“Cowboy Bebop” and why live action animes do not work

“Whatever happens, happens” a quote from the highly acclaimed 1998 anime “Cowboy Bebop”, and the somewhat apparent demeanor of the recently released live action adaptation.


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by David Esguerra, Reporter

The Space Cowboy is back! John Cho takes the mantle to play Spike Spiegel, a beloved character from the highly acclaimed anime, “Cowboy Bebop” in a Netflix live-action adaptation this November. After its release, Netflix’s “Cowboy Bebop” ends up being one of the best live-action adaptations of an anime in the west, but that isn’t saying much.

There is not a good track record when it comes to live-action adaptations of animated series. Especially westernized versions of beloved Japanese anime that always end up being mediocre cash grabs that feel nothing like its source material, but the live-action “Cowboy Bebop” doesn’t do this.

At times the show would feel like it’s too faithful to its source material. Sequences throughout the show felt like they were copied straight from the anime. Whole phrases were ripped straight from the anime. Even the intro is the same, despite that being a downright necessity for the show. It was a shot-for-shot recreation of the show rather than trying to be anything new.

It tried to be so much like the anime, that its action scenes were shot in very cartoony ways that messed with the tone of the show. Even some characters such as Ed did not translate well to live-action because of how overly cartoonish they already were in the anime.

One thing it had going for it was its upbeat cast. Daniella Pineda was the arrogant yet loveable Faye Valentine, Mustafa Shakir sounded and acted just like Jet Black did in the anime, and my favorite casting of all, John Cho, who perfectly portrayed the laid back attitude of Spike Spiegel and delivered many iconic lines in the same mannerism as him.

Despite its nearly perfect casting choices, it did not excuse the fact that “Cowboy Bebop” felt like a blank slate compared to its source material. It tried to be too faithful to the anime by becoming a fan-made film that recreated your favorite show with a million-dollar budget.