Cowboy Bebop Vol. #2 -

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. #2

By Bryan Morton     May 12, 2005
Release Date: January 24, 2005

Cowboy Bebop Vol. #2
© Beez

What They Say
Spike and Vicious conclude their reunion with a deadly duel. And after that, more mayhem and hilarity await as the crew of t Bebop continues to try and make a living as bounty hunters. As they travel, they will meet a feisty space trucker, make a stop on Venus, and meet up with the great hacker Ed.

Episodes comprise:
6 - Sympathy for the Devil
7 - Heavy Metal Queen
8 - Waltz for Venus
9 - Jamming with Edward
10 - Ganymede Elegy

The Review!
An immortal child, a heavy-metal loving trucker, helping the blind, a genius hacker and a blast from Jet's past - all in a days' bounty hunting for the crew of the Bebop.

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 formatting errors (mainly missed spaces) don't help. There are also a few lines of dialogue where subtitles are missing:
Episode 7 - during the scene where the 'three amigos' are harassing a waitress, and again when VT is explaining the 'guess the name' game to Spike;
Episode 8 - where Faye takes her share of the bounty and heads for the casino.
There's no timecode on the video track.

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 Jet, Spike and Faye at the casino, dressed in formal clothes. On the back is another picture of Spike in his formal gear, 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)
Wen, harmonica-player extraordinaire, hides a secret - he appears to be a child prodigy, but in fact he's been alive for over a hundred years. His body stopped ageing when Earth's moon exploded, and he now lives off the lifeforce of others. Spike's latest target, Giraffe, has good reason to hate Wen, but when a confrontation between Wen and Giraffe results in Giraffe's death, Spike's left to carry out the final wishes of his former target - to save his friend from Wen's clutches. Normally, killing an immortal wouldn't be the easiest of tasks, but Giraffe has left Spike a little bit of help in the form of a mysterious stone.

Moving on, we meet VT, a female in the almost-all-male world of interplanetary trucking, who meets Spike while he and Faye are on the trail of explosives expert (and Woody Allen look-alike) Decker. While they get on well to start with, VT's attitude quickly changes when she discovers that Spike's a bounty hunter, but with Faye's pursuit of Decker quickly turning into a disaster, VT soon becomes their best chance for tracking down their prey.

Next stop for the Bebop is Venus, where Spike and Faye thwart a hijack attempt on a passenger shuttle and actually manage to collect some bounty for once. Spike's display of hand-to-hand combat on the shuttle catches the attention of another passenger, Rocky - once they're on the ground he plagues Spike until he agrees to give him some lessons. While Rocky has his good points - he's been 'working' hard to get his hands on a rare plant that will be the cure for his sister's blindness - his work has led him into contact with some very unsavory characters, and its not long before Spike is drawn into his new protégé's battles.

From Venus to Earth, where Bebop's job is to track down the hacker who's suspected of using orbiting satellites to draw doodles on South America - grafitti on a global scale, it you like. The suspect is Radical Edward - but every person you ask about him gives a different answer as to who or what he is. Ed knows all about the Bebop, though, and has been waiting for it to arrive - looks like Jet's about to get another crew member, whether he likes it or not.

Finally, Jet returns home to Ganymede. While Spike and Faye make the most of their downtime, Jet pays a visit to his old flame, Elise. She used to run a restaurant, but times on Ganymede are hard when Jet arrives - she's just closed her business and is getting ready to start a new life with her current love, Rhint. Things get complicated when Rhint becomes the Bebop crew's latest bounty target.

As usual, each episode in this latest batch of Bebop stands on its own. The focus is very much on the characters, and the introduction of Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky the Fourth ('Ed' from here on in) adds another very different personality to the mix. As the saying goes, never work with children or animals - Jet adds tomboys to the list, giving him a full set of trouble on board his ship with Ed, Ein and Faye. Ed comes across as definitely have a few screws loose - her style of speech and acrobatic antics make her an enjoyable character to just watch, and she definitely adds to the slightly comic feel that runs through a lot of Bebop's stories.

Heavy Metal Queen is the weakest episode on the disc. While the Woody Allen 'cameo' is fun, it's an episode where very little really happens. Spike's no-spacesuit spacewalk also stretches the limits of believability. When part of the show's appeal is the way it presents a believable future, it is a bit jarring when outright unbelievable scenes sneak in.

At the other end of the scale, though, is Ganymede Elegy. Bebop's best moments come when it looks at the pasts of the characters, and this episode is no exception. Jet genuinely doesn't know what he did to lose Elise those many years ago, and there's an air of sadness about him as he meets her again, and later takes on the job of bringing Rhint in. He seems to realise that Rhint isn't a genuinely bad guy, and there's a short speech Jet gives towards the end of the episode, where he gives up any hopes he may have had for Elise and passed the responsibility for caring for her onto Rhint, that is quite touching in its own way.

Overall, it's hard to criticise Cowboy Bebop without feeling like I'm just trying to be picky. It's an outstanding show with a cast of characters that, though flawed, it's hard not to love. While some episodes here aren't great by the show's usual standards, even Bebop's poorest episodes still manage to be good entertainment.

In summary
While the stories are a mix of the good and the not-so-good, Cowboy Bebop remains a show that's fun to watch & presents a believable view of the future. The outstanding characters just make the package complete. A few issues with subtitles and video may concern some people, but overall this is a disc that's well worth picking up.

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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