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Netflix created a live-action adaption of one of the greatest anime series to ever existed, Cowboy Bebop. As a long time fan who grew up with this series for a bit over two decades…I actually liked the adaption. Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop just worked and surprised me, but it did have some flaws that I wasn’t too keen on. Without further ado, let’s jump into this review.
Cowboy Bebop is a space Western that follows three bounty hunters named “cowboys,” who are all trying to escape their past. Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) form a team to bring down the most dangerous criminals to make top dollar. The team can only do so much bounty hunting before their past catches up to them and forced to face it.
I enjoyed the adaption’s story. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not perfect, but when you have a anime with such a huge legacy how can you measure up to it? It’s literally impossible. What I liked is that it kept the same heart, but wasn’t afraid to do it’s own thing because if I wanted the series to follow the anime beat for beat then I’ll just go back to the anime. I liked a lot of the added lore and some changes to the characters too.
My only problem with the story was Vicious (Alex Hassell). The series tried to do too much with the character. Vicious is a character that has a lot of mystery and a complete badass, so if the show wanted to add lore then it should’ve been done little by little then continue in season two (if it happens). Also, where was Vicious’ bird?! I just thought his bird was cool in the anime.
The story is solid enough and if Netflix’s decides to green-light another season then I’m all up for it.
The cast was just fantastic. Regardless how you feel about the story, John Cho is Spike Spiegel! Cho just have the swagger and cool factor that made me go “well holy hell, this man is amazing!” Just super surprised with his performance.
Mustafa Shakir captured Jet Black perfectly. Shakir is a great actor and he was able to bring the character to life, and he even sounded like John “Beau” Billingslea’s Jet Black. I got to give this man his flowers.
Oh and Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine is so good. The way she was selling her performances when things get serious or being literally Faye was just spot on. Pineda stole the show for me.
Lastly, I enjoyed Alex Hassell’s performance as Vicious. Even though I don’t like that they did too much with the character, I got to give credit where credit is due. Hassell didn’t disappoint.
The rest of the cast’s performances was good, while others went a bit over the top. Overall, definitely some good casting.
The music is easily the best thing about the series by far! When you have the original composer Yoko Kanno return then it’s an easy home run. Can you imagine Cowboy Bebop without Yoko Kanno? Exactly, literally imposible.
I loved the visuals for the series. I’m a sucker for the Cyberpunk/Neo-noir aesthetic, so in my opinion everything just looked great. I don’t know what the budget was for the show but it was very well produced.
Let’s not forget about the action! If you love hand to hand combat, gun fights, and more then you won’t be disappointed. Anytime Spike or Vicious was in a fight, I knew I was in for a treat.
My only complaint is some of the camera work. It felt like the series would do these weird camera angles that’ll make the show a bit too cartoony. The series does this thing where the characters would just talk and the camera angles would look silly but It only works for certain shots like the action, seeing the ships land or fly, etc.
Both the look and sound for Cowboy Bebop is enough to impress long time fans of the anime.
Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop isn’t as bad as a lot of people make it out to be. As a fan of the anime, I had a good time. I would like to see the series return and continue to improve on what worked and also listen to some of the valid criticisms that was made as well.
I do recommend watching the series. If you’re a long time fan then just watch it as it’s own thing because comparing it to a show that’s pretty much the perfect package could ruin the experience. And if you’re not familiar with Cowboy Bebop, you’ll have a fun time.