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#cowboy bebop
fayevalcntine · a day ago
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Spike Spiegel and Faye Valentine in Jupiter Jazz (Part 2) promo clip
Some people seem to miss out on the obvious parallels between Julia and Faye in the series, despite it often being there within the text. Whenever Julia is mentioned, Faye’s presence seems to either follow or precede this, and the first time we get to see Julia interact with another character is through her. The most obvious comparisons are in Jupiter Jazz, where Faye gets to meet Gren and ‘embody’ Julia’s role on Callisto. Between interacting with Gren, learning more about his connection to Vicious, sitting in the same seat as Julia, and even being the ‘second’ beautiful woman to ever be witnessed upon by the local residents. This is often the reason as to why it can even be interpreted that Faye’s connection to Spike is actually more than a strictly platonic camaraderie, because the narrative places Faye within a close proximity to Julia’s past and legacy, not just through Spike, but through people in his and Julia’s past as well.
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misterparadigm · 2 days ago
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Cowboy Bebop (Netflix): Official Review
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I’ve just finished the first season. As a long-time super fan of the original anime, an illustrator, a writer, and an animation professor, I’ll do my best to account for everything I can. We’ll start with a quick star rating. For the tl;dr, scroll down to the “Overall” section at the bottom.
4/10 Stars
THE GOOD:
To start, I’ll talk about what’s working. First, Yoko Kanno’s music is, as to be expected, the show’s biggest saving grace. There’s a fair amount of recycling from the original series, often updated somewhat for better or worse. When it’s not as good as the original tune, it’s still not bad, but often any issue with the music in this adaptation isn’t the song itself but the moments and manner in which they’re used--often feeling forced in like a wrong puzzle piece for the sake of nostalgia and to carry an otherwise poorly directed scene.
One standout performance is Mustafa Shakir, who does by FAR the best of the cast with his turn as Jet Black.
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There are moments that are bad, but he does the best he can with what’s been given to him, and often he truly feels like he understood the assignment and channels Jet quite well. Another standout is Tamara Tunie as Ana, who plays a much bigger role in this adaptation than the character in the anime.
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This was the most successful change made from the anime to live-action. Tunie brings dignity to an otherwise goofy, melodramatic adaptation--but we’ll get more into TONE later. Another smaller part that stood out to me as particularly memorable, given that he’s a totally new character, is A Martinez as Stax. This character didn’t need to exist in the series at all, but Martinez really sells the character and manages to bear gravity and menace which is sorely missing in the more important villains of the series; I’m looking at you, Vicious.
Ending the first season on Fallen Angels was a very good decision, in general. But that’s to say nothing of its execution, which I’ll get into later.
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THE BAD:
We’ll start with the least bad and sort of go from there. Cho is an enjoyable actor, but he struggles as Spike. Sometimes he gets it, but much of the time he’s not able to carry the quiet, brooding, existential gravitas that the character is known for. He’s channeling a bit of the swagger and a lot of the goofball, but almost none of the menace that Spike is capable of, which was carried over from his syndicate days. This isn’t necessarily Cho’s fault, either--at least not entirely. This can also easily be laid at the feet of the writers and, in particular, the director. This adaptation only has a superficial understanding of nearly every aspect of the series, and their portrayal of Spike is no different. Spike has his endearing goofball moments, but this adaptation completely abandons his cold irritability when it comes to Faye, Ein, and Ed. They soften him far too much from the onset, rather than let that part of him develop over time. Whatever of Spike is jaded in this new series doesn’t play much in the foreground of his character, and when it does it’s not treated with the weight it deserves, but rather a highly-stylized, superficial, transparent narrative device that constantly reminds us that we’re watching a TV show--a TV show adapted from a particular pop culture icon.
Next, we’ll talk about Faye. Faye was done dirty as hell in this adaptation. She has a superficial entrance that shows all the flash and none of the substance, which is consistent throughout the season. This is Faye:
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The real Faye, underneath the persona she keeps. We get none of this Faye. Instead, we get this Faye:
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Daniella Pineda doesn’t hit the mark, and plays the character too much like a kitschy, fowl-mouthed teenager. Again, though, some of (perhaps most of) this must be laid at the feet of the writing and directing. This adaptation completely glosses over Honky Tonk Woman, which is an absolute travesty, and it sets the standard for how this adaptation denies Faye her dignity as a smooth operator with a lot more depth than she lets on. The fake mother backstory was atrocious. It shoehorned a glossy, comedy-driven history into a character who never gets her shot at being a real person. There’s a reason the most successful moments with Faye center around her witnessing pieces of the past she’s forgotten--it comes from the original anime and does a much better job exploring the character than any of the veneer that this adaptation paints over the weathered beauty of the original grain. While the lesbian encounter isn’t necessarily beyond conceivable for Faye’s character, this adaptation’s handling of it didn’t offer anything but an obligatory nod to inclusion, much like it’s random, superfluous, and at times gratuitous insertions of BDSM. And I say that as someone with an interest in that community, so it isn’t a prude dismissal of the practice, but a criticism of superficiality in storytelling. Faye wasn’t given the depth she deserved, and too much of her story was glossed over or abandoned for something much less substantial.
Julia. Another female character who was completely declawed and overacted.
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You might say, “But the end! She gets her claws!” Yeah, but they aren’t good claws. To be strong she had to become villainous? Not buying it, and it’s not Julia’s character. This adaptation turns Julia into a weepy, soapy damsel, with the intent of giving her an arc which finds her coming out of it strong. The problem is that her character’s arc isn’t consistent. There are episodes where she’ll go from somber damsel to murderous queen with very little provocation, and when she turns on Spike at the end it comes ENTIRELY out of left field. There was no narrative effort made to foreshadow her growing bitterness toward him, and so it feels like a tacked-on twist. And that’s being generous and entertaining the idea that this conceptualization of that triangular relationship is good at all, which I don’t believe it is. The whole situation feels polished and melodramatic, which the director mistakes for style. Julia should be like Spike--jaded and brooding; numbed by a life too long in the greyest moral landscape and surrounded by misery and death for the sake of power and control.
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If they wanted to play her character the way they did, it would’ve been stronger to have her pursue the throne almost indifferently, not really knowing her own motivation other than to get out of her situation with Vicious. She should have a marked coldness, but with a dissonant drive to find meaning. She’s empty, but doesn’t know what else to do with herself. She’s drifting, just like Spike, in this dream world. They’ve dissociated to deal with the pain.
Vicious. Criminally over-acted. Again, this could just as easily be laid at the feet of the writing and directing rather than Alex Hassell’s efforts.
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I don’t think Hassell was right for the part in general, but this adaptation absolutely eradicates the gravity of Vicious by injecting him with farcical melodrama and yet another weak backstory. He’s portrayed as a loose-cannon with major daddy issues, rather than the cold, calculating raptor that he is in the anime. If anything, Vicious should’ve been UNDER-acted by someone with an enthralling poker-face. When you look into his eyes, you should see nothing.
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His motivation is to leave people devastatingly, inexorably face-to-face with their own profound weakness. He is a mercilessly precise psychoanalyzer, and a blade straight to the heart of what makes us fearful about ourselves--the beast, the shadow, perfectly adapted for survival against a meaningless world of dreams. This adaptation forces Vicious to his knees, often literally, completely unable to control himself. The exact opposite of the character’s true nature.
Gren. I don’t have too much to say about Gren, other than I feel they robbed another character of their dignity and weight.
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Gren shouldn’t have showed up in this first season. He should’ve arrived in the second season and his story should’ve been kept in tact. He wasn’t trans. His character was a veteran of the War on Titan, and when he was betrayed by his old comrade, Vicious, he became so depressed that he was given an experimental drug which increased his estrogen levels, causing him to grow breasts. Making him trans didn’t offer anything to the character, though Park’s portrayal isn’t without its charm, and I do think they could’ve played the character better. When Park is able to take the character down to earth, they shine much better than the superficial pageantry that defines too much of the character in this iteration. Showrunner Andre Nemec (upon whom I place the majority of blame for this turnout) said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly,
"Gren does not have a good history of becoming a nonbinary character. [It's] dark and didn't feel like the story that I thought was important to tell," Nemec explains. "I never wanted Cowboy Bebop to be a picture of a dystopian future. I wanted it to be nostalgic, but also hopeful. People, I believe, always find their ground, and a way to excel — to live in a better world. A person being nonbinary isn't a discussion. It's just a fact."
source: https://ew.com/tv/cowboy-bebop-mason-alexander-park-gren-nonbinary/
So it becomes clear here that Nemec never had any respect for the tone of the original series to begin with, and Gren’s character alterations were little more than a way to shoehorn in a superficial modern conception of who the character SHOULD be in an idealized iteration of Cowboy Bebop as Nemec himself wanted it, not as it masterfully existed. Nemec would’ve done well to acknowledge that it wasn’t his job to judge the series and build something he thought was morally better, but rather his job was to understand the series at its depths and call forth its essence into reality with good faith and dignity. Instead, he completely abandons the most important aspect of the series: the TONE.
THE TONE:
You cannot tackle a series like Cowboy Bebop--you cannot adapt it in any other form--without first fully understanding and respecting its tone.
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Cowboy Bebop (anime) is a bittersweet noir at its core. It is thoughtful, brooding, and existential--even a bit absurdist. But that doesn’t mean it’s grim. On the contrary, it’s absurdism comes out in the playfulness of its jaded characters. Spike isn’t hopeless, he’s unattached.
“Whatever happens, happens.”
“I try not to think.”
He says that, but its only the persona that allows him to slip in and out of any situation without risking attachment. He saves the dog (Ein). He trains Roco. He even empathizes with Vincent, and sees himself and probably even Vicious in that character. He knows what war and violence does to a person, and his spirit lives in understanding for them. He lives as an absurdist, but he has faith (or, at minimum, curiosity) in spirituality. Let’s not forgot the wonderful character of Laughing Bull, which the live-action adaptation completely does away with, to its peril.
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Laughing Bull is a part of that hopeful, sweet-in-the-bittersweet nectar of Cowboy Bebop’s tone. What parts of Bebop are bright aren’t without their depth, because the levity is grounded in irreverence most often, with the wonderful exception of Ed, who shines like a supernova and cuts straight through the grit. She’s the perfect counterbalance.
But back to that bittersweet tone, there are elements of the series which define it that Nemec either didn’t grasp or didn’t respect enough to maintain. Too much backstory is shoehorned in, and every backstory is a disastrous farce compared to its supposed inspiration. Jet’s family is superfluous. Faye’s fake mother is a cringe-inducing joke. God only knows what they’re going to do to Ed, who actually has one of the more cohesive backstories, ironically enough. The anime was all about TRANSIENCE.
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The backstories of these characters came in fleeting flashes as they reminisced about their lives before the dream began. They all felt as though they’d already lived their better lives, and in the wake of the collapse of those lives they’ve been living in a dream defined by ennui and mourning. They’re living day to day, moment to moment, and slowly the whiff of family begins to collect again around this ragtag team of bounty hunters. But it can’t last, because everyone’s past comes back to collect in one way or another. They’re released from the dream of the Bebop, and just as quickly as their stories merged, they diverged once again and all were on their way.
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That transience is given stylistic lip service in this live-action adaptation, as much of the story’s deeper elements are--if they exist at all for Nemec’s unfaithful interpretation. Nemec didn’t understand the assignment. He was the wrong man for the job.
The directing was atrocious. An absurd amount of canted angles. Overdramatizing fish-eye close-ups.
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Rickety choreography (although Spike’s eradication of the Neptune gang is a standout shot). The acting was campy, as though the director and showrunner assume that any adaptation from an animated series must have a superfluous quality to it--which is another example of not understanding the assignment. The cinematography, among a host of other style elements, seemed hell-bent on robbing the story of any gravity and dignity it may have had and supplanting it with insubstantial style and pageantry. This effort is an insult not only to the characters and the story, but to the spirit of the music which gives the show its soul. There was no dignity to this adaptation. I keep going back to that, but it’s so incredibly important, and its the smoking gun of a failed assignment. You cannot tackle a series like Cowboy Bebop--you cannot adapt it in any other form--without first fully understanding and respecting its tone. The tone is the whole spirit of a show like this.
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It is the single most defining aspect of the work, and if you do not do your homework and engage with it deeply and emotionally so that you come out of it with a sense of responsibility rather than viewing it as an established name within which you can inject your own narratives, then you will deservedly, devastatingly fail. This series is a caricature of Cowboy Bebop, not an adaptation of it. It is a cursory understanding, if that, of the series as a whole. Watanabe voiced concerns that his consulting role was little respected, and those concerns turned out to be absolutely justified. They didn’t seem to want Cowboy Bebop. They wanted an established vehicle for a highly stylized Netflix venture.
RADICAL EDWARD:
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Real quick, there have been a lot of complaints about the bit part in which we see Ed. It’s not enough to fully judge, and I’d rather not destroy the spirit of the lucky kid who’s getting the chance to bring the character to life--to say nothing of how she’s being directed to do so. I’ll reserve judgment.
THE END:
I think it was a good decision to end the first season on Fallen Angels, and that episode has strong moments. The fight between Vicious and Spike actually turned out better than I expected, and the dialogue in the key moment was kept well, and even delivered pretty decently. Aside from that, the Julia twist was an absolutely nauseating disaster of a decision.
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A terrible idea born out of a misguided effort to concoct a culturally appealing evil queen out of a character who didn’t deserve that sort of treatment. It wasn’t properly developed, the moment came as a profoundly unwelcome surprise, and its intended narrative purpose--to end the season with Spike having no one left--is heavily overshadowed by its tone-deaf attempt to establish as many hard-ass female characters as it can manage. The story already had them, but this adaptation has no understanding of what made them so.
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Instead, it opts for more pageantry that isolates us from the characters rather than drawing us in toward their depths. It understands characters as icons, not people. Insofar as it understands them as people, they only mimic personality. They don’t embody the suffering of real people. The anime used down-to-earth dialogue and character development to bring a stylized sci-fi noir down to reality, with little gushing over its own superficial appeal. Netflix’s adaptation uses style as a stand-in for depth of character development and story. It spends a lot of time developing bad character stories where the original anime could poetically tell many, many character stories with precisely chosen vignettes to much greater artistic effect. Where the anime’s attention to detail was esoteric and understated, the Netflix adaptation takes every opportunity to flash itself to us, and the details are all superficial nostalgia.
OVER ALL (TL/DR):
This adaptation takes in the original anime superficially. It sees the style and denies the value of the substance, instead opting to supplant it with its own far less intuitive, far more superficial restructuring of the characters and story. It shoehorns in terrible expansions and reimaginings of the characters’ stories, which completely decimates the intimacy of the dysfunctional ragtag family unit of the Bebop crew. It attempts to regain this with saccharine throw-away lines and a complete misunderstanding of the value of hope in the context of this series, which only comes to this crew in relation to the bitter pasts which showrunner Andre Nemec (pictured below) vocally denied the value of--but which gives that hope weight rather than just shallow platitude. He wanted the series to be hopeful rather than dystopian, completely missing the fact that it isn’t dystopian--it’s noir. Mars is a thriving place, as are multiple places the crew finds themselves. It’s their world which is cold and hypnagogic. Their personal worlds. The lives they’ve led.
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More than anything else, this adaptation abandons the most important aspect of the series: the tone. It doesn’t engage in the story at its depths, which is the only way to understand the profound value of it. They sacrificed substance for style, and threw out its meaningful struggles in favor of poppy, kitschy, edgy fluff. It doesn’t respect the source material, which Watanabe himself complained of in regards to his tertiary role as a consultant--which only seems to be credited as an obligation and for disingenuous credibility, despite Watanabe’s vocal concerns about how little his opinions seemed to be valued in adapting Cowboy Bebop. Read a quick note about that here: https://comicbook.com/anime/news/cowboy-bebop-live-action-netflix-anime-creator-comment/
The series is an unfaithful failure in the final analysis. Yoko Kanno, Mustafa Shakir, and Tamara Tunie did what they could, but it couldn’t fix a bad faith adaptation. Looking forward to owning the new music, though.
See you, space cowboy.
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lutavero · 2 days ago
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You expect me to deal with the world's most notorious arms dealer alone, while you watch your daughter's recital? She's got the lead. That's fair.
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d2071 · 2 days ago
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Mine too, I'm afraid
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venushasvixens · 2 days ago
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That one time that Spike said sorry and Jet was taken aback because the little shit is too prideful to admit when he’s messed up
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valleydean · 2 days ago
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your honor, i’ve killed a thousand men for him and i’d kill a thousand more
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zekedunbar · 15 hours ago
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“[Jet] is bound with Spike in a relationship of unspoken but unshakeable mutual trust.”
“A good counter to Spike’s devil-may-care attitude, Jet is the only man that Spike, a lone wolf, will trust. They bicker constantly like an old married couple, but when it comes to business, they’re always pros.”
“Ever since Jet teamed up with Spike three years ago, their relationship has been tested time and time again, but the bond of mutual trust between them has never been broken. They both suffer from unhealed emotional wounds, and understand the unyielding pain of loss. And so they offer each other a tacit compassion and invaluable companionship.”
- The Official Bebop Anime Guides, Vol. 1, 3, and 6
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super-nowa · a day ago
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watched the live action yesterday with my dad and AAAAAAA A GOOD LIVE ACTION ADAPTATION HOW I'VE WAITED
i love john cho in the role aaaa
so i had to draw some spike ofc
he's kind of a mix of og anime spike and live action spike with the suit and his face lol cuz idk
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lutavero · 9 hours ago
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I kind of like the dog. It's fuzzy and cute but... It shoots video from its eyes. That's probably not the least it can do.
Ein in Cowboy Bebop
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jetspikepub · a day ago
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eyelashes 🖤
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