This page is for the 2001 animated film directed by Shinichirō Watanabe.
For information on the upcoming live action film, see: Cowboy Bebop: Live Action Film.
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)
Directed by: Shinichirō Watanabe
Produced by: Masahiko Minami

Minoru Takanashi

Masuo Ueda

Written by: Screenplay:

Keiko Nobumoto


Hajime Yatate

Starring: Kōichi Yamadera Spike

Unshō Ishizuka Jet

Megumi Hayashibara Faye

Aoi Tada Edward

Ai Kobayashi Electra

Tsutomu Isobe Vincent

Music by: Yoko Kanno & The Seatbelts

Herbie Hancock & V.S.O.P.

Cinematography by: Yōichi Ōgami
Editing by: Shūichi Kakesu
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Entertainment

TriStar Pictures

Release date: Sept. 1, 2001 (Japan)

Aug. 11, 2002 (USA)

Running time: 115 min.
Language: Japanese


Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (劇場版 カウボーイビバップ 天国の扉 Gekijōban Kaubōi Bibappu: Tengoku no Tobira?, known in Japan as Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door, also known as Cowboy Bebop: Heaven's Door in English), is the 2001 animated film directed by Shinichirō Watanabe.

The plot centers on Spike Spiegel and the crew of Bebop as they search for a criminal who is planning to release a virus on Mars.

Opening on September 1, 2001 in Japan and in the U.S. on August 11, 2002, the film grossed over $3 million worldwide[1] and received positive reviews.


The year is 2071, a few days before Halloween. A deadly virus is being released on the populace 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 and Ed, take the case with hopes of cashing in the great bounty. But the mystery surrounding the man responsible, Vincent , goes deeper than they ever imagined, and they aren't the only ones hunting him; the original creators of the virus have dispatched Elektra to deal with Vincent and take out anyone who may stumble on the truth behind him. 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.

Characters and Voice CastEdit

Japanese voice 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 Edward
Tsutomu Isobe Daran Norris Vincent Volaju
Ai Kobayashi Jennifer Hale Elektra Ovirowa
Mickey Curtis Nicholas Guest Rasheed
Yuji Ueda Dave Wittenberg Lee Sampson


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.[3] 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.[3]

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.[3]

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.[3]

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."[3]

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.[3]

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.[3]


Reception to the film was generally positive, earning a 70% score on Rotten Tomatoes.[4] For example, the BBC gave it 4.5 out of 5 stars, calling it "an example of anime at its very best."[5] A positive review on fansite The Jazz Messengers, which gave it an A-, indicates that fans of the series were not disappointed.[6] It was nominated in 2004 for the Online Film Critics Society Awards in the Best Animated Feature category.[7]

Homages and real world refernces Edit

  • During the scene where Faye tries to find Vincent from Ed's instructions, she stands before a wall that has references to the television show Law and Order and the film Three Godfathers.
  • The western that Jet and Bob watch at the drive-in is a hybrid of Shane and High Noon.
  • Spookey Kong is highly inspired by Donkey Kong
  • The movie is named after Bob Dylan's song Knocking on Heavens Door
  • The movie was banned in Iran & Iraq due to themes of terrorism and Middle Eastern setting.
  • Among the 'antique' planes seen in the movie are the Supermarine Spitfire, Fokker Dr.I Dreidecker, Faerie Swordfish, P-38 Lightning, F-84 Thunderjet, TBF Avenger, F/A-18 Hornet, and the A6M5 Zero.
  • Contrary to popular belief, there was no rotoscoping or tracing used for the lifelike characters in the opening credits.
  • Guest directors include Hiroyuki Okiura and Tensai Okamura, who directed the opening and the "Western film-within-the-film" respectively. Shinichirô Watanabe chose to use guest directors as those sections were quite different from the body of the film; and also because of the time restrictions.
  • Much to the chagrin of fellow staff members, half way through production the movie extended from a ninety minute film to a two hour film.
  • In the shots showing the T-shirt salesman, the T-shirt in the very lower left says "Bones", which is one of the production studios responsible for Cowboy Bebop: The Movie, and made up of former members of Sunrise, who created the show.
  • The opening scene in the film is highly inspired by Pulp Fiction especially with its motifs



  1. Cowboy Bebop. Box Office Mojo. Retrieved on 2009-01-27.

External LinksEdit