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Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Anime doesn't have to be all about mystical bath houses and Radish Spirits — so if Spirited Away didn't do it for you, give Cowboy Bebop: The Movie a go. A feature-length sci-fi adventure with a dash of detective noir, Bebop is a stylish, jazzy romp about a mismatched crew of galactic bounty hunters. In 2071, lanky, laconic "cowboy" Spike travels through space with cynical ex-cop Jet Black, stacked-and-spoiled gambler Faye Valentine (who favors abbreviated outfits designed to display her assets), freaky pre-teen hacker Edward (she's a girl, by the way), and a Welsh Corgi named Ein, who's a genius data dog but no one except Edward knows how smart he is. In this stretched-out episode, the gang chase down a young hacker and his partner, a former soldier who's gone bio-terrorist, accompanied by a truly diverse selection of very cool music. Director Shinichiro Watanabe combines realistic-looking backgrounds with clever character design and obsessively detailed environments; that the action-flick story is also dead-clever adds to the fun. Columbia TriStar's DVD release is great looking, with gorgeous, deliberately muted colors and deep blacks — all around, a solid transfer in anamorphic widescreen (1.85:1). Audio options include the original Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 audio and the dubbed English DD 5.1 track. Fans of the show on Cartoon Network's "Adult Swim" will be pleased to know that the same actors do the English voices for this film; French and English subtitles are available, too. The disc offers a number of bonus features of varying quality, including six behind-the scenes featurettes (the best of the bunch being "International Appeal: What's Not to Like" on how Bebop bridges cultural gaps) character studies on each of the main characters, storyboard comparisons, art galleries and "music videos" (two of the film's songs set to clips from the movie), and seven theatrical trailers, including I Spy, Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis, XXX, and the impressive-looking anime feature Steam Boy. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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