Relatively recently released, COWBOY BEBOP: BEST SESSIONS is a two disc set containing a total of six episodes from the popular anime series. These have just about the same video presentation as the earlier releases, but contain new sound mixes. For the first time, you get Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound in English or Japanese, plus a DTS mix in Japanese only.
I watched Session #5, “Ballad of Fallen Angels” this morning. The new Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound mix is excellent. While the surround isn’t needed for the dialogue scenes, it works really well in scenes featuring music (including the Ave Maria in this episode) and gunfire. The big firefight inside the church leading to Spike getting thrown out the stained glass window has as wide and as glorious an audio mix as you could ask for. For about thirty seconds, you could close your eyes and swear you’re listening to The Matrix.
I tested the DTS track over the closing credits. As usual with DTS mixes, it sounds less forced. The only problem is that the english dubs aren’t included. You either have to understand Japanese or be willing to read the subtitles to listen to the DTS track and understand what’s going on. With CB, the english dubs are better than any dub I’ve ever heard for a foreign film or television show, so I listen to it that way.
The new menus are much nicer than the terrible ones on the original Bandai discs. There’s less animation to slow down the time a new menu pops up, and the design looks more modern.
The discs come in very flimsy cardboard sleeve that makes the X-FILES sleeve look like titanium steel. The images are made up to look like a dupe of the betamax tape that Fay Valentine received in a late episode from the series.
Three episodes for this set were chosen by the director: “Asteroid Blues,” “Ballad of Fallen Angels,” and “Wild Horses.” The other three came from a poll of Bebop fans. I assume this poll was done in Japan. I can’t imagine “Pierre le Fou” not getting chosen in America for a remix. That episode was the first that came to mind, with great potential for surround sound mixing. Instead, we get “Mushroom Samba,” “Waltz for Venus,” and “Hard Luck Woman.” I like the latter two episodes, but SAMBA has never been a favorite of mine.
Overall, this is a boxed set that’s best left for slightly fanatical fans of the series, and those with decent sound systems. I picked my copy up at Buy.com for $25. List price is closer to $35.
2 Responses to “Cowboy Bebop: Best Sessions”