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Review: Cowboy Bebop (Volume 2) (1999) Manga | My Reviews 12 APR 2012

Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 features all new chronicles on the famous exploits of the hapless Bebop crew Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong Ha (well… just Ed) and Ein. Bound by convenience, driven by woolongs, and usually starving, this quirky quintet may, or may not, get their bounty, but they’ll pursue it with vigor and tenacity… or at least that’s what an MBC TV producer wants to see when she does a story on them.

Annoyingly, the only two manga titles that were released for Sunrise’s hit show Cowboy Bebop weighed in at a measly two volumes and then three volumes respectively, and worse still, they were primarily targeted to shoujo, i.e. females aged 10 to 18 and fans of science fiction.

In other words, Cowboy Bebop Volume 2 by author Hajime Yatate and artist Yutaka Nanten failed to capture my attention, the end result being me not enjoying the books and thus not willing to give it a great score.

Of course, you could always say that I’m being unfair considering this isn’t being targeted to me, but unfortunately for you, these additional two facts help strengthen my view: a) The decision to write in a short story format (volume 2 is made up of 5 separate stories!) means no continuity, rushed conclusions and setup, and just no chance to actually build on characters which we came to love via the television anime run, and b) Yutaka Nanten’s artwork, though competent for the most part, does often come across rushed and sometimes to stylistically forced – heck, there are times she’ll simply not draw in character faces for no reason other than it made sense to herself at the time to do so! So not pleasing on the art front either then.

In case you’re interested, here is a breakdown what is contained in Volume 2:

She’s a Rainbow: Rachel M. Kazuki, a reporter for MBC TV wants to do a feature on bounty hunters, or as she calls them “Outlaw heroes. Rebels on the edge of society.” Faye negotiates a deal with Rachel, allowing her to interview the crew of the Bebop for a price, but when a bounty comes up Rachel wants to be first on the scene.

Great Deceiver: When Jet’s old ISSP friend, Bob, gives the crew a lead on a new bounty it becomes a personal job for Faye. The perp is Linda Wise, the woman who taught Faye how to become a hustler and con artist. She used to say that the first rule of hustling was to “win your keep and move on.”

Bebop Special Short: Jet has a cold and no one knows how to cure him. Spike and Faye go searching for scallions on Earth to help Jet but instead they get chased through a swamp and catch colds on their own.

Thinking Bird, Happy Song: Jet takes Edward shopping for food but she gets hungry and tries to eat an old man’s pet bird in a marketplace. An assassin has been commissioned to kill the same old man but Edward foils his plans without realizing it.

Like a Rolling Stone: Spike goes to a wild west town and meets an enchanting guitar player named Allison who offers to help him find his next bounty: her deadbeat father.

Yup, that’s too many stories in one little book.

So the end result is that just like the first volume in this series, the short story format is just too weak, making the book less engaging and thus less interesting. If you want a Cowboy Bebop fix, rather go and re-watch the exceptional television series or excellent movie that started it all in the first place!

Not worth picking up, even if you are a die hard fan.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_Bebop

Review: Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door Anime | My Reviews 17 JUL 2009

Cowboy Bebop Knockin on Heavens DoorThe 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! :)

Cowboy Bebop Cast
Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_Bebop:_The_Movie

Cowboy Bebop (Volume 1) Manga | My Reviews 22 DEC 2007

Cowboy Bebop Having ground earth into a hovel for only the basest beast to roam, humanity has colonized the solar system, opening up virgin frontiers into which gangsters, thugs and crooks can sink their sinister claws. It’s too much for the Inter Solar System Police to handle. So most of the time, these aberrations on the lily-white face of civilization have to be brought to justice by bounty hunters. And the best bounty hunters in the great vacuum of space call their home the Bebop. Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward Wong Hau Pepelu Tirusky IV (Ed for short), and their data dog Ein cruise from one side of sol to the other, hoping to land a bounty big enough to feed their thrill of adventure as well as their typical empty stomachs, These are the chronicles of the Bebop crew, taking out crime Woolong at time.

I doubt there is any anime-fan created during the 90’s who haven’t heard of Cowboy Bebop, one of the seminal anime shows ever to grace the silver screen. It fused together genres completely unheard of, giving us a jazzy, noir space adventure unlike anything that had ever come before. Cowboy Bebop, the manga, was created after the show aired, basically hoping to cash in on its success. Written by Hajime Yatate and drawn by Yutaka Nanten, Cowboy Bebop consists of four short, unrelated stories, each detailing a separate adventure undertaken by the crew of the Bebop.

The stories aren’t of particularly high quality, and apart from the last one which takes a brief look at Jet Black’s past, the manga doesn’t contain anything close to character development for any of the characters whatsoever. In fact, this manga is purely intended for those already familiar with the Bebop universe and mainly for those die-hard fans that can’t get enough of Spike and the crew.

Artistically, Cowboy Bebop leaves a lot to be desired. Yutaka Nanten’s work comes along as very sparse and overly inked using too think lines that makes the art seem even more simple than what it already is. The facial expressions and body proportions aren’t that great, and to be honest, the art in Cowboy Bebop comes across a little jarring at times.

This manga translation of the hit anime series loses the style and atmosphere created by the anime thanks to its brilliant soundtrack and inspired, fluid artwork and in is really just a poor rip-off of the source, intended to be nothing more than a gap-filler for those really hungry otaku fans.

It’s not a great manga and if you are looking for something to read, I’d suggest looking a little further before picking up Cowboy Bebop.

Related link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cowboy_bebop