Cowboy Bebop 1 (2021), D+

Stick to the anime.

What I realized half-way through the 10 episode series is that this Cowboy Bebop is for new viewers of the franchise. This is not for those of us who grew up with it. The adult themes that were subdued for Japanese network audiences were turned up to 10, with full frontal nudity, gore, pansexuality, drug usage. Essentially the only missing sin is gluttony.

Then lets look at the character changes: from the changes of Spike and Jet to good cop/bad cop, to Faye’s personality changing from a grandmother to a grandchild, to Julia being a megalomania in this version when she was a damsel-in-distress without any personality in the original, to Vicious now being your B-movie villain of the week from Best of the Worst — this screams that the producers of the show really having an identity crisis for this show.

I mean… they actually had Vicious do THIS in an episode of the show, deadpan:

Somebody please tell the writers this doesn’t belong in a Neo-Noir or Western drama.

Positive notes: I like Jet’s actor. John Cho grew on me. The Radical Edward cameo already pisses me off, I think that’s a good thing. The soundtrack was recomposed from the original sheet music. All of the side-story quest enemies had pretty good acting. Set design was amazing.

Negatives: I hate Faye. Her original design was based on Motoko Kusanagi (purple hair, fem fatale, 20–40 years displaced). Updating it, and neglecting that homage is painful and highlights the indifference that Western Producers and Writers have towards source material (also shown in Speed Racer, Ghost in the Shell, Judge Dredd not Dredd). I hate Vicious, he and Spike were based on the Cloud/Sephiroth relationship in Final Fantasy 7. Now he’s a buffoon. Once again, indifference toward the source material. Cinematography was awful. CGI could be improved, the Swordfish’s CGI looks like plastic compared to the impressive physical model. The intro was skipped every episode.

Thankfully, I expect major improvements for Season 2. 10 episodes were probably greenlit to gather viewer feedback.

First screening week of November 21, 2021 on Netflix.

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