After just one singular season of 10 episodes, Netflix has decided to say “see you” to their very own version of space cowboys. The live-action Cowboy Bebop was definitely a big event in the geek community. How you choose to see the “event,” well, that’s definitely in the eye of the beholder. Most, however, saw it as a huge piece of trash not worth your time.
The show had an uphill battle right from the start as it is a Western live-action remake of one of the most beloved animes out there. This is why I wasn’t surprised with how many negative reviews it got. Even so, I did go ahead and watch all of the episodes Netflix produced and, while this may be a unpopular opinion, I actually liked it. I wouldn’t say I loved it but I thought it was okay.
With that said, however, I’m quite relieved Netflix cancelled the live-action Cowboy Bebop. That seems like a contradiction, right? I enjoyed a show but I don’t want more of it? Well, in order to explain my reasoning, let me tell you about the things the show did right and what Netflix did which were horrible.
Before I do try to explain myself, I do have to mention I’m not some die-hard fan of the anime. I do remember watching it way back and I recall liking the show and the themes; I was a teenager back then. Of course, it certainly helps that Cowboy Bebop has one of the best opening songs in television history, Tank! I don’t think anyone would select the “Skip Intro” option when Tank! played ever!
My rather casual fandom of the Cowboy Bebop anime did lead me to actually giving the live-action show a shot despite a lot of very critical review about it. When I read those reviews, a lot of them were basically comparing the live-action Netflix show to the anime. Some of them were rather nit-picky like how they would complain Spike was too old when compared to the anime or how they made Jet Black a divorced man devoted to his kid. I just thought fans who were expecting Netflix to not add their own twists to the characters were a little too upset that they had the gall to change anything about their beloved show. Then again, like I said, I’m not a hardcore Cowboy Bebop fan so I can’t say I would also be hurt by these changes if I were. I understand where they were coming from but I just felt it was the fandom overreacting.
Besides, the actual main trio in the live-action show worked well. I would even say they were the best part of the show! The way Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and Jet Black interact with each other was all around fun to watch! I also love the way each actor portrays the character. John Cho does give a level of low-key lackadaisical coolness to Spike. Mustafa Shakir’s Jet Black is great as the gruff father figure of the group. Daniella Pineda version of Faye Valentine was also unique as she would try to portray overconfidence as a way to cover up her own insecurities. Their performances made the show more than watchable, in my opinion.
Unfortunately, the rest of the cast are generally range from terrible to just shy of okay. There’s a feeling of cheesiness with everyone else, which does hamper the overall atmosphere of the show. The one who got it the worst is Vicious. I just couldn’t understand the guy! He’s supposed to be this big powerful baddie everyone’s frightened of but he comes off like a buffoon!
A lot of has been said about the writing and dialog as well and, in a weird way, I kind of like the sometimes god-awful things people say in the Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop. That’s mostly because, even though what they’re saying sounds dumb, the level of cheese they deliver them seems oddly perfect. People have complained about when that one woman retorts to Jet Black saying that she’s blackmailing him and she then points out how he’s black and a mail. Oooh, that’s some level of cringe right there but when you do notice the character delivering the line, with her overly done makeup, super push-up bra and garish hair, looks like someone who’d normally say something cringeworthy, it’s so much easier to swallow!
However, the biggest reason why, even though I like the live-action Cowboy Bebop, I wasn’t looking forward to a second season was the story. While I liked the self-contained missions when they did actual bounty hunting, the overarching story involving Vicious and the Syndicate was just terrible. In all honesty, if they show was more focused on the crew of the Bebop looking for bounties and the entire Syndicate situation was on the backburner for most of the series.
The problem is, if it ever did get another season, they can’t do that because of the way it ended. They can’t forget about Vicious and Julia because they’re now heavily tied to what’s going to happen, essentially making more of a focal point than ever before. I didn’t care about Vicious nor about Julia and now they’d have to show more of them? I wouldn’t be able to handle it!
Besides, from what I know about the anime, Netflix changed a lot about the story, like putting the entire Vicious angle upfront instead of in the background. While I admire their gumption of trying to adding new twists to something really popular, they had to make sure the changes would actually be better than the source material they’re aping it from. Like I said, some changes, like Jet Black becoming a father may have altered the character but it still worked in the confines of this version of Cowboy Bebop.
Most of the changes, unfortunately, just didn’t work. So, if the new stuff Netflix added to Cowboy Bebop sucked and they already pretty much covered all the episodes from the anime, that would mean a new season of totally new stuff, exclusively developed and written by Netflix. Just thinking of that sent a shiver down my spine in disgust!
In a nutshell, I thought the live-action version of Cowboy Bebop was okay. It wasn’t the great dumpster fire a lot of people say it is. It just fails in comparison to how fantastic the anime is. However, I just don’t have enough confidence in Netflix to take the reins and take the franchise to new heights. I’m glad Netflix canceled it because I’m sure they would flub it down the road and actually create the dumpster fire later.
I mean, they already have the live-action Death Note in their library. Quit while your ahead, Netflix.
What did you think of live-action version of Cowboy Bebop? How did you react to the news of Netflix cancelling it? Let me know in the comments section below!