Anime fans, head to Santa Monica on Sunday for a special screening of “the 2001 Cowboy Bebop.” It’s the right kind of film to end the summer and begin your Halloween preparations. Art Directors Guild (ADG) Film Society and American Cinematheque conclude the 2013 ADG Film Series with a special screening of “Cowboy Bebop: The Movie” (カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉 Cowboy Bebop: Tengoku No Tobira) (2001), a futuristic animated feature from Japan that blends film noir, spaghetti western, Hong Kong style action, and much more into a remarkable work of film art on Sunday, August 25 at 5:30 pm at the Aero Theatre, 1328 Montana Ave. in Santa Monica.
The story takes place in 2017 just a few days before Halloween. Yes, did you think in the future they’d stop wanting to dress up? No way Jose. On the capital city of Mars, a pathogen has been released. The largest bounty in the history of the world has been issued to capture the culprit. The bounty hunter crewe of the scapeship named Bebop hopes to become rich, but will the crew of Spike, Faye, Jet, Ed and Eini be able to solve the mystery surrounding the pathogen? Wil they be able to beat the othrs hunting him down? The fate of Mars is at stake.
Shinichiro Watanabe directed Cowboy Bebop and Atsushi Morikawa was the Art Director. Other credited designers include Toshihiro Kawamoto, who designed the characters; Kimitoshi Yamane, the mechanical elements; Shiho Takeuchi, the sets; and Shihoko Nakayama, the color scheme. Watanabe drew heavily on American culture, including American jazz of the 1940s which is the reason for the spacecraft’s name, Bebop. The score was by Yoko Kanno and featured jazz, blues and funk.
The screenplay is by Keiko Nobumoto with story by Hajime Yatate. “Cowboy Bebop” was originally a TV series that ran in Japan on TV Toiyo from April 2 to June 26 1998. Only 12 of the original 26 episodes were broadcast. The full 26 episodes were later broadcast from October 24 until April 24, 1999.
“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie,” though considered anime, has all the emotion and visceral impact of any great live action film, with a story that mixes past and future architecture and wild action with a feeling of genuine urban realism. Cowboy Bebop is unique as it creates its world with a minimum of computer graphics and just a bit of clever rotoscoping — the vast majority of both human and mechanical action is rendered entirely by hand.
The program, sponsored by The Hollywood Reporter, will begin with a short visual presentation introducing the audience to the special universe of Cowboy Bebop. A discussion will follow with Peter Ramsey, an ADG Illustrator who advanced to feature Director on the award winning Rise of the Guardians (2012) and special guest Steve Blum, the acclaimed actor who voices “Spike Spiegel,” Bebop’s lead character, as well Wolverine, The Avengers, and Transformers, among many others. ADG Film Society Founder, Co-Chair and Production Designer John Muto will moderate the program.
“Cowboy Bebop: The Movie is significant not just for the amazing world that the designers created, but because its cinematic, dramatic, emotional, and even musical elements set it apart from what we ordinarily think of as “anime,” said John Muto. “While Bebop takes place in the future, and includes plenty of violent action, pyrotechnics, sly humor, and even eroticism, there is very little that is silly or cartoony about it. The characters, and their struggles make it very easy to forget that one is watching animation at all, and simply enjoy the picture just as if it were a contemporary live action movie.”
“From the design point of view, Cowboy Bebop, like almost all great animated films, creates its own unique world – in this case a terraformed Mars of the next century,” adds Muto. “Much of the action takes place in a city that, while it has futuristic elements, also recalls old Earth cities like Paris, Tokyo, New York, and Cairo. The integration of such disparate designs works flawlessly. Equally impressive is the integration of the character design into the created environment – an aspect of animation design that should be given more recognition. The brilliant music score, a mix of jazz and blues, by Yoko Kanno, must also be acknowledged for the special ambience it lends to this very special film.”
General admission: $11. American Cinematheque members: $7. Students/Seniors with valid ID: $9. All screenings start at 5:30 p.m. 24-hour information is available at 323-466-FILM (3456).