Follow TV Tropes


Anime / Cowboy Bebop: Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Go To
Are you living in the real world?

Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven's Doornote  is a 2001 anime sci-fi film based off the popular show of the same name. It serves as a Interquel to the series, as the events of the film take place chronologically between episodes 22 and 23 of the show. It was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe with assistance from Hiroyuki Okiura (A Letter to Momo) and Tensai Okamura (Darker Than Black), with the screenplay written by Keiko Nobumoto, who also wrote and co-wrote 11 episodes of the main series, and was released on September 1, 2001.

The Bebop crew — Spike (Kōichi Yamadera), Jet (Unshō Ishizuka), Faye (Megumi Hayashibara), Ed (Aoi Tada), and Ein — are going about their usual bounty hunter business when a bomb goes off in a city on Mars. The culprit, Vincent Volaju, soon has a sizeable bounty placed on his head. The gang jumps at the chance to catch Vincent Volaju (Tsutomu Isobe) and claim the reward, but soon discover a deeper well of conspiracy and revenge that puts the fate of the city — and the lives of the Bebop crew—at stake.


The film also stars Ai Kobayashi as Elektra Ovilo, Renji Ishibashi as Rengie and Mickey Curtis as Rashid.

The dub of the film was released in theaters for a limited run in 2003 before going to DVD.

Cowboy Bebop: Knockin on Heaven's Door contains the following movie-exclusive tropes:

  • Action Prologue: The movie begins on an unrelated bit with Spike and Jet trying to catch a group of low-level thugs at a convenience store.
  • All Just a Dream: Or Was It in that the film may or may not be just a dream: it starts with Spike falling asleep and ends with him waking up. There's also a bit in the middle where Spike has a vision of Jet, and judging by the layout of the ship, Spike would be lying in the exact same spot where we see him in the beginning and end.
  • Anachronism Stew: Several scenes look like they could be set on present day Earth rather than a Mars colony in the future.
  • Advertisement:
  • The Atoner: Vincent ultimately let Elektra kill him when he regains his memories to both atone for his actions and apologize to his former lover.
  • Attempted Rape: Vincent cuts open Faye's shirt and threatens her, but before he could do anymore, one of his lackeys shows up for his money and Vincent kills him.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: "Pushing the Sky," which plays in the final battle with Vincent.
  • Battle in the Rain: Spike and Vincent's final battle qualifies.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Moroccan Street is one of these.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Vincent Volaju was once a clean-shaven short-haired man, judging by the picture taken of him when he was still in the military. His Sanity Slippage caused him to grow a beard and apparently stop cutting, or even combing, his hair.
  • Bland-Name Product: Both played straight (a WcDonald's sign over a subway entrance) and averted (a canopy over a shop entrance clearly has "Coca-Cola" on it).
  • Bookends: The first and the final action scene both end with the criminals threatening to kill innocents, and Spike telling them to go ahead and do it because he knows he can stop them before anyone else gets hurt.
  • Butterfly of Death and Rebirth: A side-effect of the nanomachine virus causes people to see illuminated orange butterflies before death.
  • The Cameo: You can see Cowboy Andy — or "Samurai Musashi", in this case — from episode 22 of the series during the parade scene.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The movie brings in one from the series. Remember that poker chip from "Honky Tonk Woman"? In the movie, Elektra breaks one in half to scramble Spike's tracking device. Those chips can seemingly be used to hide all manner of electronics.
  • Chickification: Faye gets a bad case of this in the movie, what with her not being able catch a pudgy hacker and spending a sizeable amount of time as a captive of Vincent.
  • Climactic Elevator Ride: Spike has one before the final battle with Vincent.
  • Darker and Edgier: Downplayed example, since the series got fairly dark at times. There's noticeably more on-screen violence than the typical Cowboy Bebop episode, especially involving civilian casualties as bystanders get killed during Spike and Vincent's fight on the train even before Vincent unleashes another nanoweapon bomb. Also, Vincent's treatment of Faye once he captures her: he cuts her shirt open with a knife and gives every indication that he's about to rape her until another character interrupts them.
  • Dub Name Change: The film was retitled Cowboy Bebop: The Movie in the U.S. because the distribution company could not secure the rights to use "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" from the song's copyright holders.
  • Feel No Pain: This is apparently a side effect of the nanomachine virus, at least for Vincent. He barely registers any pain despite being punched, kicked, and even shot at one point.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Since it's set late in the series and prior to the closing stretch of episodes, the crew of the Bebop (not to mention their spacecrafts) will all survive the events of the film. However, given the ambiguity of the ending and whether or not the film was actually all just a dream of Spike's, it can alternately be argued if the trope was ever really in play or not.
  • For the Evulz: The film never really clarifies the motive for Vincent's rampage. He does what he does because, as he puts it, he feels like he is in a dream from which he can cannot awaken. He believes that if he does something extreme enough in this "dream," it will basically shock him awake so he can be in the "real" world.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Spike suffers one before his final fight with Vincent thanks to the latter shooting the former at point blank range in an earlier fight.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Cherious Medical Pharmaceutical Company (which is actually a front for the military) wants Vincent captured because he was a test subject for pathogen warfare and the process made him insane. The company wants him caught — or dead — to hide both how it experimented on him and how the tests led to the creation of a biological weapon.
  • Grand Finale: The film does not count as this chronologically, but given how the movie came out after the series — and the events of the series from episode 23 to the end — this is, in every way possible, the last big adventure of the Bebop crew as a whole.
  • The Greatest Story Never Told: The Bebop crew prevents the nanovirus from spreading and saves the city on Mars. But no one will ever know that they saved the city, and they receive no reward for their efforts other than staying alive for another day.
  • Gun Twirling: Spike does this to great effect (not to mention just oozing style) in the opening sequence. For those viewers for whom the film is their introduction to the characters, it was a definitive Spike moment to start them out.
  • Halloween Episode: The whole movie takes place around Halloween.
  • How Much More Can He Take?: Vincent becomes one of the few people who obviously outclasses Spike in personal combat. Spike does a little better in the last battle with Vincent — at least before the virus kicks in.
  • Incredibly Conspicuous Drag: While Ed is looking for Lee, she comes across a crossdresser who has stubble and a bit too much muscle to pull off the look.
  • Interservice Rivalry: The ISSP and the Army squabble over who gets to stop Vincent's plan to spread The Plague through the water supply. His "plan", however, is a distraction from the actual plan.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: Spike does this in the middle of the movie to infiltrate Cherious Medical Pharmaceutical Company. Elektra sees through the disguise before he can get too far inside.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: A small envoy of military fighters intercept Spike, then launch a simple pair of missiles at him. When the missles get close to the Swordfish, however, they split into about a dozen rockets each.
  • Magic Skirt: Vincent cuts open Faye's halter top while she is tied up. The top opens up a bit, but does not fully expose her chest, and it stays in place when she wriggles around trying to free herself. Maybe she was wearing costume tape.note 
  • Menacing Hand Shot: After Vincent knocks Faye to the ground, there's a POV shot from her perspective as he pulls out and opens his switchblade.
  • The Movie: Shinichiro Watanabe says the movie takes place between episodes 22 and 23 of the series. This can also be inferred from the film, as Andy appears as Musashi during the Halloween party — which means episode 22 has already happened — but "Big Shot" has not yet been cancelled, which happens in episode 23.
  • Only a Lighter: The movie features a lighter shaped like a grenade at one point.
  • Put Down Your Gun and Step Away:
    • One of the robbers attempts this with Spike at the start of the movie. Naturally, it fails.
    • Elektra tries this with Vincent when he has Spike pinned and at gunpoint. It fails; Spike nearly dies as a result.
  • Schrödinger's Butterfly: Spike wonders if this is all the dream of a butterfly, and one lands on his hand.
  • Suicide by Cop: Vincent regains his memory at the last moment, then lets Elektra kill him to atone for his actions.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Vincent is an obvious stand-in for Vicious as an Evil Counterpart to Spike, while Elektra's relationship with Vincent — past lovers who still care about each other — is similar to Julia's relationship with Spike.
  • Titled After the Song:
    • Averted with the movie's subtitle. This trope happens with most of the episode titles in the show, but the film does not pull this off in the English version thanks to rights issues.
    • Subverted with the Japanese subtitle, too, which is called "Knockin' on Heaven's Door" in English text, but the kanji says "Tengoku no tobira", or "Door to heaven".
  • Weather-Control Machine: Mars' weather is man-made and each domed city controls its weather at a control station. Faye breaks in to one and threatens the workers there so they will make in rain, as part of the Bebop crew's plan to stop a terrorist.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Two people help Vincent with his plans throughout the film. Neither of them survive.
    Vincent: When the game's over, there is only one left.