming from former dub-hater like me, that's saying a lot. I still prefer the Japanese voices though.
The video quality is superb. There are some digital moire effects on some of the edges of things moving on screen, but they are barely noticeable and few and far between. Switching on "Animation Mode" on my player makes the colors jump off the screen! Lines are clearly defined, but blacks could have been a bit purer. However getting pure blacks in "Animation Mode" is tough to begin with, so I'll forgive them there.
For the packaging, I would have liked some more detailed liner notes, but I keep forgetting. This is DVD. Stuff like that is usually found on the disc itself. I guess after being an Laserphile for so long, old expectations die hard. The box art is rather plain, but that's what they were shooting for. They're trying to fit it in with the "futuristic retro" feeling of the show itself, and I kinda like it.
On the actual program content, this is about the best anime TV series I've seen since Escaflowne. The craftsmen of this show really did their homework. The influences are apparent, like the saloon scene in the first episode; supposedly transplanted from the Antonio Banderas actioner Desperado. Or the Chuch scene in episode 5; highly reminiscent of the Church shodown in John Woo's classic The Killer (even Spike goes in two-fisted guns a blazin'!!) Coupled with a sly sense of humor and a futuristic space ambience make it an absolute must see.
For the extras on the DVD, I wish there were more info for the character descriptions, but the way they are presented are the best I've seen so far (make me look forward anxiousls to see how and if they will have a similar extra on the upcoming Escaflowne DVDs.) However, the credits for each episode seem to be the credits for the dubbed version, as there is no recognition of the Japanese voice talent to be found, nor could I find them anywhere on the disc, packaging or liner notes. I hope they correct this on the following DVDs in the series.
If there's one downer about the show it's the overall "Lupinesque" air about it. Not that that's a bad thing. Far from it!! I love Lupin to death, but this show just makes me long for more Lupin to be released here in the states even more. Something that just seems like its never going to happen. Oh well, perchance to dream I suppose. Overall, you owe it to yourself to see this show and this DVD series is THE definitive way to enjoy it. It's going to be a long wait for the next DVD . . .
Pioneer DVL-919 DVD/LD player, Technics SA-AX720 Receiver, Technics SH-AC500D Digital Surround Processor, JVC AV-27720 27" TV, Klipsh 12" Speakers, Kenwood CRS-158 Center Channel Speaker, Aiwa TS-W5 Powered Subwoofer
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Bandai Entertainment
Running time: 125
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Cowboy Bebop