Cowboy Bebop: Best Sessions

Film:
DVD:

Directed by Shinichiro Watanabe

Features:

  • Remastered Japanese and English Dolby 5.1 audio
  • Japanese DTS 5.1 audio

Doc’s Anime Warnings:

  • Vaguely annoying supergenius kid
  • Infectious cool
  • Potentially addictive

Released by: Bandai
Region: 1
Rating: 13+
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes presented in their original 1.33:1 aspect

My Advice: Own it.

Take Mickey Spillane, Blade Runner, and a stack of jazz CDs. Add a pinch of Han Solo. Throw in a dash of kung fu and John Woo. Throw it all in a blender and liquify. The result is the impossibly smooth anime goodness that is Cowboy Bebop. One of the most popular anime series of all time, the show simply exudes cool in waves strong enough to pin you to your sofa, while flying bullets and solid jazz soundtrack tunes wash over you.

The misfit trio of bounty hunters (or “cowboys”), comprised of cocky young hotshot Spike, cyborg ex-cop Jet, and amnesiac cryo-patient Faye Valentine, inhabit the decrepit but capable Bebop, a former fishing vessel held together through Jet’s constant tinkering. The crew is rounded out by Edward, a precocious young girl with a talent for computers, non sequiturs, and referring to herself in the third person, and Ein, a genetically engineered super-intelligent Welsh Corgi.

Hovering just above abject poverty pretty constantly, the cowboys chase criminals around the solar system in a constant quest to afford repairs to the ship and the occasional batch of food and ammunition. Along the way, they attempt to learn more about Faye’s past, tie up ugly loose ends trailing Spike, and close cases that Jet started back in his days as a law enforcement officer.

This two-disc collection presents a half-dozen episodes of the series, three chosen by the director as the best of the best and the other three picked by the fans. The episodes have been digitally remastered under the watchful eye of director Watanabe and updated with excellent Dolby 5.1 audio tracks in both Japanese and English. There’s also an exclusive DTS 5.1 audio option, but only for the Japanese language track.

The episodes are a solid mix of the show’s most common themes and include the very first episode of the series to bring new viewers in on equal footing with long-term fans. The extremely episodic nature of the show’s script-writing makes it easy for new fans to get involved, as even old school fans of the show only possess a nominally larger chunk of info about what’s going on from one show to the next. Since the shows are hand-picked favorites of the show’s creator and fans, all the stories are very strong and highly enjoyable (though I do wish they had included “My Funny Valentine,” which serves as the most informative episode about Faye’s background that I’ve seen).

A few more extras would have been nice, but aren’t mandatory to make this one a keeper. If any show has ever deserved a “jukebox” of music from the series, Bebop is it…but no such luck. Some character profiles would have been helpful for people just stepping into the show’s mythology, as there are quite a few interesting details about the players that would enhance enjoyment of the episodes, but again, this is hardly necessary to make it a worthy purchase.

This makes a great entry point for people curious about the show, or even just a solid greatest hits collection for a fan not interested or able to sink the long green to accumulate the entire run of the show on DVD. People normally resistant to anime as a medium might find this compelling enough to overcome their reservations about Japanese animation, particularly if they are fans of science fiction or solid crime dramas. In short, there just aren’t that many people that wouldn’t enjoy at least seeing a few of these shows, and this makes a beautiful addition to any otaku’s anime collection.

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