Review: COWBOY BEBOP, Netflix's Adaptation of Beloved Anime Ignores What Made it Great
Let’s start with the good news.
The good news is that the original Cowboy Bebop anime is available for viewing right now on Netflix.
The bad news? Netflix took everything that was fun and wonderful about the original anime series and smothered it to death with needless, additional character arcs and mind-numbingly bad gravitas.
Netflix has been guilty of cutting and pasting original ip’s before, simply recreating someone else’s work for the screen and saying it’s brand new. This time though it probably would have worked in their favor instead of what they’ve done with this adaptation. Their only answer for not copying the anime episode by episode was to emphasise what the original story didn’t place at the forefront of the series, Spike’s past. Thus the showrunners created a larger and dominant storyline with Vicious (a low-rent Witcher variant by the looks of things, poor poor Alex Hassell), his plot to overthrow the Syndicate’s Elders and rise to power, with his wife Julia in tow.
So you’ve buffered your run time with a dull, uninspired and tired story of a villainous coup to try to make your show’s bad guy more interesting. The showrunners also created a penultimate episode solely devoted to Spike and Vicious’ backstory. If that is what you think fans of the original show wanted you could not be further from the truth. All of this drama completely deflates whatever eb and flow the episodes do manage to conjure up; a real one step forward two steps back kind of scenario.
There is very little bounty hunting in the new series. Almost laughable is the effort put in by the actors brought in for a scarce glimpse of Punch and Judy, hosts of the bounty hunter show, Big Shot. It was like they were given clips from the show and told they had an hour to be able to mimic the anime personas on screen. Tragic. An entire episode was devoted to Spike and Faye arguing about which bounty to go after, without leaving the ship and going after one.
The little fighting there is, is predictably chopped and edited to ribbons. There is so little of it that it becomes less annoying as the series moves along because there isn’t much more to get frustrated about. Finally, after a long absence of any real action for a few episodes there’s a decent set piece in the penultimate episode, one that will be the subject of someone else’s editorial or vlog breakdown to get hits.
One of the early contentions from the anime’s loyalists was the announcement of who would play the role of Faye Valentine. Played by Daniella Pineda the Mexican-Amerian actress did not meet the expectations of said loyalists, more specifically their fetishes (yeah, we said it) with the redesign of the character. Interestingly she is really the only bright spot of the series, an embodiment of the spirit of the original series. Faye has the best quips, best comebacks, best swearing, and most of the best scenes in the series. By far the best thing about the series is Pineda in this role. Suck it, whiners.
On the opposite end, how do you take Ein, an adorable corgi to start, a dog so cute that the Queen of England has a small army of them at her beck and call in case anyone tries to seize the throne, and completely underuse them? Never mind that the only mention of Ed during the series is by a fucking text, an easter egg at first and another added insult to fans later on! Oh, there will be a reckoning about Ed when the show starts streaming, believe you me.
The showrunners have completely missed what made the anime so good, how it has stood the test of time. Even with the underlying story about Spike's past, that ultimately it was fun. This series is not fun. It is bland, dull and boring. Moreover, the showrunners decided that what we really wanted was more anger, violence and gore. No. No we do not.
You had one job, Netflix: don’t shit on the original. But you did, and our fears were unfortunately realized. You ignored what made the anime series a long time fan favorite, a series that has stood the test of time and is considered one of the all time greats. Instead, you focused on a small portion of the story and made a series that ultimately lacks fun and brevity, choosing to suck the joy out of the property and go big with anger and darkness instead.
Last time we checked the show was called Cowboy Bebop, not Syndicate Bebop. There will not be a second series, the fans will see to that, and we can quickly put this behind us.
This is a weight that we are not going to carry.
- Daniella Pineda
- John Cho
- Elena Satine