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Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door (劇場版 カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉 Gekijōban Kaubōi Bibappu: Tengoku no Tobira?, titled Cowboy Bebop: Heaven's Door in English), known internationally as Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, is a 2001 animated film directed by Shinichirō Watanabe. The screenplay was written by Keiko Nobumoto, based on the Cowboy Bebop television series created by Sunrise. The plot centers on Spike Spiegel and his crew as they find a criminal who is planning to release a virus on Mars. The title of the movie is taken from the Bob Dylan song of the same name. The character Vincent is based around the musician.[1]

Opening on September 1, 2001 in Japan and in the U.S. on August 11, 2002 and received positive reviews.


The year is 2071, a few days before Halloween. A deadly virus is being released in the capital city of Mars, and the government has issued a 300 million woolong reward, the largest bounty in history, for the capture of whoever is behind it. The bounty hunter crew of the spaceship Bebop; Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Ein, take the case with hopes of cashing in the great bounty. But the mystery surrounding the man responsible, Vincent Volaju, goes deeper than they ever imagined, and they aren't the only ones hunting him. The original creators of the virus have dispatched an agent named Electra to deal with Vincent, as well as take out anyone who might uncover the truth behind his murderous crusade against the Martian government. As the hunt for the man with no past and no future continues to escalate, the fate of Mars rests with the Bebop crew, a responsibility they aren't so sure they can handle.


Shinichirō Watanabe, creator of the Cowboy Bebop series, said in an interview he aimed to use "more difficult technical effects" available for the film to create a "live-action look" that would permeate throughout the animated film.[2] When asked what the audience should "watch out for" in the film, Watanabe responded by saying that one should not just pay attention to "images," since the creators "pushed [themselves]" on the story, the facial expressions, and "everything". In addition Watanabe said that he "kept the whole 'Bebop Flavor' in mind" and that some viewers would not perceive the film as being distinct from the television series.[2]

Watanabe chose to use an "Arabesque" atmosphere, which was described by an interviewer as permeating "everywhere from the images to the music," saying that the Arab world was "alien" to him and that it "wasn't used much" in the television series. He said that he ultimately created the film "using the inspiration I got while I was in Morocco" to gain inspiration, adding that he would not have used the material in his film if he did not like what he saw.[2]

Watanabe used two guest directors, with Hiroyuki Okiura creating the opening and Tensai Okamura created the "Western film-within-the-film." When asked by the interviewer if he asked directors to create segments with "different sensibilities," Watanabe responded by saying that the segments were "very different" from the rest of the film and that the schedule would not have allowed Watanabe to film them, so he had decided that he would rather let "someone I could trust" film the segments.[2]

Watanabe cast Tsutomu Isobe and Ai Kobayashi as guest voice actors; neither of them had very much experience in animation voice acting. Watanabe said that he cast them since he "knew exactly what kind of voice I wanted." He said that he "especially" experienced this feeling regarding Kobayashi since he thought "That's it! She's Electra!" after hearing Kobayashi's demonstration tape. Watanabe said that he also felt that Isobe had "the right voice." Watanabe said, in terms of dramatics, he wanted to use voice actors who could give a "raw, naturalist feel to Bebop."[2]

Watanabe added that he had not originally planned to use Renji Ishibashi for the role of the robber Renji. He said that when he and the other creators planned the convenience store robbery scene, writer Keiko Nobumoto said that she could not find inspiration. The creators decided to use a real-life actor as a model for the robber and the writers based the robber on Ishibashi. The creators seriously offered the actor a role. Watanabe said that he was "half-joking" and doubted that Ishibashi would accept the role; Watanabe said that he felt "so pleased" when Ishibashi accepted the role.[2]

The interviewer said that he believed the film was "very psychedelic." Watanabe concurred, adding that the film "can get a little psychedelic" and cited the hallucination scenes.[2]

Characters and voice cast

Main article: Cowboy Bebop characters

When asked by an interviewer which character he empathized with "the best" or on which character he could "best project yourself" Watanabe responded by saying "That's a difficult question." He added that he empathized with all of his characters and that he has to simultaneously "keep them all at arm's length" or else he could not "create with them." Watanabe added that there are "bits of me" in every single character.[2]

Original English dub Role
Kōichi Yamadera Steven Blum Spike Spiegel
Megumi Hayashibara Wendee Lee Faye Valentine
Unshō Ishizuka Beau Billingslea Jet Black
Aoi Tada Melissa Fahn Ed
Tsutomu Isobe Daran Norris Vincent Volaju
Ai Kobayashi Jennifer Hale Electra Ovilo
Mickey Curtis Nicholas Guest Rasheed
Yuji Ueda Dave Wittenberg Lee Sampson


Reception to the film was generally positive, earning a 70% score on Rotten Tomatoes.[3] BBC gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, calling it "an example of anime at its very best."[4] A positive review on fansite The Jazz Messengers, which gave it an A-, indicates that fans of the series were not disappointed.[5] It was nominated in 2004 for the Online Film Critics Society Awards in the Best Animated Feature category.[6]


The original soundtrack was written and performed by The Seatbelts who released a mini album of the movie's music, entitled Ask DNA.

Blu-ray disc

The movie was released on Blu-ray disc in Japan on July 25, 2008 featuring remastered 1080p video, and Dolby True HD lossless 5.1 audio.[7] Currently, there are no plans to release the Blu-Ray in the United States or Europe.


External links

ko:카우보이 비밥 천국의 문 it:Cowboy Bebop: il film pt:Cowboy Bebop: The Movie zh:星際牛仔:天國之門