Toonami Adds Half Hour of Programming with Cowboy Bebop

The official Facebook page for Adult Swim’s Toonami block has announced that it will begin airing Cowboy Bebop again beginning the night of September 9, 2017. The block will add an extra half hour of programming, so it will not replace any currently-airing shows, but it will bump Attack on Titan back to a later timeslot.

The schedule for September 9, 2017 is:

11:00 p.m. — Dragon Ball Super
11:30 p.m. – Dragon Ball Z Kai
12:00 a.m. – JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
12:30 a.m. – Tokyo Ghoul
1:00 a.m. – Hunter x Hunter
1:30 a.m. – Lupin the 3rd
2:00 a.m. – Naruto Shippūden
2:30 a.m. – Outlaw Star
3:00 a.m. – Cowboy Bebop
3:30 a.m. – Attack on Titan Season 2

Source: ANN

List: My Favorite Sci-Fi Anime

Last time, I shared my five favorite fantasy anime. This time, the science fiction genre gets the focus as I share my five favorite sci-fi anime. Instead of being a top 5 list that ranks these series, I am listing them in alphabetical order.

Cowboy Bebop

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. This unusual group of people travel the universe as bounty hunters. Many of the episodes focus on a particular bounty that the crew is trying to apprehend, and sometimes there will be an emphasis placed on the backstory for one of the main characters.

One thing that makes Cowboy Bebop stand out is how the series is able to combine several different influences you wouldn’t normally expect to see together, yet the writing makes these disparate influences work well together. Over the course of 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. The series perfectly infuses lots of Western influences into it, and combining this with the storytelling, characters, and the music, it becomes a very enjoyable anime to watch. It’s this uniqueness that helps Cowboy Bebop rank among my top five favorite sci-fi anime.

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an anime film produced by Toei Animation and supervised by Leiji Matsumoto. The members of the band Daft Punk specifically asked Matsumoto to make this film to bring their Discovery album to life.

One of the most fascinating things about this film is the fact that the story is only told through animation, music, and minimal sound effects; there is absolutely no dialogue in the film. However, the lack of dialogue doesn’t hurt the production, because a viewer can piece together what’s taking place in the story with relative ease.

The story features for blue-skinned aliens who perform together in a band. They are kidnapped by humanoids, their memories are altered, and their skin color is changed to make them look human. The kidnapper, who makes himself their manager, also implants mind-control devices on the band members. A pilot named Shep, who is the same race as the blue-skinned alien band, tries to free the band from their captor’s control.

Overall, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem is an incredible viewing experience, and Matsumoto was able to effectively utilize the music and visuals to convey the story.

Martian Successor Nadesico

The series takes place in 2196, a year after a race of aliens known as the “Jovian Lizards” attacked Earth’s colonies on Mars. Earth is now at war with the aliens, and a company called Nergal designs a battleship known as the ND-001 Nadesico.

The main protagonist of the series is Akito Tenkawa, a young man who had once resided in Mars’ Utopia colony and escaped its destruction. When he escaped, he awakens on Earth with no memory of how he got there; however, he has a fear of the Jovian Lizards. He doesn’t want to fight and dreams of becoming a chef. After a chance encounter with his childhood friend, Yurika Misumaru, he ends up on the Nadesico; Yurika is the ship’s captain. After coming on board, Akito is constantly asked to act as a pilot for an Aestivalis, which is a humanoid combat robot.

There are actually quite a few characters among the crew of the Nadesico, and they all add something important to the mix. But even with all of these characters, the primarily focus falls onto Akito. The series follows him as he changes from the frightened young man who’s forced to pilot a mecha and fight the enemy to someone who’s more decisive and realizes what it is that he needs to do.

Martian Successor Nadesico has a mix of comedy and drama, but the mixture works well for the story that’s being told in the series. While the characters either fall into character types or may be exaggerated at times, I still came to like them and to care about them. Ruri was one of my favorite characters, and I never got tired of her constantly referring to the rest of the crew as “fools.”

As I watched Martian Successor Nadesico, I found myself recognizing references from some earlier mecha and space opera anime series. I was primarily finding references to Space Battleship Yamato and Super Dimension Fortress Macross, and I believe I even found a couple of references to Neon Genesis Evangelion and Mobile Suit Gundam in this series.

One of my favorite elements, though, was that Gekigangar III, an anime that’s popular in the world of Martian Successor Nadesico, became an “anime within an anime.” But it’s not included just to help provide some of the jokes and humor in the series; it actually plays an important role in the story of Martian Successor Nadesico.

Neon Genesis Evangelion

The story of Neon Genesis Evangelion goes back to the year 2000, when a global catastrophe known as the “Second Impact” occurred. During this event, Antarctica was destroyed, and half of the human population of Earth was wiped out. The government announced that the cause of the disaster was due to a large meteorite landing on Antarctica. However, it turns out the “Second Impact” was caused by experiments authorized by an organization called Seele; the experiments were actually done by a research organization called Gehirn. They were experimenting on “beings” that are referred to as Angels and Adam.

Three years later, Gehrin evolved into a paramilitary organization called NERV, which is located in Tokyo-3, a militarized civilian city located in one of the last dry areas of Japan. Seele has given NERV the mission to locate the remaining Angels and destroy them, and accomplishing this through developing biomechanical mecha called Evas. Each Eva has its own designated pilot, and operates by synchronizing the pilot’s soul and the human soul inside the Eva; this is done by using a liquid substance known as LCL.

The series itself starts in the year 2015, and the main focus is on Shinji Ikari, the 14-year-old son of Commander Ikari. Shinji is ultimately guilt tripped into piloting an Eva after seeing Rei Ayanami, an Eva pilot who has been injured. Shinji suffers from anxiety, depression, lack of self esteem, and loneliness, which are qualities that probably aren’t the best for an Eva pilot. When Asuka Sohryu Langley joins the other two as a pilot, this causes more problems for Shinji.

Neon Genesis Evangelion seems to start out normally enough, but as the series progresses, the viewer comes to realize there’s a lot more going on than there appears on the surface. By the end of the series, there’s been a serious look at the psyches of all three of the main Eva pilots. While the evolution of the feel and storytelling of the series can be a little frustrating the first time you watch the series, it actually turns out that this element is what makes Neon Genesis Evangelion stand out from other sci-fi anime. The series ultimately takes things to “the next level,” and it’s a series you’ll never forget after you’ve watched it. For me, I find that I gain a greater appreciation for the series each time I see it.

Space Battleship Yamato

Not only does Space Battleship Yamato rank among my top five favorite sci-fi anime, it also ranks among my top five anime from the 1970s and 1980s.

I first encountered this series when I was a young child; of course, at that time, I saw the English dubbed version, which aired in the United States under the title of Star Blazers. I’ve never had the opportunity to see this series in its original Japanese version, but I have seen the first five anime films in the franchise in Japanese.

As a child, and even now when I watch this series as an adult, I’m riveted by the quest of the first series. The story features a group of people going out into space and into the unknown in order to make a journey to a distant planet to obtain a machine that will rid the Earth of the pollution that was brought about by “planet bombs” dropped onto our world by an alien race. It’s fascinating to see this crew trying to adapt to being together on a spaceship, leaving the known galaxy, and heading out into the unknown.

With the second series, it was interesting to see how the Earth had been rebuilt after the successful completion of the mission in the first series. As a kid, I always thought it kind of sucked that Earth was in danger again from the Coment Empire after being restored to its former glory.  While this series didn’t have quite the epic scope as the first one, it still included some mystery and intrigue.

While I have seen the third series, The Bolar Wars, on two or three occasions as an adult, I have to admit that I don’t remember it as well as the other two series. That’s probably due to the fact that my sister and I taped the Iscandar and Comet Empire episodes off of television and had the ability to watch them over and over as we were growing up, so I have the nostalgia to go with that. The Bolar Wars isn’t bad, but it’s just not as memorable to me.

List: My Favorite Anime Dogs

Last time, I shared a list of my five favorite anime cats. To make things fair, this time I’m sharing a list of my five favorite anime dogs. Rather than being a top 5 list, however, I am presenting my choices in alphabetical order.

Akamaru from Naruto

We first officially meet Akamaru in the Naruto anime during the Chunin Exam arc. When the audience first seems him, he comes across as simply being a cute little puppy. But as Kiba battles with Naruto during the exam preliminaries, it’s revealed that there’s more to this little puppy than meets the eye. The Beast Human Clone transformation technique is impressive, and shows how he works well with Kiba. While that certainly is impressive, my favorite technique of Akamaru’s will always be Dynamic Marking.

During the first Naruto anime, we get to see Akamaru help out on missions, primarily with his sense of smell. But I think Akamaru’s finest moments came during the Sasuke Retrieval Arc, when he fought alongside Kiba against Sakon and Ukon.

But when it comes to Akamaru, I have to admit that I liked him a lot more during the episodes of the first Naruto anime. I don’t know why, but the Akamaru that appears in Naruto Shippuden after the timeskip just isn’t as interesting. Maybe it’s because he’s grown a lot and is no longer the cute little puppy, but it also seems to me that Akamaru as a character was also less interesting in Naruto Shippuden.

Black Hayate from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Black Hayate was a stray dog found by Master Sergeant Kain Fuery, and he was trying desperately to find someone to take him in, since his dorm would not allow him to keep a pet. Lt. Riza Hawkeye offered to take the dog in, and was the one who gave him his name.

Black Hayate turns out to be an awesome dog who accompanies Hawkeye and the others on missions. Not only is he obedient, it turns out that he has an ability to sense Homunculi. Because of this ability, Mustang gives Black Hayate an unofficial rank of Second Lieutenant.

I really enjoyed Black Hayate’s depiction in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood much more than his depiction in the original Fullmetal Alchemist anime. In Brotherhood, Black Hayate seemed to be treated much more like an actual character than simply as a prop.

Black Hayate is an adorable dog, but he can be strong when he wants to be. Don’t let his cute looks deceive you.

Chouchou from One Piece

Chouchou is introduced during the first story arc that featured Buggy the Clown. Luffy and the other Straw Hats encounter him in Orange Town, guarding his owner’s pet shop. When they first meet, the dog swallows the key to the cage where Luffy was being held by Buggy’s subordinates. So it wasn’t a great initial meeting, but as the Straw Hats and the audience learned about Chouchou’s backstory, he became a much more likable character.

It turns out that Hocker, his owner, had left to go to the doctor. Sadly, Hocker died of an unknown illness and never returned. Even though it seems Chouchou knew deep down inside that Hocker was never coming back, he refused to leave his post and kept his vigil in front of the shop. Chouchou made sure the guard the store from any intruders. So when Chouchou tries to fight against Richie and is defeated, it’s a sad enough event. But to have Chouchou also see his beloved pet shop burn down to the ground was heartbreaking to me as a viewer.

Chouchou’s loyalty and backstory is ultimately what sold me on him, and is why he appears on this list.

Ein from Cowboy Bebop

Ein is a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with greatly enhanced intelligence, and is known as a “data dog.” Ein was stolen from a research facility in the second episode of the series, and Spike ends up with the dog after he apprehends the guy who stole him.

Ein becomes an important fixture on board the Bebop, even though most of the crew members don’t seem to realize it. After Ed joins the crew, the two of them seem to be inseparable. Ed seems to be the only one who can understand Ein through his body language and his barks. Since Ein doesn’t talk, his intelligence seems to go unnoticed by most of the others, which allows him to be treated more like a normal dog.

While it seems like Ein is part of the cast for comic relief, he also has some legitimately great moments in the series that aren’t on the comical side. He’s actually done some things that ultimately either keep the crew of the Bebop out of trouble. Ein is an awesome dog that I think just about any dog lover would want to be able to own.

Ein makes this list due to just how awesome of a dog he is.

Pakkun from Naruto

I normally try not to have more than one item on a list from the same series, but I just couldn’t choose between Akamaru and Pakkun. While they may appear in the same property, these two dogs are very different from each other.

Pakkun is one of Kakashi’s ninja hounds, and unlike Akamaru, has the ability to use human speech. Even though Pakkun may look small and cute, he has a deep and gruff voice. He’s also fiercely proud, even though he gives off a lazy demeanor. When Pakkun was first introduced outside of the group of ninja hounds, it was funny to see this little dog with a gruff voice talking proudly about his supple paws.

Since Pakkun can use human speech, he can give commentary on what’s happening around him. He also tells it like it is, which is definitely one of Pakkun’s defining characteristics. This is a big part of the reason why he made it onto my list.

Sunrise to Co-Produce Live-Action Cowboy Bebop Television Series

Variety and Deadline are both reporting that Tomorrow Studios, a partnership between producer Marty Adelstein and ITV Studios, will produce a live-action television series adaptation of the 1998 television anime Cowboy Bebop. Chris Yost will write the adaptation.

Sunrise, the studio that animated the original series, will executive produce the live-action series. Other executive producers will include Adelstein, Becky Clements, Midnight Radio, and Matthew Weinberg. Midnight Radio is composed of Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, and Scott Rosenberg.

Adelstein said, “We are excited to work with Sunrise in bringing this beloved anime to the U.S. and global marketplace as a live-action series.” The producer also said, “The animated version has long resonated with audiences worldwide, and with the continued, ever growing, popularity of anime, we believe a live action version will have an incredible impact today.”

Source: ANN

Tubi TV Adds More Anime to Its Catalog

Tubi TV has announced that it has added the following anime titles to its catalog:

  • Buddy Complex
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • .hack//SIGN
  • Aquarion Evol
  • .hack//Roots
  • Aquarion
  • .hack//Legend of the Twilight
  • Space Dandy
  • Ouran High School Host Club
  • Dance with Devils

All of these titles are streaming on Tubi TV with Japanese audio and English subtitles.

Source: ANN

Anime Blu-ray Review: Cowboy Bebop The Complete Series

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
Format: Blu-ray
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”).

Cowboy Bebop and Deadman Wonderland Returning to Toonami

It has been announced that when Toonami returns to its regular broadcast schedule in January 2015, there will be a couple of changes to the lineup.

Cowboy Bebop will be returning to the block and will be broadcast for the first time in HD starting with the first episode, “Asteroid Blues.” Jason DeMarco, the head of the Toonami block, says that the series will be re-edited to fit current broadcast standards on Adult Swim.

In addition, it has also been announced that Deadman Wonderland will be returning to the block.

Source: Crunchyroll