If you don’t have any attachment to the original Cowboy Bebop anime series, I very much suspect this looks like a fun, sci-fi series where John Cho has a funny hairdo and chases bounties across the solar system with his friend and the woman he occasionally wants to kill. Also, there’s a fun soundtrack and an adorable corgi.
Why wouldn’t you want to check that show out? Well, if you’re some old-school, absolutist fan who loves the original TV series so resolutely, so exclusively, that you only think a shot-for-shot remake of the anime should be allowed to exist. Then you’ll likely be outraged by actor Daniela Pineda’s less overtly sexual version of Faye, the (apparent?) lack of the character of Ed, and a hundred other medium to minuscule changes. Changes that might leave some of you screaming into your pillow at night, never realizing that even if the Netflix adaptation had tried to kowtow to your desires in every way, the mere transition from anime to live-action would have necessitated changes no matter what, and you were never going to be happy.
But I think fans of the anime who can truly understand this isn’t exactly Cowboy Bebop can and will enjoy the show because it’s Cowboy Bebop Remix. (Which, honestly, is probably what they should have called it. It’s not any more confusing to regular audiences than “Cowboy Bebop” is.) It’s taking the beats of the original series—literally, in the case of composer Yoko Kanno’s music—the plots of at least some of the episodes, the art style, and the backstories, and goodness knows what else, but it’s not slavishly devoted to recreating the original frame for frame. Honestly, these are the bits I think I like the most—when I feel this Bebop has the confidence to go off the original scripts and find its own style.
This, of course, is a lot to read into a 2.5-minute trailer, however, 1) that’s what I’m paid to do, but 2) more importantly, we know the people making the Netflix show have been purposefully trying to make their version a remix of the original. Writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach told io9 last year, “You’ve got a show where you have 26 episodes that are full of very colorful villains, very colorful stories, very colorful adversaries, bounties, and all of that. We’re not going to go one-to-one on all of those stories because we’re also trying to tell the broader story of Spike Spiegel and the Syndicate, Spike Spiegel and Julia, Spike Spiegel and Vicious, and all that. But we are looking at the show and saying, ‘Who are some of the great villains in this show, and how can we put them into this broader narrative?’ So that we are telling both of the big stories that Cowboy Bebop tells.”
If this first trailer is an accurate indication, the live-action Cowboy Bebop will do exactly that. And if it turns out this remix isn’t for you, well, you always have the original album. Cowboy Bebop, which stars Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black, and Pineda as Faye Valentine, premieres on Netflix on November 19.
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