Live action ‘Bebop’ stands on its own

By Juan Calvillo

The live action version of “Cowboy Bebop” is an awesome interpretation for fans of the anime and pushes the series in new and different directions. 

Comparing Netflix’s live action series with studio Sunrise’s original anime is a mistake. 

Each has its own special moments and styles. 

The anime is the pinnacle of Noir Science fiction fare focused on the characters’ past and changing reality. 

Netflix’s series is similar but manages to blaze its own path.

“Cowboy Bebop” follows the trials, tribulations and gunfights that the trio of Jett Black, Faye Valentine and Spike Spiegel go through as cowboys. 

In the show’s universe cowboys are the equivalent of bounty hunters. The three main characters fight bounties and deal with traumas from their pasts as the series unfolds. 

Black, Valentine and Spiegle each try to find meaning in their lives after circumstances force them into bounty hunting. The crux of the season revolves around Spiegel’s past coming back to haunt the team in the form of the mysterious group called the Syndicate.

The Bebop’s captain is kind hearted former cop Black, played by Mustafa Shakir.

 Shakir is great as Black, exuding Black’s strength and warmness. Shakir manages to fill the role of team dad as well as the hard ass cop.

Black’s partner, Spiegel, is played by John Cho.

Cho excels at the moments of action, comedy and introspectiveness that come with the character of Spiegle.

Cho’s performance is stellar as he manages to mix in a wry smile and devil-may-care attitude into his performance. 

When word came out that Cho was chosen as Spiegle, the internet was buzzing about his age and style not matching what many thought Spiegle should be like. 

It’s fun watching Cho’s role prove so many naysayers wrong with his characterization of the show’s protagonist. 

Not only are his acting chops on display but he also gives his all in the combat scenes.

Rounding out the team is Daniella Pineda as Valentine. 

Pineda’s time on screen is interesting. 

She is fun to watch as her character busts both Black and Spiegels chops during the show.

“Cowboy Bebop” pulls viewers in right off the bat with sleek special effects and fun choreography. 

The martial arts and gun fights that Cho gets in are intense. 

There is a bit of dissonance when it comes to how the live action fights look versus how the anime fights look.

 This is entirely to be expected. While the special effects are very cool, they are used for gun battles and visual shots of the world and the ships that make “Cowboy Bebop,” “Cowboy Bebop.”

If viewers are hoping for fights that mirror the anime they won’t get them for this show. 

If viewers are hoping for fights that show off, somewhat, real martial arts and gun play then they will be totally fulfilled.

Impressively the show’s effects really do the anime justice. 

Spiegel and Fayes signature space ships are remade exactly like in the anime. 

The Bebop is given a bit of a face lift but still retains the home-like feel the anime depicts.

One of the most important things that makes the live-action show almost the same as the anime is the music. 

Yoko Kanno, who wrote the music for the anime, returned to score the live-action show.

 Kanno along with The Seatbelts, the jazz band that performed the original theme music for the anime, put together a musically intense new version of the theme. 

“Tank!” is the name of theme for both versions of “Cowboy Bebop” and while that is the same, Kanno managed to enhance the song for the new series. 

The song doesn’t disappoint, and the rest of the show’s soundtrack is spot on for the noir-ish show that it is.

The changes that have been made to “Cowboy Bebop,” which there are many to both characters and story elements, breathe a different type of life into the series. 

It does not follow what was originally created and it’s a good thing it doesn’t. 

There could never be another “Cowboy Bebop’’ show like what was created in the original anime. 

More importantly it shouldn’t be copied.

Netflix’s live-action “Cowboy Bebop’’ does something really special.

 It gives a legendary anime the chance to live an entirely different life in flesh and blood. 

The passion put into this show is seen in each crisp moment on screen. 

“Cowboy Bebop” is available to stream now on Netflix and is rated TV-MA for sex, nudity, violence, gore, profanity, alcohol, drugs, and frigthening and intense scenes.

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