Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop‘ is here after being first shown off in October 2019. The live-action anime adaptation has been long-awaited and nervously anticipated, with fans being unsure of Netflix’s & Western media’s capability to make a good live-action anime adaptation. ‘Death Note‘ was rather mediocre, and the less said about ‘FullMetal Alchemist‘, the better. For those who are worried, I have extremely good news for you. Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is the best live-action anime adaptation that I’ve seen in quite some time.
Get everybody and the stuff together OK, three, two, one Let’s jam
OK so first off, we have the cast to discuss. John Cho’s Spike Spiegel is pitch-perfect to the Spike Spiegel of the Cowboy Bebop anime while not being a carbon copy. Sure, the important character beats and characteristics are there, but he brings something else to the role in the form of his body language and physical actions, and his chemistry with the rest of the cast is insane.
For example, Alex Hassell’s Vicious and Cho’s Spike have a historical rivalry, and everything the actors do with the script serves to show this off further. Mustafa Shakir (You may remember him from Luke Cage season 2, in which he played Bushmaster!) plays the partner of Spiegel, Jet Black, and for the first few episodes of the show, the pair work together and with nobody else, attempting to find enough money to not only survive but to provide for his daughter. Shakir allows for the show to flex its heart, with everything he does for the first half of the season being an attempt to purchase a doll for his daughter. The final segment of the lead cast is Daniella Pineda’s Faye Valentine, probably the most controversial casting choice (for absolutely no reason at all, the internet works in mysterious and awful ways), whose entire performance proves naysayers wrong. She’s wonderfully perfect casting for Valentine, with the cockiness and banter that you expect from the character. Her relationship with Spike mirrors that of the anime, with them constantly bumping heads with each other.
While the anime offers shorter bursts of this world, the live-action show takes the time to set up the griminess and gritty reality of it. It’s not going to be for everybody, and that’s OK. If you don’t care for it, you always have the anime, but if you want to know more about this world, both the world and the criminal underworld, get ready to get sunk in. I know fans of the anime were somewhat skeptical if this live-action adaption could live up to the legendary anime. While that’s still up to you, to decide ultimately, there’s no mistaking that the vibe of the world has been painstaking captured and put on display.
Each episode of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is an hour-long, double the size of your traditional anime episode of the show. You’d think this would mean padding would be frequent, and you’d feel the unnecessary weight of extra content slowing down each episode, but you’d be quite wrong. With the exception of the pilot, which does suffer from some minor pacing issues, every episode rushes by and doesn’t even feel like it lasts an hour, to the point where I was craving more of the show once I finished it (and yes, the show does end with the possible tease of a second season on the horizon).
The episodes themselves build up a story arc that culminates (sort of, with the door left wide open for a second season at the end of the show) in the final episode, taking elements and storytelling from the original anime and changing it to suit a live-action long-form narrative. Breathtaking horizons and a huge variety of planets make the show just enthralling and engrossing to a level I’ve not experienced in science fiction storytelling for a long time. For those who are worried about the music of Cowboy Bebop, given how essential and how integral it is to the show, there’s no need to fret. Yoko Kanno returns to compose all the series’ music, while the theme song from the original show (Tank!) also returns. It’s all done so perfectly, completely, and utterly. I’m waiting with bated breath for the music to be added to a streaming service so I can listen to it whenever I want.
As for those wanting to know just how faithful the show is to the anime, well, again, that’s going to be up to you. To be honest, I’m convinced that is my favorite anime to live-adaption in a very long time, though you might be thinking otherwise. Either way, it’s definitely worth the watch.
Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is the most shocking triumph of 2021. There’s never been an anime adaptation to hit these highs and stay there so consistently, and the ever-present fear of this adaptation being bad is thus understandable. But if I can offer you, the reader, one solitary piece of advice, it’s this. Give the show a chance, and you’ll be hooked from start to finish.
Netflix’s Cowboy Bepop will premiere on November 19, 2021, only on Netflix.
Name: Netflix's Cowboy Bebop
Description: Netflix's Cowboy Bebop is the most shocking triumph of 2021. There's never been an anime adaptation to hit these highs and stay there so consistently and the ever-present fear of this adaptation being bad is thus understandable. But if I can offer you advice, stick with this show. You'll find something special, fellow Cowboy.