Cowboy Bebop Vol. #2 (Mania.com)
By:Dustin Blaine Javier
Review Date: Thursday, February 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, June 06, 2000
This series exemplifies my love/hate relationship (it's mostly love though!) with anime. I love it for it is such a great form of storytelling and art, with footholds in just about every genre. Yet, I sometimes hate it for the fact that a lot of them come in lengthy series which can drain a bank account and max out credit cards. Cowboy Bebop fits on both sides of the coin.
Now that I got that out of my system, on with the review of Session 2 DVD! On the technical side, this disc is much improved over the previous outing. The video is nigh immaculate!! The MPEG-type pixellation that was present on 1st Session is all but gone save for less than a handful of barely noticeable occurrences. Colors are even more vivid, lines more finely detailed and extremely good black levels throughout. I can't imagine seeing a picture much clearer than this. Throw this in a Progressive Scan DVD player on a 720p monitor, and my eyes would probably start bleeding.
Audio is another major achievement for this disc. Rather than the bland DD 3.0 mix for the English Language track and Stereo for the Japanese track like the first disc, we are treated to, not one, but two Matrix Surround soundtracks!! Yeppers, both Languages are in Matrix Dolby Surround. When Dolby Pro Logic encoded you are treated to a 4.0 soundfield (Center, L and R front and L and R surround) with subwoofer support. Almost all the dialogue on both tracks come from the center channel. Most of your effects such as echoes, bullet ricochets and extra sound for explosions are driven monophonically to the surround channels.
I found that the English track had more bass punch and more dimensionality with the surrounds. That makes it a hard viewing option for me, for I usually prefer the Japanese Language over the English (despite the dub being very good--just like the first disc), but I do want a better soundfield to put me in the center of the action.
The menu is unchanged from the first, which is not a bad thing. The extras could have been very cool; if they were not so seemingly truncated. I usually like interviews with staff members, but if it's this short it's kind of like a teaser more than anything. Kawamori explaining hypergates was cool though. The subtitled translation for the interviews are the soft type. They run the question and the beginning of the answers on the screen so fast that even a subtitle-reading pro like me had a bit of a problem reading them! That's ok though. That's what they made review buttons for.
To the content of the episodes. "Sympathy for the Devil" was another dark episode that also teases us with another glimpse of Spike's past. If you read my review for 1st Session, you will remember the classic anime which I feel this series pays homage to in spades by the atmosphere. Well another homage to the same anime is given in this episode. If you'll notice the suit that Wen is wearing in the warehouse scene, you might be reminded of a suit that a certain 3rd generation French jewel thief wears frequently.
In "Heavy Metal Queen" we are introduced to a another breed of solar system wanderers in the space truckers. Of them is a girthy woman named "VT." She gets embroiled in a bounty hunt with Spike and Faye, while complaining how she hates bounty hunters. This episode basically explores Spike's character yet again and tries to get under his gruff, yet playful exterior. Even though he stated in the second episode that he hates pets, he didn't seem to mind when VT's cat Zelos warmed up to him. We even get to see our three elderly stooges again here!
"Waltz For Venus" is an almost tear-jerker. We meet a guy, seemingly a smuggler of some kind at first, named Roco, to whom Spike begrudgingly gives some Jeet Kune Do lessons. Spike even echoes the words of the immortal Bruce Lee: "Be water my friend . . ." By the end of this episode, Spike's gruffness melts away even more. Escaflowne fans take note: Maya "Hitomi" Sakamoto has a cameo in this episode. Another milestone for this episode, the Bebop crew actually gets paid!!
"Jamming With Edward" introduces another new crew member to the Bebop in Edward. I'm not even going to try to write down her entire name! Though it's unclear as to why Edward wanted to join the Bebop crew (I can't see why, they almost never get paid) she does seem like a pretty cool character.
The final episode on this platter, "Ganymede Elegy" is another almost tear-jerker. Here we are given a look into a bit of Jet's past as well as an old flame of his. I really feel for Jet in this episode. It doesn't seem like he got what he deserves.
Lastly, it seems like whoever does the content of the discs read my review of the last volume where I complained of the lack of recognition of the Japanese actors. Well this time they did include them. Now how about including credits for both languages? Does one set of actors deserve more credit than the other? Most otaku would argue, yes, in favor of the Japanese talent, but I tend to think otherwise. The English voice talent got paid for doing their job, and they did their job with great expertise as far as I'm concerned. Let's not leave anyone out, OK?
Overall this series keeps getting better and better as does the level of quality on the DVDs. If a series as good as Cowboy Bebop came along every year, I'd be one otaku with a permanent grin on his face (and an empty bank account!)
Pioneer DVL-919 DVD/LD Player, Technics SA-AX720, Receiver, Technics SH-AC500D Digital Surround Processor, Toshiba 27" Color TV, Klipsh, 12" Speakers, Kenwood CRS-158 Center Channel Speaker, Optimus Pro-LX511 360 Degree-Firing Speakers, Jensen JHS623T Tower Speakers, 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