Cowboy Bebop Netflix Live Action 2021

"The Abolition of Man" was a heavy read, and its consequences weighed even heavier on my mind, so I thought I'd take a break and do something fun, like watching something light and entertaining.

Netflix launched the live-action adaptation Cowboy Bebop series on November 19. That should be good, right? (despite many previous dire warnings ...)

If you don't know what Cowboy Bebop is, you probably don't want to read the rest of this long post anyway. But if you still want to know, it is an iconic anime from the turn of the previous millenium.

If you don't even know what anime is ... well, I think you should really leave now, unless you really want to go down the rabbit hole. But again, if you really want to know, "anime" is the Japanese word for "animation", that is, what we in the western worlds call as "animated movie", or "cartoon movies".

For the benefit of those who really don't know (who I am kidding ... if you get this far, you must be familiar with it, otherwise, why keep reading a very long post containing my silly opinion on a silly cartoon show. There are more important things to take care in the world ...), "Cowboy Bebop" is the story of a group of futuristic bounty hunters, living in the space ship called the "Bebop". ("cowboy" being the in-universe derogatory term for "bounty hunters", so the title could roughly be translated as "Bounty hunters who lived in a space-ship named the "Bebop"). There are five major characters - Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine (the three are the "cowboys"), Ed (which is a girl), and Ein (which is a dog).

What's so interesting about bounty hunters anyway? Well, there is a reason why this show is iconic. You really have to watch and decide it for yourself. People have different tastes and preferences. Some people say it's iconic because it is the first anime that uses jazz music (but that's not true). Some people says because it's the animation quality (which isn't bad, but there are other anime that have good animation quality either), etc. I was skeptical before I watched myself more than a decade ago, but after I did, I agreed that this was overall a good show. (If you have Netflix, the anime version of the Cowboy Bebop is there too, all the 26 episodes of it. There is also a movie which isn't on Netflix, but you don't miss much if you don't watch it, although I think the opening song of the movie is cool.)


Now, I'm here to talk about the live-action adaptation. Many youtubers and podcasters have commented on this, and usually I don't bother to comment on things that people have already commented - but I will make an exception here. I will have to emphasise that my opinion is my own; if they sound similar to what others have said, it's probably because we all share similar sentiment.

There is a meme that any Netflix adaptation ends up turning into trash. I don't know how true is that, I don't watch Netflix that much (there are more important things to do in life other than spending all of your free time watching other people's imagination), but I will say that in the case of Cowboy Bebop, they do a very bad job on it.

Season 1 was released with 10 episodes in it. I watched the first episode and my stomach churned. But I might be biased, so I gave it another chance and watched the second episode. It made me want to throw up, but, hey, third time's lucky right? After watching the third episode I think I have torturned myself enough. To top it off, I happened to watch a video clip of the last few minutes of the episode 10. When I watched it, I thought it was a joke made by someone who hated Netflix (or the show, or both). I went back to Netflix to check it ... lo and behold, that extremely tasteless cliffhanger __was__ there. It's so bad, even if you don't know anything the show, I __guarantee__ you that you will be turned off too).

A lot of the opinions so far have talked about the actors who played the adaptation, about the various race-swap and gender-swap (seems to be a feature of any movie in the last few years or sos). I don't want to talk about these, I think those points have been well rehearsed everywhere else. I don't necessarily agree or disgree with these opinions; but today that's not what I want to talk about.

I'm a writer, so my point is focused more on the story, the plot, and the characters.

To start off, this thing is supposedly a "live-action adaptation". It's not a reboot. It's not a remake. It's not re-imagination. It is an "adaptation". And yes, sure, adaptation means you have the freedom to change some of the details, insert new stories or previously unexplained back stories, etc. But it has to be consistent; at least, it has to be consistent with what have been established before (otherwise, it's really different show, isn't it?)

And lack of this consistency is why it sucks and sucks so badly.


I will start with the bold conclusion that just by looking at the characters only, the live-adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is __not__ Cowboy Bebop. Or, equivalently, it is Cowboy Bebop in name-only. Yes, they have characters with the same name, these characters live in the same ship, the same universe, supposedly - but __everything else__ is different.

Let's start with Spike.

The anime Spike isn't the same as the live-action Spike. They don't share the same principles, they don't behave in the same way, they don't interact with others in the same way. They have different values, they care about different things.

There so many differences, but I will mention only one thing which is enough to spoil everything.
* The anime Spike is a man who doesn't care whether he lives for the next day or not.

* The live-action Spike pretends to not care whether he lives or not, but in reality, he really does __not__ want to die.

The difference seems subtle, it's not. The anime Spike is a man who has nothing else to lose. A lot of the (careless) actions in anime Spike can be attributed to his attitude to life; which couldn't be explained otherwise.

The live action Spike, however, is the opposite. He really cares about living and continue living. So why does he behaves so carelessly either? Because he's a hero? Because he's kind-hearted? Because he's arrogant? Because he's a jerk? Because he's just careless? Pick any reason you want - you will still find that this is not the anime Spike in the end.

How about Jet?

In the anime, Jet was like a big brother to Spike. He has his own share of bitter pa