With enough Dutch angles per minute to give Danny Boyle an excuse to sue on intellectual property grounds, the live-action Cowboy Bebop isn’t distracting, but it is the victim of a disease commonly known as ‘netflix bloat,
It is something that you have experienced, even if it is subconsciously. The real effects of Netflix bloat can be felt around the halfway point of shows like Jessica Jones, Altered Carbon, and Lost in Space — all event shows that were big enough to be promoted on billboards in Noida. It was generally believed that they would have been much better off if they were smaller.
With 10 episodes of varying lengths ranging from 40-60 minutes, Cowboy Bebop lacks the slick sentimentality of the original anime. Instead, it’s a visually ambitious romp that’s no doubt mostly because the two Guardians of the Galaxy movies have become successful. But in a classic example of Hollywood misogyny about what makes a property great—after Tim Burton’s Batman, the industry decided it wasn’t the superheroes that they should be milking, but the ’40s pulp character—Cowboy Bebop. Western syntax leans on space storytelling, not the emotionally driven core that made Guardians movies so special.
John Cho (controversially) plays Spike Spiegel, a former mob hitman who has carved out a new life for himself as a galaxy-hopping bounty hunter. Accompanied by ex-cop Jet Black, rival bounty hunter Faye Valentine and a corgi named Ein, he goes on episodic adventures, while at the same time trying to escape the ghosts of the past.
And that, in short, is where the show will divide the audience. You can either appreciate the zany narrative – as can sometimes be – or you can focus on the characters’ backstories, as they often are. Spike was once in love, but the girl turned away. All his attempts to drive her away have failed dramatically. Played by Elena Satin, Julia is a classic femme fatale, and is now in an abusive relationship with Spike’s nemesis, a white-haired man named Vicious.
Like the Guardian films, and largely Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Cowboy Bebop was (and is) a story about a found family—about a ragtag group of misfits who, in the confines of a clunky spaceship, not just a seek the other, but not the soft sound, also the will to live. Shinichiro Watanabe’s cartoon—which is also available on Netflix, by the way—was ahead of the curve in many ways, and somehow represented millennial concerns even before its target audience arrived. Like other great existentialist anime—Neon Genesis Evangelion—Cowboy Bebop was instrumental in introducing international audiences to Japanese animation. In other words, it was the kind of crossover hit Hrithik Roshan wanted Kites to be.
But what the cartoon achieved so effortlessly—thanks in no small part to its heavy Western influences, from jazz music to film noir and cowboy movies—the live-action version regularly ties itself into knots. Should it meet the needs of viewers who have watched the animated series, or should it just do its job and create an identity of its own? Ultimately, the live-action show does neither, nor does it only capture the most obvious aspects of the cartoon—the aesthetic. But what’s interesting is that it never turns out to be a show imitating westerns from noir films; it turns out to be a show that is imitating one more The show’s imprint on what Western and Noir films are.
For all its visual flair—there’s a charmingly retro vibe at play here that evokes campy sci-fi movies of the ’50s—by the time the show really gets into the flesh of the matter, eight episodes have passed. , and you would have checked all out.
The only saving grace here is the cast. Cho creates a charismatic and enigmatic Spike, while Mustafa Shakir injects the right amount of humanity into the jet. But it is Daniela Pineda who stands out. After initially giving off some serious Anne Hathaway-hosting-the-Oscars energy, she eventually wins you over with her enthusiasm. Pineda almost makes you care about the show. And it is noble.