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: 15 & Up
- Region: 2 - Europe
- Released By: Beez
- MSRP: £19.99
- Running time: 100
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: Cowboy Bebop
Cowboy Bebop Vol. #5
By Bryan Morton
July 11, 2005
Release Date: May 30, 2005
Cowboy Bebop Vol. #5
What They Say
Follow the adventures of Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Ein as they continue their endless search for cash. Along the way, tragedy and triumph await as they navigate their way through the dangers of space and corridors of memory. The hottest anime show only gets hotter as it draws towards its end.
19 - Wild Horses
20 - Pierrot Le Fou
21 - Boogie-Woogie Feng Shui
22 - Cowboy FunkThe Review!
Four more episodes of Cowboy Bebop goodness. While these episodes don't delve into the gang's pasts in the same way earlier ones have, it still makes for some good viewing.Audio:
As with previous volumes, this release features a standard 2.0 stereo mix which makes good use of the left & right channels for both background effects and dialog to add depth to the soundtrack. I listened primarily to the Japanese track and did not notice any problems. Occasional switches to the English track showed it to be of similar quality.Video:
Cowboy Bebop's roller-coaster ride in the video quality department continues, with this volume being one of the better ones. The disc is presented in its original 1.33:1 full-frame format. While there is still some line noise & rainbowing present, it's on a much less noticeable scale than before, and there were no noticeable encoding glitches. This was also the first volume of the series where the opening sequence of each episode was complete - on previous volumes, the first few seconds were missing from each episode. Subtitles use Beez's usual white-on-black font, which is small but readable. While there are still some formatting errors, it's again on a much smaller scale than before. Packaging:
Faye takes centre-stage for the third cover in a row - I'm guessing Beez are taking the 'sex sells' approach with this release, especially with the provocative on-bed pose they've used here. The rear cover features episode summaries and the disc technical information panel, along with a smaller version of the image used on the front.Menu:
Menus are the same as on the previous volumes, mimicking the style of the Cowboy Bebop opening credits, and are backed by the opening theme. 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 as before the background music cuts out very suddenly after about 20 seconds, which feels a bit untidy.Extras:
(please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
The Bebop returns to Earth, and while Spike heads down to the surface to get a much-needed overhaul for the Swordfish, Faye & Jet remain in orbit, hoping to earn some bounty money for bringing in some pirates. Their targets are well prepared though, and soon disable both the Bebop and Faye's ship with a computer virus. Spike's called in as reinforcements once Ed has taken care of the problems, but again their targets are no easy catch - but this time, Spike has been left with no fuel in an orbit that will soon lead to his ship burning up. His only chance for rescue comes in the form of a decidedly 20th-century spacecraft.
If it's not space pirates trying to kill Spike, it's mad clowns - this one answering to the name of Mad Pierrot. He's the demented result of a top-secret experiment by ISSP intended to create the perfect assassin, and while he has been quite effective at taking care of low-life, he's also determined not to leave any witnesses to his actions. When Spike witnesses one of his killings it's the start of a race to kill or be killed, but it's not easy to kill someone who can deflect bullets and fly.
Moving on to Mars, where Jet has traveled to look into a cryptic message he'd received from an old acquaintance, Pao - only to find him apparently deceased. While visiting the grave, he meets Pao's young daughter Meifa, and a group of syndicate members who seem determined to kill her. Meifa's able to decipher Pao's message, leading to a chase through space to find what really happened to Pao - he'd been involved in the syndicates for some time, but had decided it was time to leave. With his former colleagues unwilling to allow that, there's only time for Meifa to meet her father one more time before the syndicate closes in.
Finally, Spike finally meets a bounty hunter who proves to be a challenge to him - even if it's more from ignorance than skill. He's on the trail of Teddy Bomber, a lone terrorist who's been blowing up buildings with bombs disguised as teddy bears. Every time Spike gets close enough to Teddy Bomber to take him down, he's interrupted by Cowboy Andy, a rich kid who has turned to bounty hunting to help pass the time. Problem is, Andy keeps mistaking Spike for the bomber, leading to a lot of tension between the two of them - not to mention there are certain similarities between the two of them that Spike would prefer you didn't mention. All the while, Teddy Bomber gets more and more frustrated with his two would-be captors.
One thing that strikes me about this episode is how spookily life can imitate art - there are two episodes here where events that have happened in the real world since they were made could lead you to look at them a different way, depending on how sensitive you are to such things. First, there's the appearance of the shuttle Discovery in episode 19, where it faces burning up on re-entry after losing some of its heat-resistant tiles, while in episode 22 Teddy Bomber's campaign against high-rise buildings could also be viewed in a darker light now than when it was made. But this is Cowboy Bebop, which really deserves to be taken in a much lighter way.
Starting with the less impressive episodes, Boogie Woogie Feng Shui and Wild Horses both fall below Bebop's usual high standards and aren't quite as engaging as they could be. I'm always a bit wary of any story that involves computer viruses - working with computers in my day-job has completely destroyed my ability to suspend disbelief in that area, and while Wild Horses had one or two fun scenes there wasn't really enough to it to keep my attention. Feng Shui is something else that doesn't quite make it past the "yeah, right" filter, but I have to admit that the scenes where Spike, Faye and Ed are trying to figure out Jet's relationship to Meifa ("Lovechild?") made that episode almost worthwhile. It also gave a glimpse of a more caring side to Jet that you don't really get to see often.
Mad Pierrot takes the award for most unfortunate end for a bad guy that I've seen in a while, but for most of episode 20 he's almost the most dangerous and deadly enemy that Spike's had to face, with a single-minded determination that could put Vicious to shame. There are some great action scenes in this episode, and overall it's definitely the highlight of the volume. Cowboy Andy, meanwhile, provides the comic relief with his goofball attitude and general all-round cluelessness. Anyone who keeps his horse in his room with him just isn't right. As well as Andy's general attitude and Teddy Bomber's eternal quest to find someone he can explain his cause to, a lot of the fun here comes from spotting the similarities between Spike and Andy - something Faye and Jet can't help but notice themselves - and it's great to watch.In Summary:
Two average episodes are well countered by two very good ones, which between them provide the mix of comedy and action that I've come to expect from Cowboy Bebop. With this disc suffering a lot less from the technical glitches that previous volumes have had, there's nothing to stop me from giving this volume a wholehearted recommendation.
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles
Panasonic TX-W28R30P 28" widescreen TV; Pioneer DV-626D player; Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.