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Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” shows promise

Netflix dropped the opening credits sequence for their live-action Cowboy Bebop. I would have written about it sooner but I’ve been too busy picking my jaw up off the floor. Let’s talk about why.

What is Cowboy Bebop?

For those in the pop culture stone ages, Cowboy Bebop is an anime that aired back in September of 2001 here in the states on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. Directed by Shinichirō Watanabe, the show features a trio of bounty hunters — Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine.

The twenty-six episode series (and a full-length movie that fits in between episodes twenty-two and twenty-three) follows their misadventures in a future world defined by the elements of the show’s title: “cowboy” and “bebop.”

The cowboy element derives from the show being a flat-out sci-fi Western — kinda like Star Wars. Spaceships sub for horses, bounty hunters for cowboys, all riding the range that is space looking for the next score while dealing with nefarious individuals along the way.

Cowboy Bebop composer Yoko Kanno

The bebop element stems from the extensive use of jazz in the show’s soundtrack (provided by the incomperable composer Yoko Kanno).

Said jazz infuses the style of the show. The characters all have a laissez-faire attitude of live and let live, balanced by a sense of duty and improvisation.

There’s also a bit of neo-noir involved.

The Stories of Cowboy Bebop

Cowboy Bebop has several standalone stories, but Spike, Jet, and Faye each have personal stories that develop over the course of the series.

Spike is entangled in a love affair involving a woman named Julia and an underworld mob boss named Vicious.

Jet is a former cop, having retired when he learned of the corruption with the organization. There’s also a woman from his past (because there always is in neo-noir tales and Spike can’t be the only one!).

Faye just woke from a fifty-four year cryofreeze. She’s got amnesia, with no idea of her true origins. Not only does she have to acclimate to her new surroundings, she’s got a substantial debt on her head!

I’d be remiss to not mention the characters Edward and Ein.

“Radical” Edward is a waif of a kid and a super hacker who Spike and Jet pick up along their travels. Ein is a beloved Corgi with a secret of his own. We’ve seen clips of Ein in the Netflix materials but I don’t remember seeing Edward.

Doesn’t mean the character isn’t there and I can’t see a true Bebop show without them.

The Really Bad Netflix track record with live-action anime

When Netflix announced they were making a live-action Cowboy Bebop, anime fans got a severe chill.

You had Willem DaFoe playing this thing and STILL missed the mark? (Death Note C) Netflix

Netflix had previously taken beloved animes Death Note and Fullmetal Alchemist and made — to be polite — less than appealing live-action adaptations.

Okay. They just really sucked.

And that’s despite having LaKeith Stanfield and Willem Defoe in a Death Note adaptation from Adam Wyngard, director of You’re Next and Godzilla vs Kong.

We know dude knows how to make a great movie and THAT was what he brought?

Bebop is on everybody’s top ten best anime lists (and if it’s not, you know that person is not a true adept of anime). How would Netflix screw this up?

Let’s get everybody and the stuff together

When Netflix dropped the news that John Cho would play Spike Spiegel that allayed some fears of whether they were taking this seriously. The casting news of Mustafa Shakir as Jet, and Daniella Pineda as Faye — both of whom visually look the parts — helped calm nerves.

The big sigh of relief came when Netflix announced Yoko Kanno would return for the music. She’s as intrinsic to Cowboy Bebop as John Williams is to the Star Wars saga. Even if all the rest sucked balls, we knew we at least had a soundtrack to jam to.

And then Netflix dropped the opening credit sequence.

Before we go on, check out the opening sequence from the original anime.

Okay! Three, two, one, let’s jam!

Now here’s the trailer for the Netflix Cowboy Bebop in all its glory. Before you watch it, be sure to get a box of tissues to wipe up the orgasmic mess you’ll leave behind when it’s over.

Not only did Netflix lovingly recreate the anime’s opening sequence, they enhanced it with glimpses of future episodes. We see characters from the anime, brought to life. It’s colorful as hell. The CGI of the space-scapes looks gorgeous.

Like the original anime, it looks and sounds eye-poppingly original in a time of watered down Marvel looks, slow-motion DC wanna-be epics, and action movies trying to be all too realistic as they perform physics-busting stunts (looking at you Fast and Furious).

Yeah.

Netflix may be doing Cowboy Bebop right. We’ll find out for sure when it drops November 19th, 2021.

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