Netflix’s ‘Cowboy Bebop’ is all right with a resurgence of nostalgia

Cowboy Bebop it was like nothing else when it premiered twenty years ago. It was a non-Western work in space; a noir thriller with a spectacle of martial arts and shooting in the style of John Woo; an existential vision of a broken future in which the characters were forced to live with their shattered past. And on top of all that, he was driven by an iconic soundtrack that easily overlaps between genres. We didn’t have much time for the Bebop verse – only 26 episodes and a movie – so every second felt like a miracle. How could a Netflix live adaptation fulfill that?

Simply put, it is not. While the original series was a love letter to cinematography and pop culture, devised by a creative dream team (director Shinichiro Watanabe, writer Keiko Nobumoto and composer Yoko Kanno), the Netflix remix is ​​mostly in love with Cowboy Bebop. He wants to remind us of anime, so much so that it replicates many of the cult sequences recorded for the recording, but it doesn’t deal with what made it so special. He sings a melody, but he has no soul. It’s a hollow tune that’s common for restarts focused on nostalgia, like Star Wars: The Force Awakens i Ghostbusters: The Underworld, and that almost always holds them back.

By almost all standards, I should hate Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop with fear. But it’s a testament to the talented actors involved that I don’t. John Cho wouldn’t be my first choice to play the incredibly cool Spike Spiegel (it would be Sung Kang, Fast and Furious ostentatious King Han), but makes a serious effort to repeat his charm. Mustafa Shakir easily carries the irritable but sympathetic nature of Jet Black. And Faye Valentine Danielle Pinede is the absolute thief of the scene.

But this talented group has failed with a confusing production, which often looks worse than a cheap episode of Doctor Who. It seems that some sets are made of cardboard and spray paint, nothing conveys the vivid aesthetics that the anime has captured so well. There are flashes of visual brilliance, to be clear, but it mostly comes from digital effects that often replicate shots from the original series. from time to time, Bebop wants to replicate the aesthetics of a live cartoon from the underrated Wachowskis Speed ​​Racer. Then, at other times, it will have only a bright neon sign “PORN” in the background, as if that is enough to evoke the charm of the neighborhood.

Geoffrey Short / Netflix

So where did it all start to go wrong? As with most restarts, nostalgia is usually reduced to writing. Netflix Cowboy Bebop developed by Christopher Yost (Thor: Ragnarok,, Star Wars Rebels) and includes genre talents such as Javier Grillo-Marxuach (Lost, enchanted). Their combined credits have given me hope that the series will be little more than a copy of the anime, but instead it’s a confusing mix of nostalgia worship and redundant story additions.

Instead of being a mysterious killer, the villain Vicious appears as a boring eurotrash gangster. Instead of a haunting past based on the consequences of excessive protective affection, Jet gets an estranged daughter and ex-wife. And perhaps most importantly, Spike’s love affair Julia loses her mystique, and instead becomes another beautiful girl in trouble. We’ve already seen all these stories, so instead of feeling like a “new genre to ourselves,” the bold proclamation the anime made in the middle of each episode, it all looks like “was there, did it.”

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Naveen Kumar

Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.

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