The enigmatic Vincent Volaju, a disenfranchised man who questions his very existence and the existence of others around him, has a plan. A plan that will see him release a deadly virus on Mars, a virus powerful enough to wipe out all of mankind in a single stroke. Naturally, a huge bounty has been placed on his head and as such, the crew of the Bebop soon find themselves entangled in this enigmatic and rather deadly hunt, one that may just have far more dire consequences that what any of them could have ever imagined.
Faye Valentine, Spike Spiegel, Jet Black and even Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV (known as Ed to her friends) are in a race against time to unravel the mystery of the unfathomable virus and track down this seemingly-all powerful figure before he unleashes his apocalypse on Mars!
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, also known as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in the States, is a 2001 animated feature film based on the hugely popular Sunrise Cowboy Bebop franchise. It is once again directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, the same man who directed the original Cowboy Bebop series as well as the man who eventually went on to give us the awesome Samurai Champloo anime series back in 2004. The screenplay is handled by the well-known Keiko Nobumoto and it features the voice talents of Koichi Yamadera, Unsho Ishizuka and Megumi Hayashibara.
Even if you haven’t seen the original, ground-breaking Cowboy Bebop anime series before, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is still a more than powerful enough movie to hold its own, easily displaying all the characteristics of a great movie without breaking a sweat. A compelling story, great action sequences, likable, interesting and fleshed out to a degree characters, succinct animation, vivid colours and a powerful voice-acting and musical soundtrack makes for a simply fantastic filmographic outing.
The story starts out very nicely, building a solid base for the mystery which is still to come, giving just enough clues and hints to tantalize the viewer as well as introduce the main protagonists. There’s a fair amount of twists, turns and surprises, and the pacing of the story handles all this build up quite superbly. There are quite a number of action sequences to get through as well, and rather than coming through forced, they blend in naturally with the progression of the main storyline and in the end help to accelerate the movie to quite a satisfying, neatly wrapped up conclusion.
Of course, all the hallmarks of the original Cowboy Bebop series are present and accounted for, the witty repartee, the almost too carefree Spike, the amount of attention paid to the eclectic music choice throughout the movie, some deep and probing personal questions, and naturally, Watanabe’s trademark expert usage of flow – the way he accelerates and decelerates various elements of his story in a seemingly completely random manner. All these elements fuse beautifully together, producing in the end a thoroughly entertaining and rewarding watch that packs enough punch to ensure that the viewer is glued to their chair all the way from start to finish!
Visually, the movie can simply be described as absolutely stunning. A lot of detail and extra care has gone into the varied background panels that appear throughout the movie and these painstakingly produced environments mesh seamlessly with the highly detailed and particularly fluid animation of the various character models imposed upon them. The colour pallet too is skillfully applied across the full spectrum, breathing that extra layer of depth into what is already an awesome looking animated film.
In terms of voice acting, the star-studded voice actor cast all deliver absolutely stellar performances with some really solid character portrayals, a necessary feature when you think about just how strong a musical soundtrack they are competing against! As always, the music choice across the entire movie is particularly varied and one gets to experience some wonderfully refined sounds and beats, all of which have been painstakingly singled out as the best match for any one particular scene. Best described as an eclectic soundtrack at best, there is certainly more than enough musical variety to satisfy any hardcore music lover’s taste. (But then again, what were you expecting with a movie whose very title is borrowed off an old Bob Dylan track?!)
So in summary, Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door is really one of those anime movie masterpieces that you should make an effort to see. A particularly well thought out, deep and evocative script, an exciting and enjoyable cast of characters, some extremely strong action sequences and in short, just a fantastic journey from start to finish. If you haven’t seen it then I certainly suggest you make the effort to grab hold of it then.
You won’t be disappointed, that’s for sure! :)