“Cowboy Bebop” is the Netflix live action series based on the famous anime of the same name. For those who haven’t seen either, the show follows the crew of the Bebop: Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) and Faye Valentine ( Daniella Pineda). The three are a team of “cowboys”, or space-traveling bounty hunters. The story takes place in a somewhat near future where humans have mastered space travel and have terraformed other planets. Personally, I quite enjoyed the show. I never saw the original anime (which I have heard is considerably better) so I can’t really speak on how it compares, but I quite liked the Netflix live action. I thought it was both entertaining and fun.
I will say there were a few very cringeworthy moments, like the infamous scene where an informant tries to coerce Jet into taking her out for dinner. Jet says “that sounds like blackmail”, and she replies “that’s right Jet, because you are black and you are male.” I don’t know what the writers were on that they thought that sounded cool or witty. Then there was the scene where Vicious (Alex Hassell) learns how the Eunuch got his name. Apparently the Eunuch says “you don’t know power until you have tasted the testicles of a man who has wronged you”. Personally I think that’s taking it a bit far as I don’t think that’s a requirement to be a world leader or anything. Despite the few admittedly cringe-worthy scenes, the show also had some genuinely funny scenes, like when Faye sees Ein, and when she tries to pull one over on Jet and Spike and she takes the dog with her. Her stealing the ship and going “fuck you fuckers” is actually kind of funny, especially since Jet had just convinced Spike that Faye could be trusted. The scene where Jet is watching his daughter’s performance and dancing along while Spike is keeping lookout and fighting off bad guys in the background is also pretty comic.
I was not too impressed by the acting, except for the actors who play Spike, Faye, and Jet. They had such great chemistry on screen and from the outset they seemed like a bickering little family. While the main actors did a good job with their characters, some of the secondary characters seemed kind of forced. I don’t know if it was because of the specific manner in which their characters were written, but with the exception of Ana, the secondary characters weren’t too convincing or impressive to me.
Perhaps the biggest reason I liked the show is that Spike, Jet and Faye are so charismatic. They have such a great dynamic and they are all quite funny and interesting even on their own. I personally love morally grey anti-heroes, protagonists you root for even if they don’t always do the right thing. Faye is a perfect example of such a character. She tries to betray Jet and Spike at first, and when we meet her she is trying to return a supposedly pregnant girl to her terrible family. But she definitely has a soft side too. She practically sacrifices herself to save Spike, Jet, and others by crashing her ship onto the deadly missile that was headed towards them.
Spike too, for all his “I’m not a good guy” routine, is actually kind of a good guy. He keeps watch and single-handedly kills the entire gang that was threatening him and Jet so Jet can go watch his daughter’s performance. He goes back for Faye after she saves them and her ship goes down. He does everything he can to help Jet get the doll for his daughter’s birthday. And Jet himself is full of warmth. He is skilled and practical, but he also clearly has a heart of gold and acts like the dad of the group.
I also thought the costumes were really cool, and very in line with how the characters looked like in the original animated series. The settings however, weren’t too visually impressive. Very rarely did the scenery look super aesthetic and exciting, but I understand with Covid it would be difficult to film in different locations, and they must have gotten pressed for time. But honestly the settings for the most part looked disappointingly cheap.
All in all, it was a fun show. If you like the found-family trope, sci-fi and futuristic series, definitely check out both the original anime and the Netflix live action.
You can watch “Cowboy Bebop” on Netflix.
By Alice Braga