Cowboy Bebop takes its time with its plot. The identity and the motives of the people behind the attack are presented as a mystery at first, and it is incumbent upon the main characters to solve that mystery. Because of that most of the movie has the feel of a detective story to it. There is action in this movie, and it is supported by fluid animation, but action isn't the only thing on offer here. The movie uses its two-hour running time wisely, and it feels like it has enough breathing room to do everything it wants to do with its characters. The mystery unfolds organically, without trying to rush to meet its ending.
The film was released over two years after the series ended. Despite this and the movie's placement within the series' timeline, it is not necessary to have seen the series before you watch the movie. The characters are more or less at the end of their personal growth but their personalities are such that it is easy to understand who they are and what they are about. There is never a moment in which new viewers are punished for a lack of knowledge for the series. The benefit of this approach is that no introduction is needed and the movie isn't held back by unnecessary setup.
Lately it feels like anime releases are often lacking in terms of special features. Cowboy Bebop: The Movie doesn't have this problem. There is a featurette to explore the conception and development of each character. There are also storyboard sequences on offer. The Umbrella Entertainment release includes a decent amount of extra features at a time when it feels like other companies in a similar position just aren't bothering.
Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is both a celebration for fans and an introduction for newcomers. It is a story of contemplation punctuated with strong action sequences, in which the animation really shines. The villain doesn't break any new ground but serves his role as a character well. Combine this with special features that feel fitting for a Blu-ray release in 2016 and what you get is a worthy addition to the collection of anyone looking for a new space western to watch.
Closed Caption; The Making of Cowboy Bebop: 6 behind-the-scenes featurettes / Music videos for Ask DNA and Gotta Knock a Little Harder / Conceptual art galleries / Storyboard comparisons / In-depth character profiles / Widescreen; Digitally mastered audio & anamorphic video / Original Japanese theatrical version
COWBOY BEBOP: THE MOVIE (2001) / CERT: TBC / DIRECTOR: SHINICHIRO WATANABE / SCREENPLAY: KEIKO NOBUMOTO / STARRING: STEVEN BLUM, BEAU BILLINGSLEA, WENDEE LEE, MELISSA FAHN, DARAN NORRIS, JENNIFER HALE, NICHOLAS GUEST, DAVE WITTENBERG / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW