Cowboy Bebop review: Netflix’s bloated new show is a crime against the classic anime

With enough Dutch angles per minute to give Danny Boyle an excuse to sue on intellectual property grounds, the live-action Cowboy Bebop is not disorienting, but it is a victim of an ailment commonly known as’Netflix swelling‘.

This is something that you have probably experienced, even if it was unconsciously. The true effects of Netflix Bloat can be felt in around half of shows like Jessica Jones, Altered Carbon, and Lost in Space, all event shows that were big enough to be promoted on billboards in Noida. In general, it was agreed that they would have been much better if they had been shorter.

With 10 episodes of varying lengths ranging from 40 to 60 minutes, Cowboy Bebop lacks the elegant sentimentality of the original anime. Instead, it’s a visually ambitious romp that no doubt exists primarily because the two Guardians of the Galaxy films became runaway hits. But in a classic Hollywood example misinterpreting what makes a property great, after Tim Burton’s Batman, the industry decided it wasn’t superheroes that should be milking, but pulp characters from the 40s, Cowboy Bebop leans on the Western spatial syntax of the narrative, and not the emotion-driven core of what made the Guardians films so special.

John Cho (controversially) plays Spike Spiegel, a former mob hitman who has created a new life for himself as a bounty hunter who leaps into the galaxy. Along with former cop Jet Black, rival bounty hunter Faye Valentine and a Corgi named Ein, he goes on episodic adventures while at the same time trying to evade the ghosts of the past.

And there, in essence, is where the show will divide the audience. You can appreciate the quirky narrative — though sometimes laborious — or you can focus on the backstories of the characters, confusing as they often are. Spike was in love once, but the girl ran away. All his attempts to overcome it have failed dramatically. Played by Elena Satine, Julia is a classic fatal woman, and is now in an abusive relationship with Spike’s nemesis, a vigorous white-haired man named Vicious.

Like the Guardians films, and to a greater extent Joss Whedon’s Firefly, Cowboy Bebop was (and is) a story about a family found, about a motley group of misfits who, in the confines of a crude spaceship, discover themselves not only with each other, but not to sound corny, also will to live. Shinichiro Watanabe’s cartoon, which is also available on Netflix, by the way, was in many ways ahead of the curve and somehow represented the anxieties of millennials years before their target audience came of age. Like the other great existential anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop was instrumental in introducing Japanese animation to international audiences. In other words, it was the kind of crossover success that Hrithik Roshan wanted Kites to be.

But what the cartoon accomplished effortlessly – thanks in large part to its strong Western influences, from jazz music to film noir to cowboy movies – the live-action version is usually tied in a knot. Should you cater to viewers who have seen the animated series, or should you do your thing and create an identity of your own? Ultimately, the live-action show does neither, and simulates only the most obvious aspects of the cartoon: aesthetics. But, curiously, it is never presented as a program that imitates the westerns of noir films; is presented as a show that imitates other the show’s impression of what westerns and black movies are.

For all its visual flair, there’s a cheesy retro vibe at play here that evokes wacky sci-fi movies from the ’50s – by the time the show really gets to the heart of the matter, eight episodes have passed, and you already have. checked. out of.

The only saving grace here is the cast. Cho is a charismatic and enigmatic Spike, while Mustafa Shakir injects just the right amount of humanity into Jet. But it’s Daniela Pineda who stands out. After initially emitting serious Anne Hathaway energy as host of the Oscars, she finally wins you over with her enthusiasm. Pineda almost wants you to worry about the show. And that is noble.

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