Netflix swung for the fences with their live-action interpretation of Cowboy Bebop. Some fans appreciated the many changes they made, while others are not happy in the slightest. The positive here is that the anime is still a masterpiece no matter how fans feel about the live-action version.
It’s not going away anytime soon. The Netflix version at least tried to pay homage to the original Cowboy Bebop anime. There were classic lines quoted verbatim from the anime, along with a few shot-for-shot remakes of iconic scenes. Even new twists to these classic moments can be appreciated. With a warning for spoilers ahead, let's see how well the adaptation did.
8 The Intro Music
“Tank” is as good now as it was all those decades ago. The Cowboy Bebop intro is still one of the best in anime altogether. It does its job beautifully, and gets viewers pumped up for the adventure waiting within.
The live-action version does a good job at updating this intro slightly, while still staying true to its anime counterpart. The Netflix show also reuses a lot of other music from more songs like “Real Folk Blues” and “Rain” to instrumental tracks. It is a jazz fan's delight.
7 The Costumes & Set Design
The show captures that low-fi, cyberpunk future of the anime rather well. It may take place in space, but the universe isn’t a utopia in the slightest. From dingy dive bars to the Bebop to Spike’s Swordfish and everything in-between, the show looks great.
The characters' costumes are also spot on. Faye’s outfit might not be as revealing as in the anime (to the dismay of some fans), but it captures her character. It's among the changes made for the better to give the live-action show more personality.
6 Spike’s Movements
John Cho, along with his stunt double or doubles, do a great job in capturing Spike’s fluid movements from the anime. His fight scenes are some of the best in the live-action version. Spike moves like a flowing stream of water.
Cho does tweak Spike's character a bit when not in combat. He’s a bit more active, and is not as sleepy as the anime. He’s also not actively against kids, dogs, or women with attitudes.
5 The Poor State Of The Bebop
The Bebop deserves its own praise separate from the overall look of the live-action version. As in the original material, it’s still a rust bucket that barely stays together. The only reason it doesn’t explode is thanks to Jet’s love for it.
The ship is constantly in need of repair, even though it is technically smarter with a new AI system called Marvin. The crew is also emulated well in that Spike, Jet, and Faye are barely keeping it together. Hunger plays an important role in motivating them, just as it does in the anime.
4 Twinkle Maria
Spike and Jet's first meeting with Faye is different in the live-action version. She first shows up when they are trying to apprehend Asimov, the Red Eye dealer. She doesn’t join the crew until episode four which is about Twinkle Maria and her gang of environmental terrorists. This group wants to turn people into plants to protest spores, and not animals to protest people eating Sea Rats like in the anime.
While Twinkle Maria’s goals are different in the two shows, the live-action shows still capture the cruelty of her twisted mind in a fun new way. The end of her is just as satisfying as in the anime.
3 Jet, Udai, & Fad
Episode five of the live-action version is all about Jet’s past, and involves Jet chasing down Udai, the reason Jet went to prison and why he lost his arm. Udai has emerged after years of hiding, and Jet calls up his old ISSP partner, Fad, to try and capture him for good.
Someone in the ISSP was in on it. Jet thinks it was Chalmers, who is now married to his wife. However, Fad was the betrayer all along. This backstory is 80% accurate to the anime, with Fad also being the backstabber. The biggest difference is Chalmers’ involvement, as this is a new character.
2 ISSP Vs Syndicate Total Reign
Part of the reason that the anime is so bleak is because the universe is ruled by the Syndicate. The ISSP, who are supposed to be the good guys, also have a reign on things. There’s no luck for the little guy, which is why there are so many bounty hunters out there. Crime is just so rampant.
This is emulated nicely in the live-action version. The ISSP is shown to be even more dastardly, as they even kill Hakim when he is about to surrender. The anime skirts around this issue, whereas Netflix’s version is blunter.
1 Big Shot
Big Shot is not in many episodes of the live-action show compared to the anime. Every time Punch and Judy appear, though, is like a dream. The real actors emulate their poor acting rather well and the studio is dressed up perfectly in an amateur way.
There is even a hint that Judy is a bit of a diva, similar to how she is shown toward the end of the anime. Every inclusion of Big Shot also carries with it a lot of Easter eggs from the anime. Cowboy Andy doesn’t appear in the Netflix show, but his name does pop up. Pay close attention to these segments for more hidden treats.
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