Cowboy Bebop (2021): Cowboy Bebop: Cowboy Gospel
November 19, 2021 9:33 AM - Season 1, Episode 1 - Subscribe

First episode of the 2021 Netflix live-action adaptation. Episode description: "After getting shortchanged on the fee for a bounty, Spike and Jet head to New Tijuana on the trail of another mark -- but they're not the only ones."

If you're new to the Bebop universe, why not check out the original anime along with our previous Fanfare rewatch posts?

This one is basically an expanded version of Session #1 of the original series, "Asteroid Blues."
posted by Strange Interlude (37 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
That seemed like an... odd level of stylization for a live-action show.
posted by kyrademon at 10:08 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


Watching this show makes me think someone described Sin City (2005) to the producers and they decided to do that but for an anime.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:43 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


That seemed like an... odd level of stylization for a live-action show.

Kindof reminds me of SyFy's Happy!
posted by Quonab at 11:59 AM on November 19 [2 favorites]


I'm several episodes in and it's a bit rough in places and it works better if I pretend the anime does not exist, but John Cho's having a blast and there's a certain kind of charm to it that I don't hate. And I actually vaguely sort of enjoy it. The leads have good chemistry (although Cho definitely carries them).

Not to get too far head, but the Syndicate/Vicious/Julia stuff is the weakest part (Julia especially -- the character is poorly-written and I don't think the actress is quite good enough to pull it off).

It's fine. It's a very much a Netflix show.
posted by edencosmic at 2:19 PM on November 19 [4 favorites]


It's indeed fine and better than I expected. Live-Action remakes of anime don't have a good track record ( see Death Note, Mob Psycho 100, Full Metal Alchemist ).
posted by Pendragon at 4:17 PM on November 19


I enjoyed this way more than expected and admire the way they've expanded and elaborated on the original first episode.
posted by Coaticass at 8:01 PM on November 19 [1 favorite]


I'm digging it.
posted by valkane at 6:27 AM on November 20


Not to get too far head, but the Syndicate/Vicious/Julia stuff is the weakest part (Julia especially -- the character is poorly-written and I don't think the actress is quite good enough to pull it off)

I watched the anime for the first time a few weeks ago, and kind of felt the same way about that storyline in the original too. I saw in reviews of this version that that plot would be expanded a bit, so I was hoping they'd flesh it out a bit more, but maybe that hasn't been the case. But with the original, it was like there was an interesting bounty hunter show where every episode had a different feel and interestingly odd situations, and then they also threw in Sephiroth for some reason.
posted by LionIndex at 6:48 AM on November 20 [6 favorites]


I’m liking this a whole lot. It keeps in-touch with the anime just enough to retain the familial bond, but it’s also clearly it’s own thing. Good fun!
posted by Thorzdad at 1:34 PM on November 20


I'm a long-time fan of the anime and I thought they did a great job of adapting it as live action! It has the same vibe to me, something that would have been very easy to mess up but I think they got the right degree of stylization. And they've changed/added just the right amount of plot/character too, that it's worth watching and not just a retread of the old show.
posted by traveler_ at 5:58 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


I’m two episodes from the end and I liked it enough to spend the whole day on it.
posted by interogative mood at 7:50 PM on November 20


I just watched the first episode with my wife and we both enjoyed it. The response to this show has been mixed at best, which was a bit sad because I wanted it to be good, and I'm glad to see people here are digging it.

I guess the show doesn't work for a lot of people because either they're unfamiliar with anime and find the pseudo-anime aesthetic off putting, or... they're fans of the show who find the pseudo-anime aesthetic off putting.

I watched the original series back when it first came out and I was going through an anime phase, and while I definitely enjoyed it, I don't have a deep emotional attachment to it. In general I also don't have strong feelings about people adapting stuff that I love... if the adaption has different interpretations than I do, that's fine, and if I don't like it, that's fine too, I'll just spend my time with something else.

I generally like experiments and weird hybrids (long time defender of the SMB movie). So far I dig the janky aesthetic, and the casting is great, so we'll see how long it carries us along.

We were almost going to watch another episode last night, but then somehow Netflix suggested we should watch Lawrence of Arabia? My wife hasn't seen it so I was all like, "haha let's start watching this 4 hour epic at 11pm" and then we watched it for an hour, so... jokes on us, I guess?
posted by Alex404 at 9:07 PM on November 20


I didn’t last past the halfway point of the first episode. Cut-rate Tarantino stageyness, freshman acting class stiffness, and terrible immature dialogue. I think I’m of the opinion that you either go all-in on the live-action anime thing (e.g. Speed Racer) or you go naturalistic and work hard to nail the characters and the spirit. This just seemed like a failed attempt at an unworkable middle ground.
posted by bixfrankonis at 9:29 PM on November 20 [1 favorite]


gotta hand it to the Netflix Cowboy Bebop for at least one thing: were it not for this, I am confident that I never would have used the phrase “Geralt the Witcher at an abandoned tuna auction.”
posted by DoctorFedora at 1:48 AM on November 21 [8 favorites]


Three episodes in; at this point my brain has more or less adjusted to how they seem to have kept the rhythm of the speech from the anime, and how weird i found it at first coming from live actors.

That out the way, I've found this a lot of fun, it's got an energy unlike anything I've watched for ages. Not perfect but I'm very happy with it vs a lot of the initial critical reception?
posted by ominous_paws at 7:03 AM on November 21 [1 favorite]


I love this. I’m in no way an anime purist, having had a brief few years of discovery in my late teens and early 20s, then catching the odd movie or series now and again. I hardly remember Cowboy Bebop, constantly constantly confused it with Appleseed, I think I only watched an episode or three and really only remember there being a corgi.

But what I do love is scifi, and there is a special place in my heart for madcap stylized scifi. This hits all those buttons in the same way The 5th Element does. It’s silly where so much scifi these days seems to be DRAMA or ACTION, and I appreciate that. And bonus because I barely remember the original, all of it seems new to me. I was watching the first episode trying hard to figure out if I even recognized the story, or if it had changed from the source material, or if I was wrong in ever having seen it, but as I said, have some vague memories of Ein and that is it.

And John Cho knocks it out of the park. Again, because I don’t remember the original, I can’t say how true to form his portrayal is, but I like the very stylized character.

Ironically, I heard about this by a few people complaining about disliking the live action version. I had no idea this was recent as I’m not really aware of the anime-verse anymore. But when it popped up on Netflix with John Cho, I was hell’s yeah I want to see it. Did not disappoint.

This is perfectly silly and irreverent and I’ll take it.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 9:02 AM on November 21 [10 favorites]


I don’t understand the extreme negative user reviews on Metacritic. Is there some reason this show has upset the anime fanboys so much?
posted by interogative mood at 12:22 PM on November 21


I'm on episode three and this sure feels weird. Yes, it's live-action anime, but as mentioned previously, that feels like.. a bad choice. The casual joking around killing feels like some kind of extremely dark satire that I'm not sure I'm in the right place for. There's some fan dissonance that some of the music choices aren't hitting quite right. And wasn't Vicious, uh, cooler? Is that just nostalgia?

However, Mustafa Shakir's impression of Beau Billingslea is uncanny. I was 100% sure I'd seen Shakir in something before but, nope*, just Billingslea's voice.

Still watching, tho!

*okay technically yes in Luke Cage but very different voice so it doesn't count
posted by curious nu at 5:28 PM on November 21 [1 favorite]


The way Mustafa Shakir says "Spike!" in that tone that's a mix of Disappointed Dad, Cheesed Off Partner, and I'm So Tired Of My Freeloading Roommates is great. There's a lot about this show I really like. I just wish the Spike/Vicious/Julia part was on that list.
posted by RakDaddy at 8:17 PM on November 21 [2 favorites]


And wasn't Vicious, uh, cooler? Is that just nostalgia?

He was. But they’ve made the decision to make him a total wanker in this version.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 3:34 AM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Maybe someone should do a full-season thread? I've only finished episodes 1 & 2, but this thread seems to be turning into a full-season discussion instead of episode 1 only.
posted by oh yeah! at 3:49 AM on November 22 [5 favorites]


I don’t understand the extreme negative user reviews on Metacritic. Is there some reason this show has upset the anime fanboys so much?

Seriously? It isn't a frame-by-frame recreation of the anime, and it's live-action, and that's pretty much it. The review thread over at Ars Technica is pretty thick with fanboy angst and haters, too. Geek culture can be disturbingly immovable and blindered when it comes to their childhood loves.
posted by Thorzdad at 11:13 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


Seriously? It isn't a frame-by-frame recreation of the anime, and it's live-action, and that's pretty much it.

They're also mad that Faye now wears clothing.

I own the original DVD set of Cowboy Bebop, and I'm enjoying this. I know it's not going to be the same as the anime, and just take it as its own thing. I think it hits enough of the notes to feel familiar, but does enough new things to feel fresh.
posted by Fleebnork at 11:31 AM on November 22 [4 favorites]


As a fan of the original, I'm really enjoying this. It's far better than I was expecting, especially after reading reviews of it last week before watching it. I'm honestly pretty impressed with it, so far.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 2:50 PM on November 22


We watched the first episode, wasn't too impressed and watched the original anime (up to the first part of the two-parter). I came back to the live-action version today, and found I like it a lot more with more familiarity with the original, which is strange.

It reminds me much more of post-2000AD British SciFi (so, like Max Headroom, or Paradise Towers -era Dr Who) on the one hand and Luc Besson on the other. It's interesting to see characters appearing in both versions quite differently. So I seem to be watching both versions concurrently and enjoying them about equally.

I think it's fair to say that both versions demonstrate that Yoko Kanno is a genius, though.
posted by Grangousier at 3:53 PM on November 22 [5 favorites]


Is there some reason this show has upset the anime fanboys so much?

There is no possible remake that would have pleased all of the anime fanboys.
posted by Foosnark at 6:24 PM on November 22 [2 favorites]


It reminds me much more of post-2000AD British SciFi (so, like Max Headroom, or Paradise Towers -era Dr Who) on the one hand and Luc Besson on the other.

This is a great summary.
posted by curious nu at 6:45 PM on November 22 [1 favorite]


Watching this show makes me think someone described Sin City (2005) to the producers and they decided to do that but for an anime.

Sin City's look worked because of the monochromatic color filters worked with the noir style, while these... have more mixed results.

The extreme negative fanboy reviews obscure plenty of mundane regular negative reviews. Even the NYT isn't a fan of this rodeo.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:47 PM on November 22


It reminds me much more of post-2000AD British SciFi (so, like Max Headroom, or Paradise Towers -era Dr Who) on the one hand and Luc Besson on the other.

My friend was over Sunday night (to watch Dr.Who). Afterwards, I showed him the first episode of this Series. His first reaction was that it reminded him of Buckaroo Banzai.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:20 AM on November 23


One thing that did take me slightly aback was the extent to which Archer stole their credits sequence from Cowboy Bebop.
posted by Grangousier at 5:30 AM on November 23


May I refer you to Gunsmith Cats' intro, which predates Cowboy Bebop by several years. The similarities are, uh, pretty striking, but I think the real answer is they're all riffing on classic intros by Saul Bass.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 7:01 AM on November 23 [4 favorites]


Continuing to enjoy this having watched a few more episodes. I've only read reviews from fairly mainstream outlets and I think the criticisms have been broadly fair.

The dialogue is BAD but imo the cast are selling the hell out of it. I don't think the writers are good - they're able to lift broad chunks of ideas from the original which i think is helping to keep the overarching plotting (vs writing on the line by line banter) feeling good? I do think if they get more seasons and run out of material to lift, the drop in quality will make the way Thrones fell off at a similar point look like a flawless continuation of the source material in comparison. Gonna be bad.
posted by ominous_paws at 11:44 AM on November 23


Another anime opening antecedent: Dirty Pair (1985).
posted by The Tensor at 1:35 PM on November 23


The dialogue is BAD but imo the cast are selling the hell out of it.

Honestly I wasn't able to pin down whether the dialogue, acting or direction was kind of off. It's better than Star Wars average, but it doesn't quite feel right.

I thought maybe it's just because when I watched the show, I watched a sub. Maybe if there was Japanese audio and English subtitles, any rough edges would be smoothed over by my knowing approximately three words in Japanese that don't relate to food or taiko.

Anyway, I'm moderately enjoying it.
posted by Foosnark at 6:09 PM on November 23 [1 favorite]


So going off of oh yeah!'s comment I made a full season thread so we can get all spoiler-y across this series and the anime since that seems to be what a lot of us are dancing around. :)
posted by curious nu at 6:31 PM on November 23


Honestly I wasn't able to pin down whether the dialogue, acting or direction was kind of off.

Could it just be that it isn't that the source material is too great to be adapted, but simply the team assembled to make this show isn't up to snuff? I wonder why that happens so often, do studios just bank on name recognition when making adaptations (see nearly every single video game movie) and don't bother finding the most competent team? Contrast adaptations like this to say, the adaptation of the dubious Ready Player One novel in the hands of Steven Spielberg.

Not that there aren't inherent challenges when bringing a medium like anime to real life. But if superhero comics can do it, surely these other genres could too.
posted by Apocryphon at 10:36 AM on November 24


I'm glad lots of people are enjoying it this. I think the casting is great and I can tell they put a lot of effort into this particular vision. It didn't land for me, though. After watching the first episode I kinda just wanted to go watch the anime instead*. I think where it didn't work for me is that they went for recreating the anime's stylized action sequences and exaggerated character emotions/reactions, but those things don't work very well in live action (imo). I respect the attempt, at least.

*I actually didn't go watch the anime after the first episode. I watched Tokyo Drifter instead. I wanted to compare one of the live action influences for the Cowboy Bebop anime with this adaptation.
posted by forbiddencabinet at 2:41 PM on November 25


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