Cowboy Bebop Vol. #1 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: N/A
  • Age Rating: 12 & Up
  • Region: 2 - Europe
  • Released By: Beez
  • MSRP: £19.99
  • Running time: 125
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop Vol. #1

By Bryan Morton     January 24, 2006
Release Date: January 24, 2005

Cowboy Bebop Vol. #1
© Beez

What They Say
Meet Spike and Jet, a drifter and retired cyborg cop who have formed a partnership in a bounty hunting enterprise. In a converted fishing ship the Bebop, with the help of the intelligent data dog, Ein, and the voluptuous and vexing femme fatale, Faye Valentine, Spike and Jet scour the galaxy in search of wanted criminals. They're going to clean up space, one bounty at a time.

Episodes Comprise
1 - Asteroid Blues
2 - Stray Dog Strut
3 - Honky Tonk Woman
4 - Gateway Shuffle
5 - Ballad of Fallen Angels

The Review!
The first volume of Cowboy Bebop gives the world its first meeting with an unusual group of bounty hunters…

The soundtrack is provided in both English & Japanese stereo versions. I listened mainly in the original Japanese, dipping into the English track from time to time. Both soundtracks are clean and clear, with no obvious problems. Good use is made of the front channels to give a decent amount of directionality to both vocals and effects.

The series is presented in its original 1.33:1, full-screen format, and makes great use of colours and backgrounds to create a brilliantly-realised world. For the most part the picture quality is good, although there's a noticeable amount of shimmer on sharp lines and detailed areas, while rainbows can be seen in some scenes. The subtitles use white-on-black text. The font used is quite small and not the easiest to read - a few small formatting errors (mainly missed spaces) & some rather more noticeable un-subtitled lines of dialogue don't help.

Coming in a standard black keepcase, this release's cover uses a lot more colour than its Region 1 counterpart. On the front cover is a picture of Faye in a particularly moody pose, with Spike in the background. The back cover repeats the image of Faye, along with episode summaries, screenshots and a technical information panel.

The disc menus mimic the style of the Cowboy Bebop opening credits, and are backed by the opening theme. Be prepared for a bit of a wait while the initial animation runs before you can actually select anything. Submenus are provided for 'Bonus' material (a few Beez trailers), language setup & chapter select, using the same background music & presentational style as the main menu. They're responsive & intuitive to use, although the background music cuts out very suddenly after about 20 seconds, which feels a bit untidy.


Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
Meet Spike Speigel and Jet Black, bounty hunters - Jet's an ex-cop, while Spike's past is entirely more shady, and thanks at least in part to Spike's tendency to leave a trail of destruction behind him, profits have been slim. Their ship, a converted fishing rig called the Bebop, gives them the ability to travel throughout the Solar System in their seemingly never-ending search for an easy bounty.

Each episode of Cowboy Bebop stands pretty much on its own. The series opens with Spike and Jet on the trail of Asimov Solensan, a dealer in the highly dangerous and addictive drug Red Eye & with enough of a bounty on his head to make him a worthwhile target. A chance meeting brings Spike to Asimov's partner - she's quite the charmer, which almost proves to be Spike's undoing. The episode sets out the show's stall quite well, with a mix of well-animate action sequences and quieter moments to give both characters and audience a chance to reflect on events.

While Spike and Jet start the series working as a twosome, things don’t stay that way for long. The first new "crewmember" is a Welsh corgi by the name of Ein, who arrives on the ship in episode two. Ein's a top-secret, experimental "data dog" who is far more intelligent than he looks (and probably smarter than the rest of the Bebop crew, if truth be told). He was stolen from a research lab by Abdul Hakim, the latest bounty the Bebop is after, and Jet finds himself adopting the dog after their attempt to capture Hakim meets with their usual level of success.

Also introduced on this volume are Faye Valentine, the heavily-indebted "femme fatale", and Vicious, a syndicate member & former associate of Spike who more than lives up to his name. Faye finds herself joining the Bebop more through circumstance than planning - she certainly didn't seem to ask Jet or Spike - and her insatiable need for money looks set to cause the other two more than a little trouble in future. Vicious operates very much to his own agenda - his first appearance shows him mounting a bloody coup against the leaders of his syndicate, with his aim being to make sure the syndicate doesn't take a less violent path in its dealings. He seems to have some sort of vendetta against Spike which is touched upon in episode five but isn't really explained in depth just yet.

Bebop is one of those series that manages to do both style and substance equally well. While the stories are mostly standalone pieces, they nearly always do a good job of pressing the right emotional buttons at just the right time, be it for more reflective moments (such as Jet trying to explain to Spike that Vicious has almost certainly laid a trap for him), to the funnier side of things. The characters themselves are also an instantly likeable group with a good amount of depth to them.

You can't talk about Cowboy Bebop without mentioning the music. The series soundtrack has been scored by Yoko Kanno, who has created a truly wonderful jazz backing for the series that is really one of the highlights of the show. Between slow and moody pieces during quieter moments to some wonderfully upbeat pieces during action scenes, a lot of the atmosphere of this show comes from the music. It's almost worth buying just for that alone.

In Summary:
Bebop is one of those anime classics that really doesn't need much introduction, and is one of only a few highly-hyped shows that really does live up to its reputation. It's great fun to watch, with a cast of characters you just have to love. Add a setting that presents a believable vision of the future, an outstanding soundtrack and stories that are easy to get into, and you have a series that’s easy to recommend.

Japanese Language 2.0,English Language 2.0,English Subtitles

Review Equipment
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.


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