Another day, another bounty—such is the life of the often unlucky crew of the Bebop. However, this routine is interrupted when Faye, who is chasing a fairly worthless target on Mars, witnesses an oil tanker suddenly explode, causing mass hysteria. As casualties mount due to a strange disease spreading through the smoke from the blast, a whopping three hundred million woolong price is placed on the head of the supposed perpetrator.
With lives at stake and a solution to their money problems in sight, the Bebop crew springs into action. Spike, Jet, Faye, and Edward, followed closely by Ein, split up to pursue different leads across Alba City. Through their individual investigations, they discover a cover-up scheme involving a pharmaceutical company, revealing a plot that reaches much further than the ragtag team of bounty hunters could have realized.
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door is a great addition to the Cowboy Bebop series, but no more. It is by no means a sequel, and after watching it, I found that it's best watched in the middle of the series, and not neccesarily at the end. If it's got a specific place or not, that I don't know, but that's not very important at any rate, and if you've watched the entire series, it shouldn't be hard to mentally place it inside the series anyway.
This time, a terrorist possesses a weapon capable of killing countless people, and there's a bounty of 300 million
woolongs on him; the largest bounty ever given. Of course, this means that our heroes will chase him. And so starts the process of gathering information, meeting and getting to know people related to the bounty in some way, and eventually, squaring off against him in a final fight. Oh, and throw in a save-the-world thing this time, and there you have the movie. Nothing really new, a formula that's been used several times. There's also details here and there left unexplained, and things may just happen for no reason at the rare occasion. Its 120 minutes might be a little too long to some, but it never came off as boring at any point to me; they certainly did a good job of fleshing out those 120 minutes.
Though, that may be credited more to the characters than the plot itself, as the movie threw some really interesting characters at us. The orignal cast is, well, pretty much the same as they always are, the same characters which you (probably) got to love while watching the original series. As for the movie characters, we have for example Vincent, the main bad guy. He's quite the interesting fellow, though the more I think about it, the more I can't help but feel that I've experienced his type somewhat before - he's got a mysterious past; a forgotten love included, he's going to kill loads of people for no good reason, and he blathers out sentences about religion and whatnot. Nevertheless, he comes off as an interesting character, mostly because of him being similar to Spike - both in physical prowess and their considering themselves 'dead' men due to past events. Then we have Electra, Vincent's past love once forgotten. She remembers him though, and well, she wants him to remember her as well. We can see where that's heading...
The animation quality is superb; its detail and overall quality is unmistakably a work done by people who knows what they are doing. Be it backgrounds or landscapes, they're all top-notch. Lighting effects are good, and more than I'd exect from something out of 2001, and the overall quality of special effects are great; much, much better than the original series. The character designs are the same old, with some improvements, and they work very well with this anime and movie. The character motions and their fluidity are great, and the few action scenes in the movie are done so well that I could probably learn some nice figthing moves merely from studying them. The coloring is the only thing that's a bit behind, but considering its age it's not a problem. And moreso, the dulled coloring actually melds perfectly with the style of the movie, and helps on the movie's atmosphere.
The soundtrack is what you should expect from the original series; awesome. Yoko Kanno does her work as she did in the series; with an amazing soundtrack that fits perfectly with the atmosphere of the movie and its individual scenes, and the opening and ending themes are wonderful to listen to. The only downside is that there is a lot of silent scenes, where no background music is present at all.
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' On Heaven's Door is a movie that delivers the goods, but stops at that. It's not marvelous, but it's great, and a must-see movie for any Cowboy Bebop fan.
Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door was released in Japan on September 1st, 2001. Shinichiro Watanabe stayed on as director, and it was produced this time by not only Sunrise, but also Bandai Visual (famous for their work on the .hack series and Dennou Coil), and Bones (famous for their work on Fullmetal Alchemist and Ouran High School Host Club). It was released Stateside by Bandai on August 11th, 2002.
It's just a few days before Halloween on Ganymede, a major national holiday, and a terrorist has blown up a tanker filled with a biochemical weapon. The government posts a 300 million Wulong
bounty for the terrorist, and the Bebop crew just decides to go after it. But the more they investigate, the deeper the rabbit hole seems to go...
Yes, to answer any questions ahead of time, this is not a sequel; it takes place between episodes twenty-two and twenty-three. It's not quite what I was expecting, admittedly, but it's still a pretty good plot. It could've been fit in the series as a two or three part episode, and apparently Wantanabe had wanted to originally, but he couldn't have gotten away with it on TV.
The visuals for this are absolutely beautiful; the animation got an update in the three years since the show had aired, and things are definitely smoother than they were in the show. There's an even more unprecedented amount of detail in this, and it's absolutely beautiful.
Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts came back to do work on the music again, and it's just as awesome and catchy as it was in the series. I found myself humming a few of the songs after it was done.
All the seiyuu and the voice actors were able to return for the movie, which just adds t o the awesomeness of the movie in general. And the dub for this was actually fairly accurate, which surprises me, as this was released Stateside a little over a year after 9/11, and a few days before the 9/11 attacks over in Japan.
All in all, a pretty good movie, with a good plot and unprecedented detail and smoother animation, if not what I was expecting.
I'm never that comfortable with films of series. Mostly, that's because all too often a film of a series consists of some kind of edited-all-to-hell clip show that tries and totally fails to boil down the story of a long series to a relatively much shorter film. Knockin' on Heaven's Door isn't that, which is very much in its favour. Rather, it's basically like a two-hour "lost episode" that belongs somewhere in the middle of the series - without spoiling anything, by the end of the series, there's characters missing who are still present in this film.
Another point in the film's favour
is that it's pretty much equally accessible for existing fans and those unfamiliar with the characters. While there's plenty of details that might be lost or not fully comprehensible for new viewers, by and large the film stands up well as a stand alone drama, introducing its characters and their situation. However, this in a way exposes another major weakness of films of series. Series are, by nature, episodic. They devote an episode to introducing a character or exploring their personalities. Once this is done, they generally have plot episodes, in which the main thrust of the series is pursued, and then they have one-shot episodes that have our characters in some kind of interesting situation, but which is basically unrelated to the plot - if there is one. Films, by contrast, do all of this at once. The proceedure is totally different, and a director or scriptwriter used to a series format adapts less well to a film format. Knockin' on Heaven's Door exemplifies this - while the film as it is works, it's more obvious and cumbersome than a film directed by a director used to a feature-length format.
The storyline, also, suffers in this way. It's not that it's a bad story, in fact it might make a great two- or three-part episode, but as a film, the material comes across as stretched, holey and lacking in substance. It's also remarkable in that it's not half as quirky or original as Cowboy Bebop's famously eclectic mixtures of ideas: biological terrorism unleashed by a madman with a mysterious and sinister military past, fascinated by death and bent on destroying the world, with cod philosophical pretentions to fil gaps between action and a garnish of some fashionable christian mythology. It's all very generic really, and frankly the only things that make this Cowboy Bebop and not something much more generic are the familiar characters, who are luckily strong enough to make the thing hang together. The new characters are not much to speak of, either - Vincent the aforementioned madman, a hacker accomplice, a Moroccan information seller and, of course, Electra, a tough, wildcard femme fatale with a mysterious connection to our antagonist. Electra comes off as the best realised of these, and, perhaps not coincidentally, closest to a series character (though she's a dead ringer for a more mature version of BGC2040's Priss as well). Vincent seems very like main series antagonist Vicious stripped of his hatred of Spike, which is to say, not that special and a bit rabid and foaming for credibility.
The film drags. It's just too long. What this is primarily due to is unclear; maybe an over-developed story with far too much exposition (every character seems to need every other to explain nanomachines to them, it seems. We, however, do not), or perhaps the increasingly egregious and segmented action scenes (why are there spitfires on Mars? Who knows, let's cut back to Spike being pursued by military jets for no apparent reason!), or it could be the ponderous attempts to fashion some sort of existential aspect to the story ("I'm not insane, the rest of the world is." - oh really? You don't look thirteen years old, Vincent, but you sound it). Philosophical-minded action films are not especially uncommon; good and effective ones are extremely rare. Suffice it to say that I was surprised and rather disappointed when the apparent climax occured and passed with a good half an hour left on the clock.
As I say, the film hangs almost completely on the main characters. It would have been unthinkable to not bring the original cast in for this gig too (can't speak for the dub cast, don't know), and they all acquit themselves just as well as they do in the series. Music, too, such a central part of the series, is again provided by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts; while the styles used in and prominence given to the music may not be to everyone's tastes, the versatility and range Kanno's score covers while still retaining a high basic quality standard is nothing short of incredible. Visually, the quality seems to have been kicked up a notch; the animation of the series was never bad, but the film is sumptuous and extremely well detailed.
However, one of my main bones of contention remains. The art design is realistic, unapologetically multicultural and sort of grimy, very credible in its way, but under even cursory analysis, it's illogical in the extreme. Why is Mars covered in early twentieth-century New York-style tenement blocks and labyrinthine Moroccan markets? Has anyone remembered that it has one third of earth's gravity? Is there, in fact, any reason for this to be set on Mars at all, other than to tie in all these diverse elements? It's sci-fi doing what sci-fi does most often and least well - making half-baked stuff up to accomodate its ideas, with no thought for maintainance of disbelief suspension.
I was never as bowled over by Cowboy Bebop as many people seem to have been. Overall I liked it, certainly, in fact I thought some of it was absolutely excellent, but other parts I thought were pretty terrible, and it was quickly clear that the series was never going to be "a classic" in my eyes the way it is for lots of others. This was primarily because of its disjointedness and apparent lack of story direction, and the same is true of this film. Now, after watching it, I'm left with the same "...well, so what?" feeling a significant amount of the series gave me, but because of the length and the negative impact it has, I have comparatively more holes to pick at as well. Perhaps if you're a real fan, this film has more to offer, but overall, for me, while I'd not actually call it bad, this doesn't reach the already kind of saggy standard the series set.
It was a good follow up (in-between, actually) to the series. I suggest that if you’re planning to watch Cowboy Bebop – Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door, you should watch after you get to the episode when Ed is introduced. You just need to get to know all 4 major characters to understand the movie.
I didn’t like it as much as the series, mostly because the series kept me interested by introducing new plot lines in each episode. Having to focus on one specific plot for 120 minutes was a bit exhausting. It has a nice plot – throughout the movie you’ll get why “Knockin’ on
Heaven’s Door” is part of the title. I also found the plot to be timely. Terrorism is a problem that’s been widespread throughout the world for years, and it’s interesting to see a group of bounty hunters trying to do something good for mankind.
The characters are back, of course. They’re still the same as they were in the series. 2 more major characters are introduced throughout the movie. The villain is Vincent Volaju, a mysterious terrorist with a forgotten past. He is definitely convincing as a villain, at least I think so. Electra is also a character added to the mix. I didn’t really like her, mostly because she looks like a guy, but her presence is important to the story. The original voice actors are also back to reprise their respective roles. I would have been mad if they changed the voice actors.
I think one of the major innovations in the movie is the visuals. The visuals are 10 times more stunning than in the series, all thanks to the collaboration with BONES studio. I guess it may have something to do with the fact that it was produced in 2001, and 2001 animation definitely improved since 1998. The screenplay was also as great as before.
Yoko Kanno came back to do the music again, but I have to say I’m a bit disappointed. There were less tracks than there were in the series, and there were a lot of scenes where there was no background music at all. That was a rare occurrence in the series. The opening theme, "Ask DNA" by The Seatbelts featuring Raju Ramayya and the ending theme "Gotta Knock a Little Harder" by The Seatbelts featuring Mai Yamane, were really nicely done though.
Obviously, I liked the series better, but that may have something to do with the fact that I finished the series first before watching the movie. It’s kind of hard to top the ending of the series, so it’s best if you watch the movie in between the series.
Anime aimed at teens is a lot of fun. But anime aimed at an older crowd is on a whole other level! You get more violence, gore, nudity and sex than you bargained for...which isn't entirely a bad thing.
Look at the top ten most successful anime at the American box office and its... almost all Pokemon, other toy/card game show adaptations, and Studio Ghibli films. But what other anime films have managed to make money in their limited releases?