A review of “Cowboy Bebop, The Movie” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for violence and strong language

Run Time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

 

 

Fans of Japanese anime rejoice. The enormously popular Japanese TV show “Cowboy Bebop” (a late-late-night staple on cable’s Cartoon Network) has been reworked into a mildly intriguing feature length film, with mostly positive results.

It’s Halloween Eve, circa 2071.  A tanker trailer has exploded on Highway One in a Mars crater, killing or injuring hundreds of unlucky souls.  The damage from the explosion extends well beyond the crash site, leading those in the know to suspect biological and/or chemical weaponry. 

Good ship Bebop to the rescue, lured by the thrill of the chase and a $300 million reward. Honorary bounty cowboys Spike Seigel (voice of Steven Jay Blum), Jet Black (voice of Beau Billingslea), and brainiac bounty hunter Faye Valentine (voice of Wendee Lee and body courtesy of Jessica Rabbit) take to the skies in search of the evil Vincent Volaju (voice of Daran Norris), who’s scheming to poison the earth’s water supply with a nanotech plague --- microscopic robots that invade the human body and perform their dirty deeds from the inside out.

The long and complicated storyline may be easier to decode for cartoon fans, but the visually arresting animation is more than enough to compensate when narrative confusion threatens to overwhelm.  Gorgeously crafted fight sequences exploding in “Blade Runner” cityscapes underneath Dali-esque skies are a marvel of anime technology. This dystopian atmosphere makes for agreeably edgy cinema.