What did we think of the live-action series “Cowboy Bebop”, adapted from the famous Japanese anime of the same name, to be discovered exclusively on Netflix this Friday, November 19?
WHAT IS IT ABOUT ?
2071. Following an accident on the Moon, life on planet Earth has become impossible. Humans had to leave, colonize other planets. This exodus created chaos throughout the universe, leaving complete freedom to the most dangerous criminals. A real playground for bounty hunters. Among this clique: the Bebop, a spaceship housing Spike Spiegel and Jet Black …
WHO IS IT WITH?
To play Spike Spiegel, the cool and melancholy bounty hunter, the choice fell on John Cho. After starting his career as a comic actor (American Pie, the Harold and Kumar trilogy), his career has taken a dramatic turn in recent years. Known to the general public for his participation in the reboots of Star Trek (in the role of Sulu), he was recently featured in the thrillers Gemini and Searching: missing.
At his side, Mustafa Shakir lends his features to his partner Jet Black. Long subscribed to ephemeral roles in successful series, he acquired notoriety with the public following his appearance in the Marvel production Luke Cage (season 2). His role in Cowboy Bebop marks another major step forward in his prolific career.
Finally, the trio would not be complete without the presence of Faye Valentine. The bounty hunter is played here by Daniella Pineda. Revealed by the series Homeland and Vampire Diaries (she also appeared in her spin-off, The Originals), the young American actress also held one of the main roles in the film Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom (she will also be in the poster of the next opus of the franchise, entitled The World After).
DOES IT DESERVE A LOOK?
With the series Cowboy Bebop, Netflix has displayed a double ambition: to adapt a gem of popular culture, while trying to restore the image of American adaptations of Japanese anime. Faced with the popularity of the original work, the platform knew that it would not have the right to make mistakes in the eyes of the many fans of the animated series signed Shin’ichirō Watanabe.
Released in the late 90s in Japan, Cowboy Bebop follows the adventures of bounty hunters in a dystopian future. On the border between space opera and spaghetti western, the series retraces in filigree the buried past of Spike Spiegel, its main character.
A rather convincing cast
At first glance, the bet seems successful, thanks to a rather convincing cast. If John Cho fails to replicate the cool yet melancholy mixture of the anime’s Spike, his performance is nonetheless well-made. Provided of course not to get stuck on his “cosplay” appearance which somewhat harms the credibility of the character. Mustafa Shakir is absolutely perfect in his portrayal of Jet Black.
Things get even tougher for Faye Valentine. Daniella Pineda’s performance is not really in question: the young actress is doing quite well to embody the candor and explosiveness of the bounty hunter. But the character’s writing, too often indented and seriously lacking the colorful temperament that characterizes it in the animated series, unfortunately does not do justice to the latter.
Finally without much surprise, the corgi chosen to play Ein is obviously perfect.
A completely failed villain
In order to adapt to the 60-minute format of the Netflix series, the adaptation of Cowboy Bebop took many liberties with the original work. The major change in this live-action version concerns the series’ big bad, Vicious. As charismatic as he is ruthless in the anime, the latter appears in this remake as a vulgar villain of operetta.
The choice of actor Alex Hassell to play Vicious was clearly not the right one. Forget the mutic Vicious of the anime, and now make way for an ersatz Lucius Malfoy grimacing and feeble. By offering more exposure to the character, Netflix has above all removed all the disturbing aura that surrounds him, and retraced not as a red thread, but with enormous scriptwriting strings, the past of Spike supposed to resurface throughout series.
If the series begins with an episode rather faithful to the framework of the anime, we will unfortunately see that the freedoms taken in the adaptation lead us irremediably to a completely failed finale, a grotesque diversion of a major episode of the anime. Cowboy Bebop (Ballad of the Fallen Angels, in which Vicious was introduced). Completely inevitable, the comparison with the original work deals a fatal blow to this adaptation which will leave fans with the impression of having completely missed its subject.
This new series Cowboy Bebop could however effectively entertain audiences who have never seen a single episode of the animated series (the latter is also available on Netflix for anyone wishing to discover the original work, and not its adaptation).