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Anime Movie Review: 'Cowboy Bebop the Movie: Knockin' on Heaven's Door' (2001)

Updated on April 10, 2019
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing videogames.

Cowboy Bebop Funmation blu-ray cover.
Cowboy Bebop Funmation blu-ray cover. | Source

Quick Info

Director: Shinichirō Watanabe
Distributor: Funimation Entertainment, previously Sony Entertainment
Released: November 13th, 2018 Funimation blu-ray
Runtime: 115 minutes
Availability: On blu-ray, you can still find Sony DVDs on sale, buy on Amazon or RightStufAnime

Story Summary

The crew aboard the Bebop are on the trail of another bountyhead, this time they’re chasing down a terrorist who blew up a tanker filled with an unknown chemical weapon. Will the crew be able to catch him or will he get away?

You can watch this movie without any previous Experience with the Anime

This is the perfect anime movie in the sense that even though it’s tied to a popular franchise it doesn’t expect you to know anything about Cowboy Bebop going in. Most of the standalone anime movies based off popular franchises like Bleach, Naruto, One Piece, and My Hero Academia are all made with the expectation that the audiences watching those movies are somewhat familiar with the franchises they are watching.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2001) doesn’t have this problem, it is a self-contained story where you can go in blind and enjoy it without having to worry about needing prior experience with the anime.

You will get a lot more enjoyment out of it if you have watched Cowboy Bebop (1998) since you will already know about these characters but the franchise is very friendly to newcomers and whether you start with the movie or the anime, you’ll enjoy it.

The story is a Fast-Paced and Fun

This anime film is so much fun. It just drops you right into the story and keeps you engrossed because of the story and the characters. Although there are times when this movie will slow down, it rarely happens and you’re in for one crazy ride.

I really love that this film is fast-paced and keeps the story moving along at a fast pace so that you don’t have time to get bored.

Cowboy Bebop The Movie Trailer (Original)

The Animation is Amazing!

The animation for this movie is by Studio Bones and this was before they animated some of their most famous work like the Fullmetal Alchemist franchise, Wolf’s Rain, Eureka Seven, Gosck, and their current popular work, My Hero Academia. The animation looks fantastic and the character designs look very nice and the animation is very fluid.

The highlight of Cowboy Bebop is the animation for the fight scenes. It looks so fluid and the animation is very well done. The fight choreography is also incredible.

An example of the incredible animation by Studio Bones.
An example of the incredible animation by Studio Bones. | Source

Audio and Subtitles

English (Reviewed) (Available on blu-ray and DVD)
English (Available on blu-ray and DVD)
Japanese (Available on blu-ray and DVD)

The English Dub is Top Notch!

Steve Blum is amazing as Spike Spiegel. He did a fantastic job and this cemented him in the minds of English dub fans by being part of an English dub that is so stellar it’s practically the gold standard of what a great English dub is.

John Billingslea is great as Jet Black; he just voices his character so well. He’s a fantastic voice actor and he did a great job in this role.

Wendee Lee is also great as Faye Valentine. She brought a lot of life and energy to her role, her acting brought life and energy to her role. She made Faye very entertaining.

Melissa Fahn is also hilarious as the loony hacker girl Edward, believe me, she’s a weirdo and Melisa did an amazing job playing this zany character.

The entire English dub is amazing and is still the gold standard that all dub fans use to compare other English dubs. It’s a memorable and well-acted dub.

You can watch either the English or Japanese dub and enjoy it. You won’t be disappointed either way.

Cowboy Bebop OST 4 - Gotta knock a little harder

The Soundtrack is Amazing!

Yoko Kano’s soundtrack is amazing as always. The Cowboy Bebop music is probably what she’s most famous for outside of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 1st and 2nd Gig.

Every song in the film is fun and entertaining. The songs are fantastic although sometimes the lyrics are nonsensical and silly, they still fit the film very well. The musical score for the anime film is amazing and it’s a wonderful score.

The opening is “Ask DNA" by the Seatbelts and the ending is “Gotta Knock a Little Harder” by The Seatbelts, this song is amazing by the way. It’s also available on iTunes for purchase which is a rare thing for anime music although it’s becoming more common if the anime is popular for the opening songs or some soundtracks to be available on iTunes. Cowboy Bebop is a classic anime that is popular enough to have the soundtrack up on iTunes. I haven’t bought the entire soundtrack but I have bought songs I liked from this film.

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The Pacing is Uneven

While I do love that this film is fast-paced, it does slow sometimes but that could make the film feel uneven for some audiences but I really enjoy the movie but some audiences might not like the uneven pacing.

Parental Rating

This is an R-rated movie, and not just for the fighting. There are some adult situations, but this is the very low end of the R-rating so it’s not too adult when it comes to the content, unlike other R-rated movies.

Overall, it’s a Fantastic Anime Film

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2001) is a wonderful anime film that will please both longtime fans and newcomers to the Cowboy Bebop franchise.

It’s a fun, entertaining ride from start to finish that has fantastic production values. Everything about this anime film is so well done, most people will enjoy it.

Edward is having an awkward moment.
Edward is having an awkward moment. | Source

Quick Summary

What Works:
What Doesn't Work:
Great story, characters and world-bulding
Uneven pacing
Characters are as deep as you want them to be
Fantastic animation
Amazing English and Japanese dubs
Fantastic soundtrack

My Grade: A+

I had a blast watching his movie again after a very long time of watching it when I borrowed it on DVD from my local library. Unfortunately, the library system removed it, probably because the disc was worn out from people borrowing it.

I do recommend buying this movie, while anyone can watch it, it is definitely worth adding to your collection if you already love Cowboy Bebop (1998). You can buy it used if you want to find a good deal on it when it comes to price. The old DVDs are upper cheap on eBay. The blu-ray is a little more expensive but that’s because Funimation recently rereleased it on blu-ray.

Funimation did not rerelease the DVD version of the movie; fortunately, you can find those cheap online. The blu-ray quality is very good; it looked fantastic on my TV. I didn’t notice any issues with the video quality.

The steelbook case it came in is nice too.

Overall, I highly recommend Cowboy Bebop: The Movie: Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door (2001). It’s an amazing movie that I love a lot. While it isn’t one of my favorite moves ever, I still love it a lot since it’s a fun watch for me as a fan of Cowboy Bebop (1998). I can recommend this for a blind buy because it’s not too expensive and it’s a lot of fun, but you will definitely get more out of it if you’re already a fan of the anime series.

It’s definitely worth your time and money to own it in your anime collection. Unfortunately, it’s not available for digital purchase or rental so you’ll have to either borrow it from your local library or blind buy it, but there are a lot of clips on YouTube of the fight scenes from the movie if you want to see if it looks like something you’ll like, but some scenes are spoilers for the end of the film.

I can recommend a blind buy, and I usually don’t do that if there’s legal streaming or rental, but this is an anime movie that you can buy and enjoy without knowing anything about the franchise. It’s also a nice way to give Cowboy Bebop a try without having to buy the entire series or put too much time in to see if you’ll like it.

It’s worth your time and money too. It’s deep and meaningful for people who look for depth in anime, but it’s also just fun if you want to turn off your brain and watch a fun movie too, so it appeals to both audiences. I love this anime movie and I’m very happy that I have it in my anime collection after so long of not having a good quality blu-ray release since I heard Sony’s blu-ray release had issues with the video quality. Go buy it used if you’re looking for a good deal or you can wait for an anime sale. Either way, you should definitely buy this move for your anime collection. It stills holds up after 18 years, and that’s no small feat either.

My Rating

5 stars for Movie Review: Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (2001)


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