Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
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- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Bandai Entertainment
- MSRP: 29.99
- 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 Jme Wheeler
February 07, 2002
Release Date: April 04, 2000
Okay, I know there are already a whole bunch of Cowboy Bebop reviews up on the site, but I like this show so much, I thought I would just add one more.
I'm sure that all of you reading this have probably already read at least some of the the other reviews; at least Chris'. So I'm not going to bother going over the plots of each episode too thoroughly, except when illustrating a point.
Even with all of the things that the show does well, I think there are two that stand above all else. The first thing is the music. I think music is one of those things that gets overlooked in anime. It happens all the time in video games as well. It seems like nowadays studios will use any old boring techno soundtrack just to fill the backgrounds. Now this isn't to say that there aren't other shows that make good use of music. Trigun, Sakura Wars, and Macross Plus all do that very well. Music should be used to help tell the story. As this show demonstrates, the music can greatly enhance the entire anime watching experience. It helps draw you into the world of Cowboy Bebop. Of course, to some of us this is really no surprise. Yoko Kanno is one of the best anime music composers around, having also done the music for the aforementioned Macross Plus.
One of the great things about a great deal of the music in Cowboy Bebop is that it's very American, the very birthplace of the cowboy. The harmonicas, banjos, and particularly steel guitars help give many of the songs a western feel. They evoke images of vast places and freedom to go anywhere; something the show does very well. Also, there are songs, such as the opening theme "Tank" that are very much Jazz influenced. I myself am a great fan of Jazz, and believe in its importance as a foundation of almost all modern music. As Jazz is uniquely American in invention, this helps to add the American flare also carried on with the southwestern and blues offerings from the soundtrack.
In addition to these types of western songs found on the soundtrack are a plethora of other types of music ranging from ska to classical to rock. All of these things are used skillfully within the series' episodes to create a truly entertaining result. And the best part of all of this is that with DVD audio, you don't have to miss a moment of the quality soundtrack.
The second thing that I find to be of particular interest is the the visual presentation itself. Being a fan of anime since the mid eighties, I have a great appreciation for the shows of that time. The character designs for this show have a very retro kind of look to them. The animation itself is very slick, which has become the standard for today's anime. But the the characters themselves have a very distinct 80s look to them. Most noticeably in the main character, Spike Spiegel. From his hair to his suit, long time anime fans will know what I'm talking about. This all gives the show a nice blend of old and new, something a lot of shows are lacking. I think many new shows feel they have to forge ahead, forgetting the shows of old. Not to say that this is always to a negative result, just that it's nice to see a studio give a nod to the precursors.
Visually, the show delivers, presenting a wide range of people and places, giving viewers a little taste of everything. The action sequences are some of the best I've seen in a very long time. Whether it's the vehicular space chases or the the incredibly well choreographed fight sequences, things are always kept exciting. This first disc in particular spans the entire gamut of episode types. From the seedy first episode to the rather humorous second involving a robot dog and the biggest afro this side of "Shaft" and on to the the visually arresting fifth episode in which Spike confronts a ghost from his past. All of these things add up to a real thrill.
The other thing about the episodes is that even though they are chronological, you needn't necessarily watch them in order to enjoy them. They can be taken individually or as a whole. Either way its definitely a worthwhile and entirely entertaining experience. So any of you out there looking for a new series to try out, this is seriously one to consider. Thanks for reading! Enjoy!
Sony DVPS300 DVD Player, Sony STR-DE325 Dolby Digital reciever, Sharp Cinema Select 36" TV, Jensen CS 312 speakers