Cowboy Bebop is finally here! With Netflix bringing a lot to the anime genre these last few years, but the standard of live-action anime adaptations not being very satisfying for fans in the past, we have been at a loss as to what we should expect from the CowboyBebop live-action series. But the wait is over. The series has dropped, we watched it, and we're here to tell you what we think!
What We Loved About the New Bebop Adventure
THE MUSIC <3
It is no secret that the Cowboy Bebop animated series had an excellent soundtrack. For the live-action adaptation, the original composer, Yoko Kanno, was brought back into the mix. Yoko Kanno did a remarkable job with the first Cowboy Bebop music installment, and she delivered just as exceptionally this time as well. Cowboy Bebop has always had music as a great trait, and we were thrilled to see it remain true here. You can expect to see scenes from the original series reenacted with the same music as the animated version, as well as plenty of new concoctions from Yoko Kanno.
Visuals and Effects
Something that Cowboy Bebop does well are the visual adaptations of things that came from an animation! Episode one features a space casino that is a direct copy of an animation that flies by in a single scene of the original series. They brought it to life with a great deal of subtlety that doesn't suggest the anime series at all. We only noticed it on the rewatch. (Yes, we rewatched it.) Other aspects of space are also well done. We are calling it a win in the graphics department as well.
When we talk about things that went well, Spike, Jet, and Faye all turned out great. Spike Spiegel is a carefree jerk of a bounty hunter, who gets the job done, dresses well, and always has an amount of style in his movements. Jet Black is a real equal comparison to the ex-cop from the animated series, who has his head on straight and needs Spike to quit making their situation harder. Last but not least, Fays Valentine is every bit the bad b*tch she was the first time around. An excellent job was done with the casting of the leading trio of this series.
A Better Adventure for Faye Valentine
Faye Valentine is the takes-no-shit survivor trying to make sense of a world in which she has amnesia and figure out her own history. Brought to life by Daniella Pineda, Faye is cute and quirky and has a lot of guts. In this live-action series, Faye's character gets even more depth as she hooks up with a female mechanic who does some work on the Bebop and contemplates some aspects of her sexuality in the following episodes. It is just a small thing in the series, but we are not unhappy with any of the liberties taken here.
Spike and Jet's Partner Banter Is to Die for
Spike and Jet have a great relationship as partners, which comes out with enthusiasm in the new series. These two seen-it-all cowboys have a kind of back and forth wit that is highly enjoyable across the ten-episode spread. Spike and Jet have clearly been at this a while, and while they may bicker about the costs of their destruction with their bounty payouts, Jet would always put his partner over his pocketbook… in a life-threatening situation, that is. They have each other's back, but they don't pull their punches when discussing who was the jerk in the most recent crisis. Faye joins the crew and is excellent in her own right, but the fun relationship that Spike and Jet have is one that you will enjoy throughout the series!
"Annie" Was So Much Better
Ana is Spike's inside friend from the old days who has a lot of information on the current state of the politics and whereabouts of different people. In the anime, Ana is a country-accented lady who sits behind the counter of her convenience store and drinks while she thinks about what things used to be. The new adaptation has really made Annie into a better character. In this telling, Ana is played by Tamara Tunie. "Annie," as Spike calls her, is the head of a popular nightclub frequented by criminals and law enforcement alike.
Live-Action Telling Has a Different Focus
In the animated series, the relationship between Spike, Vicious, and Julia is less talked about and not a real point of focus. The whole of live-action season one seems to be centered around Spike's unknown and unusual past. More than that, it is about how he doesn't want to own up to Jet that he used to work for the Syndicate after being partners for so long. The new series also focuses on the triangle between Spike, Vicious, and Julia in ways any Cowboy Bebop fan will appreciate.
What We Hope They Change Before Another Installment
It Was Too Literal of an Adaptation in Some Areas
The creators were careful to recreate many things from the original production, and there were a few choices we would have liked to see them reconsider. For example, artsy blood spatter in anime can be very effective, but in the live-action adaptation, excessive blood for the situation takes away some of the seriousness of the scene and makes it sillier than it should be. For example, there are moments where Spike will one-shot a villain, and they fall to the ground, leaving a blood smear half the size of their body. It's silly, and it takes away from some of the action we were getting into.
We want to pause and say that some of the literalness in adaptation was exciting and reminded us of the original production right away. We loved the space cowboy commercials, and you will too. Additionally, the technology isn't too updated from the original animated series, and there's a sense of nostalgia that comes with that choice.
The Fighting Choreography Was Very "Anime"
In addition to the questionable choices on how much blood is overkill, the other thing we really would have liked to see reconsidered is the fight scene choreography. It feels clunky and forced. In season two, we would love to see a reconsideration of whether or not some of those fight scene moves were too silly and asking how much silliness they can put into this before it gets to be distracting. There is something loyal to the original series by remaking scenes that were drawn back in the nineties, but the choreography feels very dated by today's standards
Edward! What did they DO to you?!
It is not often that the last scene of an entire series brings the whole thing down a notch, but goodness, did the creators terrify us with Edward's introduction. We won't spoil the specific moment, but when we meet Edward, they come off as an energetic and rambunctious person, but THAT HAIR. The creators gave this character candy apple red hair and put too much emphasis on making them wear goggles (which they made light up on the front) when we first see them. Yes, it is great to remake scenes, but this one was too jarring for the final episode of the series.
First impressions are lasting, and live-action anime adaptations have a lot to overcome already. This was not a great moment, but there is plenty of time for Netflix to get feedback. In any case, while the series was a fun watch, fans who love the series have a hard time with the Edward that was presented to us.
Season Two Possible
The Series Ends with a Beginning
We have already discussed how the series will have to make up for Edward's introduction, but let's pause and mention what that meeting was. Edward becomes one of the crew members of the Bebop, and it was their first time meeting! It seems that Spike Spiegel has a reputation as a space cowboy, and Edward is all about meeting him. It looks like Edward is about to let Spike in on the fact that Ein isn't an average dog, so presumably, that will be the focus of the next season.
Overall, we call this a win! The series was an enjoyable watch, and even though there are things we hope that the creators look into before a season two is made, nothing but Edward's introduction was truly cringe-worthy. Since we only met Edward for one bizarre scene, this is something that can be overcome, and it does not mean that the first nine episodes were a bust! If you haven't decided whether you want to watch it, just watch it. No rewatch is necessary. Netflix made some killer characters come to life, and it is worth a binge. Have you seen this yet? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!