They’re the best Anime that 2001 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Digimon Tamers: Boukensha-tachi no Tatakai, Digimon Adventure 02: Diablomon no Gyakushuu, Metropolis, and more!
5: Digimon Tamers: Boukensha-tachi no Tatakai
English: Digimon Tamers: Battle of Adventurers
Japanese: デジモンテイマーズ 冒険者たちの戦い
MAL Score: 6.98
Takato and Guilmon go on vacation to Okinawa and meet a fellow tamer, Minami. Back in Japan, a popular computer pet suddenly becomes a virus, infecting all of the computers who have it. As the virus spreads, Takato tries to figure out why digimon are all attacking his new friend, and what her connection is to the virus.
Anyway, the story’s pretty cool, they did a good job on it in this Digimon Tamers movie, a great job actually. The art is still the same, the quality’s just a bit better, so is the animation and the sound, still gotta love Guilmon’s voice actor right?
The dissapointing parts of the mo…vies are the fights in the movies, they can barely defeat the weak Digimon, evolve way to easy and if they do, they can defeat them in one attack, the higher-up digimon got eliminated in an instant too, and the final "boss" was another piece of that digital cake. Really dissapointing.
But that aside, we got a few new cool characters which got introduced, an old friend of Takato, Kai. A surfer looking guy who’s carefree and lives in a temple, then we’ve got that grandfather of Kai. An old dude playing some kind of guitarish instrument, he even fights against a Digimon using.. ka-ra-te(?), without succes of course. And then the girl, Minami, the one that introduces the problem to Kai and Takato. Some others too, but those don’t matter, but they did a great job, I love the new characters, and of course the old.
Highly enjoyable for digimon lovers and other people.
4: Digimon Adventure 02: Diablomon no Gyakushuu
English: Digimon Adventure 02: Revenge of Diaboromon
Japanese: デジモンアドベンチャー02 ディアボロモンの逆襲
MAL Score: 7.28
After the events of 02, everything is finally getting back to normal. That is, until a strangely familiar icon starts showing up on computer systems around the Japan. And not just computer systems… TVs, mobile phones, video games; anything with a screen with online capabilities. And this icon seems to be looking for somone… Yagami Taichi, and Ishida Yamato, who defeated it several years before. Yes, it turns out that this jellyfish digimon is in fact Diablomon, the Virus-type Digimon that was defeated in the second movie. But this time, he’s learned to make himself physical, and is sending thousands of copies of himself into the real world.
Koushiro and Ken devise a plan to rid the world of the virus once and for all, but it’ll take the help of all the Destined, past and present. Once again, it’s a race against time to put a stop to Diablomon’s plot… but even that is cloaked in shadow.
Will the revival of Omagamon be enough to stop Diablomon a second time, or will the millions of copies prove enough of a power boost to shrug off the “Digimon Champion of Justice”? Of course, he hasn’t seen the new breed of Chosen, nor the new techniques. It’s a fight to the finish, with the destruction of Tokyo resting on the line.
Story: The Story is pretty simple and nothing special but its intriguing and Diaboloms comeback is mostly believable.
Characters: Well its the characters from Digimon some suck dick like Daisuke and some are awesome like Ken or Taichi. Nothign changed from the series.
Art: The art is pretty solid especially considering it was made like 15 years ago. Animations look solid and Omegamons fight with Diablomon is awesome. But the last fight when Diablomon is defeated bothers me. I dont know why they did that or if they just didnt have any budget left but the Digimon looked static and not as smooth as in the other fights and didnt change their stance at all whilest being in mid air for like 20 secs. It looked really off. Other than that you will be able to enjoy some nice Omegamon action again.
Sound: I dont know if I have to say anything about the sound. Its Digimon. Its awesome.
Enjoyment: I really enjoyed the film. Its not as good as its prequel and it suffers from 1 or 2 plotholes along the way but in the end it is an enjoyable experience for every Digimon fan.
MAL Score: 7.53
In the great city of Metropolis, severe community structures and prejudice dominate a world where humans and robots live together. Unrest and violence increase with each new day.
Searching for the scientist Dr. Laughton, suspected to violate human rights by trading organs, the Japanese detective Shunsaku Ban and his nephew Kenichi arrive at Metropolis. In the scientist’s laboratory, Kenichi discovers a girl without any memory of her past life. He decides to help her, so they run away together. His uncle follows him and penetrates the dark secrets of the city to find Duke Red, the man ruling from the shadows. Meanwhile, Kenichi desperately tries to protect the mysterious girl from the people hunting her. However, Duke Red and his adoptive son have their own deep reasons for chasing the girl. These reasons are connected to her true identity and the struggle for the domination of Metropolis…
Metropolis is…a manga written in 1949 by Osamu Tezuka. Its similarities to the original film are pretty limited, mainly because Tezuka hadn’t even seen the film when he wrote the manga. He’d only seen a single picture in a magazine and thought it looked pretty rad.
Metropolis is…an anime movie from 2001 that’s loosely based on Tezuka’s manga, but also tries to bring in some plot elements from the original movie. It had an all-star team on it, such as Rintaro the director, one of my all time favourite anime folks Katsuhiro Otomo doing the scripts, and the production being done at Madhouse.
Metropolis is…not very good.
I feel a bit awkward not liking Metropolis, because there’s a hell of a lot of things to like about it. For one, it’s fucking gorgeous. Incredible detail has gone into each background drawing and there is rarely a shot where characters aren’t moving. Even background characters are doing little things like picking up bottles and throwing coins and puffing cigars. It seems weird to highlight something like this, but when you spend all your time watching the usual cost-cutting techniques of anime produced for television, it really stands out here. The music is fantastic too. It’s very blues orientated, which ties into the seedy underworld feel the lower levels of this heavily class-based world have.
The movie clearly has an actual point to the story too. It’s about class warfare and how the lowest levels of society will rise up eventually. It’s particularly striking how the rebellion starts with the second class citizens throwing their little fight, but the real rebellion is right at the end when the robots all rise up under their ‘charismatic’ leader. Tie this is with government corruption and how the desires of those in power, as heartfelt and real those feelings might be, can lead to the destruction of their city. There’s some pretty obvious allusions to the Tower of Babel too and the danger of trying to become like a god. In other words, this movie is not like the other 2000-era movie with Katsuhiro Otomo on board, Steamboy. With Steamboy, all the pretty visuals in the world couldn’t hide that the story was a total damp squib with dumb idealism and pathetic characters mwahaha go my biased views go. With Metropolis, there’s clearly an artistic vision here and a story with proper depth.
So why am I not feeling all that hyped about Metropolis? This might be a bit harder to explain.
You know that thing I was praising earlier on in this review? How characters would always be moving, including the background characters? How detailed the background art was? The movie also seemed to realise how great it was at this and leant on it too much. You get a lot of scenes of one character walking, another character walking with him, the second character looking back and slowing down, then jogging to catch back up with the character they were walking with. There’s lots of scenes of characters walking through the streets, or robots doing busywork, or fat Tezuka designs smoking cigars. It’s all set-dressing to develop the world, but most of it is redundant. When I say ‘a lot of scenes’, I really mean it. At least half of the first hour of the movie was spent on these shots of ‘world-building’. They get very boring very fast, which also serves to give the movie a painfully slow plodding pace.
The story is told almost entirely through symbolism and representative actions, which I generally like. That’s how I normally feel a story should be told. Thing is, this leaves the characters with rather little to say, but speak they do anyway. This leaves them with nothing of interest to say beyond idle chit chat, which leads me to the obvious conclusion that every single one is a boring person. Occasionally they might say something of interest that ties into the overall themes of the movie, but because the animation has been diligently working that point constantly, it’s again pretty redundant stuff. Combine these non-characters with a story that takes forever to move anywhere and has very little of excitement occurring and you get what makes Metropolis such a drag.
I knew writing this review would be difficult. Reading back over the last 2 paragraphs now, a lot of the things I appear to be complaining about are aspects of other anime I love. The whole thing about characters not being people but merely ideals slotted into the story might as well be a line from a review of Madoka Magica. Letting the visuals tell the story and leaving the characters to just blabber on about whatever could be a line from a review of FLCL. So what is it that this movie is missing? Some kind of X factor? Some oomph to get me invested?
Perhaps the best course of action might be to look at the end of the movie and see what it did right. For all the plodding most of the movie did, the end really ramps up and provides some of the most striking imagery I’ve seen in any anime. Absolutely jaw-dropping, end-of-the-world events centring on what had previously been this figure of purity and idealism warp into a mutant-baby-from-Akira monstrosity, but still had parts of its original face intact to make the shock turn even more grotesque and eerie. That scene had oomph, but it also wouldn’t have worked if the proceeding 90 minutes of rather boring studge hadn’t existed to build up the themes in the first place. It’s one of those cases where some reviewers would claim you require ‘patience’, which is a nice way of saying that the piece suffers from an inability to make its world-building and set up interesting to watch and only becomes interesting once Shit Starts Getting Real.
When Shit Starts Getting Real in Metropolis, it’s an exhilarating experience that brings together the narrative arcs of several plot threads in one satisfying conclusion. It’s a shame that they couldn’t make the entire rest of the movie interesting rather than relying on high production values and hoping that alone will keep you entertained.
The narrative opens in the titular Metropolis with a celebration for the opening of the new Ziggurat. Our protagonists are the private investigator, Shunsaku Ban and his nephew, Kenichi. They’ve traveled to Metropolis to find and arrest a Doctor guilty of harvesting human organs. Little do ther realise that he’s working with the great aristocrat, Duke Red, to create a specialised robot for a specific purpose. They find the doctor’s laboratory burning and Kenichi gets separated from his uncle and stuck in a lower part of the city with the robot, Tima.
The story doesn’t have a bad premise, even though it’s not the one from the original silent film or even close to it. But it quickly becomes riddled with problems. A big one is the romance they have between Tima and Kenichi. It’s incredibly weak with the two characters showing no chemistry nor sharing any substantial moments. They meet and they’re amicable towards each other so it must be love, I guess. The biggest one is probably Duke Red’s ultimate scheme. It reads like a bad silver age comic plot, but without the glorious cheesiness that made silver age comics entertaining. Instead, the film plays it completely seriously. The pacing is all over the place, with some scenes dragging and others getting rushed through.
The characters are severely under-developed. Most of them fill a basic archetypal role and never move beyond that. Which is a real problem when they try to get you to sympathise with them. Something bad happened to that guy with three or four lines? Yeah, if you don’t flesh out your characters, we aren’t going to care. The big exceptions are the characters with even less personality. Tima moves well below under-developed and is just very flat and primarily serves the purpose of being obsessive about Kenichi with little if any personality or motivation beyond him. Yes, the 1927 film was somehow more progressive in terms of gender portrayals than the 2001 one. There are other characters like that, mostly ones who appear in only a few scenes, though. Tima is the only major character with that particular problem.
The artwork is by far the best part of the film. The characters are done in a kind of retro design style reminiscent of other anime based on Tezuka’s work. Which does work very well given the source material. The backgrounds are magnificent. The futuristic tech is really cool looking, although some of it seems like it was deliberately designed around looking cool while being grossly impractical. The fire fighting equipment in particular involves a bunch of small parts that all have to converge and fuse into the main device. It does look cool, but it makes the world seem kind of stupid.
The voice acting is mostly pretty competent. The actors all do their work well enough. The big exception is Imoto Yuka who can’t be asked to emote and gives a very monotone performance. It may be a matter of direction, but I haven’t heard her in anything else, this film was the only acting credit I could find for her, so it’s possible that the direction was fine and she was just bad. The music is really good.
There really isn’t any in this. 1/10.
This movie is not good but I would hesitate to call it ungood. Visually, it’s a real treat. The music is good and the acting is, mostly, okay. That being said, it has a lot of problems. The story is weak. The characters are bland at best. It’s a film that’s flashy but lacking in any real substance. You might want to give it a watch if you’re really into high quality animation and sci-fi, but if you’re going to want a compelling narrative with interesting characters you’ll want to skip it. As such, I can’t recommend it for most people. Although you should definitely watch the silent film that it’s very loosely based on. My final rating is going to be a 4/10. Tomorrow, we’ll leap to something else. Possibly involving time travel.
The character development in Metropolis was appealing. The characters brought the movie alive; they are all one of a kind. Each of them had their own unique looks, styles, and distinctive personalities.
Metropolis is best known for its beautiful CGI; complete eye candy. The character animation didn’t blend in that well with the other CGI structures, but the strange daring mixture pulled me more into the movie.
I’ve seen Metropolis only in English dialogue, which I thought was great. Each of the voice actors portrayed the characters very well. The soundtrack to Metropolis was amazing. I really loved the music through out the movie, especially the ending song.
I would recommend watching Metropolis; it is a true delight.
2: Crayon Shin-chan Movie 09: Arashi wo Yobu Mouretsu! Otona Teikoku no Gyakushuu
Japanese: 映画 クレヨンしんちゃん 嵐を呼ぶモーレツ！オトナ帝国の逆襲
MAL Score: 7.77
Adult people all over Japan had been captivated by 20th Century Expo, theme parks that reenacted good old days of the 1970s (the last days of Japan’s high economic growth). One day the adults disappeared into the theme parks, leaving their children abandoned. That was a plot by “Yesterday Once More,” an organization who despises the 21st century and tries to bring Japan back to the 20th century with the dreams and hopes. Shinnosuke and his parents, Hiroshi and Misae, fight against the plot of “Yesterday Once More” in order to live together with family in the 21st century.
(Source: Manabu Tsuribe)
I’m not exactly going to review this anime. Let me just say two things, and I’ll list out some quotes from the movie, and I’ll be done.
First, this movie made me realize that crayon shin-chan isn’t just for kids.
Second, some animes in the world may have mediocre story, mediocre art, mediocre sound, but may deserve no less than a 10/10.
These are quotes by Nohara Hiroshi.
“Those who believe they have gotten big have no right to be big.”
“The antonym for justice isn’t evil, but another justice.”
“My life isn’t not interesting! I almost want to share the happiness of having a family!”
“Like I’d have any regrets on a world without Shinnosuke!”
“We aren’t heroes who save the world. We are fathers who want future for their children.”
“I’m never letting you go again, Shiro, Shinnosuke. Never again.”
“It isn’t life if it goes as planned.”
“There are no parents who tell their kids to die!”
“There are people who can work for me, but there are no replacements for father.”
“No matter what happens to my body, I protect my family!”
“Idiot! It’s admonishing, not educating! There is no point if you don’t do it yourself!”
All the days gone by were better.
Avant-garde structures of unprecedented forms, international coexistence at the furthest scale, a rock brought from the stars yonder. The crowds, diligently convened in endless queues underneath the blazing sun, gaze in awe at extravagant pavilions competing to offer a glimpse of the upcoming millennium; all fevered by an ambience of meteoric scientific development, stretching their hands towards the world of tomorrow. And at the center of it all, Japan, savouring the remaining days of its miraculous economic growth, at the apex of its inner and outer cultural relevance. The 1970 Osaka World Expo stands as a symbol of the promising future, and the purest definition of modern times.
«Progress and Harmony for Mankind.»
Then, the trick is dismantled. A camera films the set where hopes and dreams have been contained, never to be disturbed, yet never to be fulfilled—an eternal sunset. It’s 30 years later, at the dawn of a new century; memories distilled in a theme park ride for the amusement of nostalgia-blinded adults, and to the misfortune of their oblivious offspring.
Such is the way ‘The Adult Empire Strikes Back’—the ninth feature film tie-in in the Crayon Shin-chan series—draws the curtains of this play. Located amidst rural lands, the 20th Century Museum has become the Japanese’s most frequented attraction, its influence reaching far beyond the walls that surround it. People drive vintage vehicles where radios play long-forgotten music records; obsolete television devices reign in every living room, their antennas capture signals of old-fashioned programs; local markets resurfaced, tradition on display in the streets. A contagious atmosphere rapidly spreading across the country. At the forefront of this change is Ken, a man claiming to have obtained ‘the scent of the past’. His project—’Yesterday Once More’—reaches its final stage when adults leave town to forever plunge in the joys of their childhood, abandoning all worries and duties. The neglected children are left behind, then forcibly assembled; only Shin-chan and friends running free and determined to seize their progenitors back.
Keiichi Hara’s script is penned with commendable skill, gradually unfolding a brilliant premise whose complexity steadily builds upon itself. Though it’s often the younger cast members who shine under the floodlights, the ulterior core of the film lies within the inner conflict faced by their parents, explored through numerous entangled motifs. The aforementioned Osaka World Expo, for instance, emerges as a relic of the past disrupting the future, its associated values of progress corrupted and turned upside down, acting as the central point of escapism. The travessy from urban life to the countryside is yet another subversion, that of the massive rural migration to Tokyo during the Golden Age of Capitalism, and symbolizes for the Japanese a return to their youth, a simpler life away from the hustle and bustle of the capital.
Exuding nostalgia in each and every frame, we’re drawn to a world that no longer is. Bittersweet melodies of old are gracefully complemented by a fitting original score of minimalist acoustics. The crimson sun looming on the edge of the Earth but never fading away, finely crafted background plates of beautiful colors bathed in its gloomy light. References to popular culture carefully inserted along the way—tokusatsu, the earliest magical girls, artists and personalities of all sorts. Narrative detours delve into hushed montages where one is left to simply soak in the atmosphere, guided solely by their senses.
The infamous lowbrow comedy characteristic of the franchise appears at first glance inevitably bound to clash with such a melancholic tone. However, the Nohara’s zany misadventures not only feel at home here, but ‘Adult Empire’ manages to keep itself significantly grounded in comparison to all preceding installments by integrating them meaningfully into the narrative. Clocking barely 90 minutes of runtime, the picture hardly wastes a second to aid its thematic relevance, seamlessly introducing visual cues throughout to showcase the disconnect between adult and child worldviews, both literally and figuratively, or allegorically exploring the struggles of child-rearing and family life. A recreation of Miyazaki’s classic Cagliostro chase sequence taken to the extreme pokes fun at the absurdity of media’s over-reliance on nostalgia factor, only one of many bizarrely amusing scenarios where everyone’s expected roles and behavior are misplaced.
The protagonists’ joyful defiance contrasts with the attitude exhibited by the main antagonists. Foreseeing the isolating effects of technological development, they reset life back to inviting small communities and tight-knit neighbourhoods, metaphorically stepping down from the future and returning to the past at the beginning of the film. They exemplify the disillusionment of the Japanese born and raised in the twilight of a resoundingly prosperous era, growing up to find themselves in an increasingly harsher world where the evolving geopolitics placed a higher degree of independence and responsibility on their shoulders. As the 21st Century draws closer and closer, the country is forced to choose its own path. Ken’s answer to that conundrum is to stop time itself. But neither he or his companion, Chako, hold malicious intent—they’re simply worn out. Restrained and distant, they rarely hinder the character’s path when given the chance, rather choosing to test their resolve to achieve their goals and thus the strength of their counterargument. The project itself is merely sustained by the adults’ will for it to exist, as opposed to any form of external coercion.
In what’s perhaps the film’s most emotionally gripping sequence, the memories of Hiroshi—Shin-chan’s father—are followed from childhood to adulthood; arguing the rewarding benefits of family life and long-term commitment to achieve happiness, stating the need to leave certain things behind while growing up in order to acquire new ones along the way, and hinting at the struggles to stay oneself while the world around us relentlessly changes by keeping Hiroshi always positioned in the middle of the frame. Consciousness regained, the Nohara family—for the first time reunited—runs against the clock. During the riveting climax, the camera cuts away to the people witnessing through television the dramatic climb to the top of Tokyo Tower’s replica, tears rolling down their cheeks. The heroic feat breaks the spell, revealing the fakeness of a motionless world. A genius final play of metanarrative; beyond the screen, an aimless Japanese society in the year 2001 finds the encouragement to move forward. One of the closing shots shows an empty room where the TV is now turned off. It’s the end of the fantasy, and the beginning of reality.
«The 20th Century is over.»
Regarded as a masterpiece and a classic in Japan and South-East Asia at large, ‘The Adult Empire Strikes Back’ is an exceptionally well directed and narrated feature; equally respectful for the bygone days and optimistic for those to come, reconciling with the most difficult dilemmas adults and children alike and society as a whole. Some may argue the message is lost in translation. But time is universal—its passage, Nature’s single dogma.
The story begins of nice, Shinnosuke and his family star in this action movie where his Dad plays a parody superhero. (Parody of Ultraman.). After this it just continues normally, everyone we basically know from the normal series is at the World Fair’s 20th Century Museum, where all the parents try to relieve they’re childhood. As they are about to enter the 21st century, a certain evildoer hypnotizes adults via tv, thr…ough a 20th Century Museum commercial, this turns the adults in childs, not psysically, but mentally.
This shows that Shinnosuke can be very mature, and yet.. not.
So the story’s pretty plain, but the way it is shown in this movie it’s just great.
They still use the same weird art style, which is just needed in Crayon Shin-Chan series/movies, specials and such. So I’ll give it a good score. The sounds okay too.
The characters, of course, Shinnosuke is still the same ol’ perverted kid, which I said before. Furthermore he still has those crazy moods and actions. Shinnosuke’s friend group is just as crazy as normally, especially when they get drunk on Oolong Tea. You can see they’re mature side which you don’t see very often, yet they can act as baby’s the next moment.
If you’re ready for a bit extraordinary artstyle, alot of humor and a funny adventure. This movie is where you need to be. I recommend that you’d watch (a bit) of the series, "Crayon Shin-Chan", just so you get to know the characters and minor characters a bit. But it’s highly enjoyable, even to watch it several times.
1: Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira
English: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie
Japanese: カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉
MAL Score: 8.38
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.
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.
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.
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.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku no Tobira
2. Crayon Shin-chan Movie 09: Arashi wo Yobu Mouretsu! Otona Teikoku no Gyakushuu
4. Digimon Adventure 02: Diablomon no Gyakushuu
5. Digimon Tamers: Boukensha-tachi no Tatakai