Cowboy Bebop

A new report claims to have revealed the overall plot of Netflix’s upcoming live-action ‘Cowboy Bebop‘ series! As this is coming from outside of an official Netflix announcement it, of course, has to be thought of as a rumor though it is a pretty in-depth one. If this does prove to be true, it looks like we’ll be getting elements from both the first episode of the anime and the feature film mixed for the pilot episode.

You can read the details below from Splash Report‘s resident TV expert:

I’m a huge fan of Cowboy Bebop. Like, a MASSIVE fan. I have seen the anime probably half a dozen times all the way through and the movie a handful of times. It is easily my favorite anime series. In my opinion, the show still hasn’t been topped regarding aesthetics, thematic potency, or depth. So believe me when I tell you that the new Netflix adaptation if given the right budget and cast, will be the best anime adaptation ever— and a GREAT series to boot. What Christopher Yost and team are cooking over there is indeed something special and should be well worth your wait. Here’s my take on the work-in-progress pilot of COWBOY BEBOP: Session One.

We begin on what is almost a beat-for-beat recreation of the Cowboy Bebop movie cold open, but with a twist. Instead of a grocery store, this scene takes place on a casino— a SPACE casino. This is the equivalent of the space casino scenes in the ‘Honky Tonk Women’ episode of the anime. Regardless, the scene is almost identical to the movie’s opening, down to the ICONIC line that Spike utters at the end… chills. They also introduce some political subtext here about refugees, though I don’t believe they went far enough with it to be meaningful. Anyway, this scene familiarizes us with one of the bounties that Spike and Jet are after—Tanaka. Tanaka is a “wannabe preacher with a gun” that hates refugees and used to work in a casino. Well, I should say he WAS all that… before Spike and Jet demolished him and his operation. This scene also showcases some cool new gadgets that weren’t shown in the anime, including a gun that shoots black holes. Yup, black holes.

Tonally, the show feels like the anime, but with a bit more swearing. In the anime, they do swear, but not to the same level that they do in this show. There are full on f-bombs left and right. However, I felt like it really worked and fed into the tone well. Especially when characters are bickering with each other, it feels more natural that they would swear with that much vigor. They also bumped up the violence quite a bit; there is now some gore. Regardless, despite all these new elements, I still felt like I was watching an episode of the anime. I could practically hear Steve Blum and Beau Billingslea’s voices in my head when Spike and Jet were bantering. Yost has absolutely nailed their relationship.

Okay, I am going to say something that I know a lot of you are going to be angry at, but just put your pitchforks down for a sec and listen. Jet Black in this show is black. Yes, I know he isn’t in the anime (although, Billingslea is African-American so…) But what matters most here is that they have nailed his PERSONALITY. Jet feels like Jet. He may not look one-to-one like the anime, but he FEELS like it. Provided they cast someone who can deliver the lines with the same energy that Billingslea did in the original, I think Netflix will be fine.

Spike Spiegel is ripped straight from the series. He walks into any room slouched and seemingly oblivious to everything around him, only to confidently whip into action at a precise moment. His insouciance figure is a façade for his skills. But behind all of that is a broken man, someone with a tortured past. He is a man at the end of the line. I won’t spoil what led him there for those who haven’t seen the anime.

The rest of the pilot plays similarly to the first episode of the anime, ‘Asteroid Blues,’ but extended for a 60-minute runtime. It centers on Spike, Jet, and Faye. Some of the additions I felt worked, and some I felt need improvement. The basic gist of the plot is that Asimov Solensan and his pregnant wife Katerina are on the run and have a sizable bounty on their head. Naturally, Spike and Jet are drawn to the prize and chaos ensues. The main differences between this pilot and the anime episode are that Yost has tried to weave in and introduce both Vicious and Faye Valentine into the narrative to mixed results. Faye is brought in through a character named Ellis Rothschild, who is Katerina’s father and one of the richest men in the universe. He wants his daughter back and tasks Faye to do the deed for him, for a handsome reward. I felt her addition to the episode was well done. She’s introduced as a femme fatale, taking in a bounty by seducing him. Then she meets Rothschild. I think Faye being a bounty hunter definitely helps smooth her transition into the narrative much more than some others…

Vicious, if you don’t know, is Spike’s mortal enemy. He is the Vader to Spike’s Luke; the Joker to his Batman; the… well, you get the point. Anyway, he is introduced to the plot through the Red Dragon Syndicate, a criminal organization run by Mao Yenrai. They aren’t interested in Katerina necessarily, but what Asimov has in his possession instead. Asimov is lugging around a case of a new drug, military grade, called Red-Eye. If you’ve seen the anime episode, you know where this is going. But mainly it’s a spray that makes someone’s reflexes inhumanly fast and increases their strength significantly. It’s an excellent way of tying the syndicate to the plot, however…

My main issue with how Vicious is brought in is that I feel like it is much too early. Vicious is meant to be the endgame for Spike’s arc. For a large portion of the anime, we only see glimpses of each character’s past until later episodes. In this pilot, a lot of the mystery is given the spotlight straight away, and that takes away some of the enigmas of slowly figuring out what broke these people in the past. You lose a lot of the subtlety the way Netflix is making this.

I wanted to see Spike, Jet and the rest just goofing off for a bit, doing odd bounties and whatever before we are tossed into the main narrative. I definitely felt like they were trying to make this adaptation faster in pace, but part of what makes Bebop so great is that it never really felt the need to be energetic. It would dedicate a whole episode to the crew having an alien take over their ship. And that would be the entire plot. Just them trying to figure out how to get rid of this alien. No Vicious or syndicate or anything. That’s where the series should be at this stage. Likewise, they also highlight some of Jet and Faye’s backstory in this episode as well, which I didn’t like either. If I had some feedback for Netflix and Yost, it would be to slow down. Don’t be afraid to just let these characters simmer for a bit before jumping into the main plot.

Back to the pilot. The majority of it feels like an extended cut of the first anime episode. Some scenes are almost identical, like when Asimov has the shootout at the bar. But there also heaps of new scenes, for instance when Spike and Jet question different inhabitants of Tijuana about the bounty’s whereabouts. Most of these I really liked, but like I said, the stuff with Vicious and the syndicate I could do without.

Ed and Ein don’t make an appearance, naturally.

Overall, I really enjoyed this pilot. I can tell Yost and co have a deep passion and love for Cowboy Bebop. They have absolutely nailed so many aspects of this, that there is no possible way they don’t. There are a few things I feel need to be ironed out before production, but this series is definitely on the way to being something truly amazing. Netflix, give it the budget it deserves please. Until next time, SEE YOU SPACE COWBOY…

Many of the changes really do sound like they could fit and if the cast and budget are on point, this is something that could be amazing. I do agree with the above writer that introducing Vicious too soon could be harmful to the growth of Spike but if the two aren’t interacting and we just see him as a character in the world to be brought into the mix later, it could work.

With so many live-action anime translations having failed at this point you can’t help but worry about a transition for such an iconic piece of entertainment.

Are you willing to give a live-action ‘Cowboy Bebop’ a chance? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Source: Splash Report