The time has come, my friends. I will be reviewing and comparing the live-action to the anime. I will be merciless. Cowboy Bebop was one of the first anime that caught my attention completely. So, let’s see how Netflix’s rendition holds up, shall we?
First off, the names of the sessions are different. Session 1 in the anime is called “Asteroid Blues”. Session 1 in the live-action? “Cowboy Gospel”. I don’t know the thought process behind this, but whatever, and yes, to me, being merciless is being nit-picky as heck. So hold on.
The opening of the anime shows Spike in the rain smoking and remembering the past. The live-action has Spike and Jet capturing a bounty in a space casino. This all takes place before the credits.
There are a lot of things you can do with animation that the human body simply can’t. I will give the production crew an “A” for effort, but there are some issues:
- Trying to mimic the exact actions the characters took did not translate well. It came off as ill conceived and cheap as hell.
- There was no Ed in the opening, making a lot of lovers of the anime nervous.
- The intro included a lot of shit that was not in the anime intro.
In conclusion, they tried way too hard and fell flat in many aspects.
The prologue for the live-action was nine minutes long, give or take ten seconds. The episode is longer, too. Which made it drag a bit for me. The episodes for the anime were only 24 minutes long. The live-action episodes are 50 minutes long. Both have only ten episodes. So, it seems like they padded the live-action to make it longer. I could be wrong though. I am only reviewing this episode-by-episode.
The interactions were there, in spirit. There was no arguing about the food, no Spike ignoring Jet talking about Asimov because of the lack of beef in the food. There was the argument about where the money went, blaming it all on the job that went down before the intro played instead of various jobs prior to Asimov.
There was only Jet being tipped off by a cop about Asimov and where to find him, which led to Spike complaining about not liking Tijuana.
They gave Jet a kid. He didn’t have one in the anime. He had his own tragic tale of love lost and why he carries around a broken watch. This changes the dynamic between Spike and Jet. I don’t know how I feel about this.
The feel and colors: El Rey
El Rey is where it all goes down. It’s close quarters to give it a homey feel and the old guys at the table remind you of three friends shooting the shit and playing cards in an old west saloon. The set-up for the scene is perfect right down to the palette and the light play through the window.
This feels like something out of a Tarantino movie, not the anime. The place is bigger. The colors are washed out. There is only one other person in the joint, making it desolate and empty, devoid of any atmosphere.
Scratch that, Tarantino would have had people in the bar. This scene sets you up for something with the stillness of it, but the feel is wrong.
Many of the scenes and colors are washed out and drab in the live-action. They stripped the cities of their personalities. Tijuana was vibrant, alive. The scenes just seemed thrown in as an afterthought. The only scene with any life was the children playing with the soccer ball.
There were parts in the episode where they were going for an old west feel, and there were parts where they were going for a noir vibe. Both tries fell flat with me. They felt forced, overdone.
The interactions between the characters were there. Spike and Jet had their banter. It was on-point. The interaction between Faye and Spike was good as well. I have no problems there.
They all acted pretty well.
Oh, where do I start? The shooting scenes were fine. The melee scenes…
I know they are trying their best to imitate the anime, but when you stop to highlight weapons and maneuvers in live-action, you’re crossing into campy and cheap fight scenes. There was no flow. They would pause for a few seconds before continuing the fight.
I am not going to lie, I was rolling my eyes every time it happened.
The vehicles were true to form. I have no issues there. Some of the sets could have been done better, and I have already talked about the colors.
Can we talk about Vicious?
Like Spike, they aged him up. I don’t like it. Both Spike and Vicious are around the same age, agile, quick, and deadly. I don’t get that with this casting. I get a tired, grumpy, old man. Not a good look.
If I had not heard of the anime, I would say the show is pretty good, not great, not spectacular. Pretty good. You can tell they padded a lot to stretch it to 50 minutes.
I found myself moving the mouse to see how much time there was left in the episode due to the pacing. The only thing I enjoyed was the banter and the preservation of the ships’ appearances.
This is just an overdone live-action rendition of a loved classic. The action feels forced and the backdrops fall flat.
I am giving the first episode two shots out of five. I was not impressed.
See you next time, Space cowboy.
Anissa “Maddy” Walker