There’s a lot of excitement surrounding the release of Cowboy Bebop on Netflix, a live-action adaptation of the Japanese anime series that received acclaim when it launched in the 1990s.
While the series delivers a faithful homage to the original source material, with absorbing visuals, intense action and some magnetic performances, it falls into the trap of predictable storylines that lack satisfying payoffs.
Starring the ever charming John Cho as the lead Spike Spiegel, Cowboy Bebop follows a group of bounty hunters in the year 2071 as they chase down wanted criminals across the galaxy for big payouts.
Their adventures take place years after an event called ‘The Fall’, which saw the residents of Earth leave and inhabit neighbouring planets.
Spike’s partner is former police officer Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), who has a cybernetic arm and owns the increasingly deteriorating ship that they’re travelling on, named the Bebop.
On their travels, they cross paths with the sprightly Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), another bounty hunter who is just as talented in combat as she is savvy.
However, trouble is on the horizon when Spike’s past catches up with him, leading to violent consequences.
Cowboy Bebop stays true to its roots, with original composer Yoko Kanno returning for a catchy theme tune that will stick in your head for hours on end and Shinichirō Watanabe, the director of the anime series, working as a consultant on the show.
Tasked with the challenge of bringing the sci-fi, western, neo-noir anime to life, the creators of the new series have done an admirable job at combining the genres, although it does feel very crowded at times.
The show is elevated by the inclusion of John as Spike, who steals every scene that he’s in with his gun-toting skills, quick-witted dialogue and pure leading man allure, all while rocking an incredible head of curls.
While Spike and Jet make an entertaining duo, the introduction of fellow bounty hunter Faye injects some welcome light-heartedness into the dynamic aboard the Bebop, with Daniella commanding the screen as the lovable and mysterious lone traveller.
The series doesn’t shy away from delivering some show-stopping visuals, from the depiction of spaceships zooming around space in the not-so-distant future to the intricate fight choreography, which is packed with punches, knives and firearms galore.
Although Cowboy Bebop is an adaptation of another series that came out over two decades ago, some twists in the new show are extremely anticlimactic.
The episodes frustratingly lack several satisfying conclusions, as the story unfolds in ways that viewers will undoubtedly see coming from a mile away while failing to be as gripping as it clearly expects to be.
Nonetheless, adapting a piece of work that already has a huge fanbase is a daunting task, one that the creators of the series have clearly put a lot of hard, diligent work into.
Verdict on Cowboy Bebop
While translating an animated series into a live-action adaptation shows great ambition, its choppy execution is distracting when viewers are trying to grasp the complex, detailed world they’ve been presented with.
At times, the constant flitting between different genres, visual styles and jazzy background music on Cowboy Bebop can feel jarring, particularly for people unfamiliar with the anime series.
It takes a while for the show to hit its stride, in addition to balancing the funky 1970s-esque action sequences with the emotion at the core of the tale.
However, after acclimatising to the unique style of storytelling, viewers will find themselves drawn into the tale, intrigued to discover where Spike Spiegels’ story with his comrades will take him next as John, Mustafa and Daniella’s chemistry sizzles on screen.
The use of black and white imagery in the show adds a layer of intrigue to the narrative, drawing parallels with Sin City as the graphic nature of the original source material is honoured in live action.
Despite its drawbacks, including a lacklustre narrative, Cowboy Bebop offers its stars the opportunity to flex their talent in a fun – albeit predictable – story.
Cowboy Bebop premieres on Netflix on Friday November 19.
Credit: Original article published here.