Cowboy Bebop The Complete Series was released by FUNimation Entertainment after acquiring the series as a license rescue. It was released as a five-disc DVD set and a four-disc Blu-ray set. This review is for the Blu-ray set.
Cowboy Bebop The Complete Series
English Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
Release Date: December 16, 2014
Cowboy Bebop is set in the year 2071, and the series features a crew of bounty hunters traveling around in a spaceship called the Bebop. The crew of the ship includes Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine, Edward, and Ein.
Spike Spiegel is a former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. He’s a pickpocket, a skilled pilot, and is also a master of firearms and hand-to-hand combat.
Jet Black is a former Inter-Solar System Police (ISSP) detective, and he’s the character who owns the Bebop. He ended up leaving the ISSP due to his disgust of the corruption he saw in the force and became a bounty hunter. Jet also has a cybernetic prosthetic for one of his arms.
Faye Valentine is an amnesiac who was awakened after being in a cryogenic chamber for 54 years. She’s also a novice bounty hunter who has a gambling addiction. She ends up joining the crew of the Bebop uninvited.
Edward is a young computer genius and master hacker who agrees to help the crew of the Bebop track down a bounty. But this only happens after they allow Edward to become a member of the crew.
Ein is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi and a former lab animal that ends up joining the crew of the Bebop. Ein is referred to as a “data dog,” and it is suggested in the series that he has an enhanced intelligence.
The episodes of Cowboy Bebop usually focus on a particular bounty that the crew is trying to apprehend; however, there is also some emphasis on the past of one of the main characters. Many of Cowboy Bebop’s episode titles are references to song titles: “Stray Cat Strut,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Sympathy for the Devil,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “My Funny Valentine,” “Wild Horses,” and “Hard Luck Woman.”
Another notable thing about Cowboy Bebop is how the series is able to combine several influences and make it work. During the series, you can see influences from kung fu films, westerns, science fiction, and film noir.
I appreciate how the character development is handled in the series, and how it turns out that everyone aboard the Bebop is damaged in some way. While there’s the occasional episode that doesn’t do much to progress the overall story or the characters, Cowboy Bebop is still an enjoyable series to watch. The series perfectly infuses lots of Western influences into it, and combining this with the storytelling, characters, and the music, it’s easy to see why Cowboy Bebop has become such a beloved and landmark anime.
The Blu-ray video has 1080p High Definition 4×3 HD Native, and the audio includes Dolby TrueHD 5.1 for both the English and the Japanese audio. I thought that the remastered video looked fantastic on the Blu-ray. The audio in the actual episodes sounded good, but I was a little frustrated that the music for the Blu-ray menus was mastered significantly higher than the audio for the episodes.
When it comes to the actual Blu-ray set, the episodes are spread out over three of the four discs: nine episodes on disc one, nine episodes on disc two, and eight episodes on disc three. The set’s bonus features are spread out over the first three discs, and make up the entirety of the fourth Blu-ray Disc in the set. The bonus features on the first two discs are episode commentaries. The first disc has commentaries for “Asteroid Blues” and “Ballad of Fallen Angels,” while the second disc has commentaries for “Ganymede Elegy” and “Mushroom Samba.”
The third Blu-ray Disc includes episode commentary for “Hard Luck Woman,” as well as a couple of interviews, various versions of the opening and closing credits that appeared during Cowboy Bebop, as well as the trailer for this release and trailers for other releases that FUNimation was promoting at the time that this Blu-ray set was released. The two interviews included on the third disc are with Wendee Lee (the English dub voice for Faye Valentine) and Sean Akins from Cartoon Network. Both of these interviews previously appeared on Bandai Entertainment’s Cowboy Bebop Remix DVD releases. But the most impressive feature on this disc is Session #0, which is a roughly a half-hour long Cowboy Bebop documentary. Over the course of the half-hour, a lot of information is crammed in. Included in this documentary is stats and information on the main characters; interviews with the animation front liners, the director, the series composer, the producer, and some of the voice actors; an “unaired TV episode digest”; and “music” video for the Cowboy Bebop theme song; and a textless version of the ending credits. While Session #0 was previously available on Bandai’s release of the series, it was nice to see it included on FUNimation’s release.
The fourth Blu-ray disc includes the most interesting bonus features. The two music videos for “Tank!” (the full-length song and the remix done by DJ FOOD) were previously released on Bandai’s Cowboy Bebop Remix DVDs, but the remaining bonus features are exclusive to this set.
“Ein’s Summer Vacation” is a one-minute short, made up of almost all still drawings of Ein. It’s a sweet little thing to watch, but I wish it had been a little longer.
“Memo From Bebop: The Dub Sessions Remembered” is a little over an hour-and-a-half long, and it intercuts interview footage with clips from the English dub of Cowboy Bebop. The interviewees included in this feature are Mary Elizabeth McGlynn, Steve Blum, Wendee Lee, Beau Billingslea, Melissa Fahn, and Henry Douglas Grey. Unlike the typical interviews that I’ve seen on anime releases, the intercutting of interviews with anime footage, as well as the fact that the interviews jump between various people and camera angles, make this feature more interesting to watch.
“Dinner Aboard the Bebop” runs for an hour and seven minutes, and it’s a reunion of the main cast and Mary Elizabeth McGlynn 15 years after working on Cowboy Bebop. While the “Memo From Bebop” extra was nice, it was great to see the dub actors all together in the same place and interacting with one another. They keep mentioning how that cast was like a family, and you can see it in the camaraderie they have in their interactions with one another. Getting to see the cast in this kind of manner also gives the viewer a little insight into the actors. And from what I saw, they all seem to be great people.
If you want to own Cowboy Bebop on Blu-ray, this is definitely the way to acquire the series in this format. Not only do you get the remastered video and audio, you also get a bonus feature that’s not included in FUNimation’s DVD release (“Dinner Aboard the Bebop”).