By Shawn Trommeshauser
(Dreaming in Digital)
Cowboy Bebop, the new sci-fi series streaming on Netflix, follows the exploits of Jet Black and Spike Spiegel, a pair of bounty hunters travelling the solar system while trying to make ends meet. In their line of work, they have to deal with everything the solar system sends their way from drug dealing nut jobs to ridiculous fuel costs and everything in between.
Cowboy Bebop is also based off the classic anime of the same name from 1998 with the same characters and premise. Currently rated nearly 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, many consider it to be legendary, and I’m one of them. So when Netflix announced a live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, I was excited. Though the fandom immediately split on whether or not this reboot was going to be good or if it should have been made at all. Remakes and reboots rarely have a very good track record, but I’m not against them at all, so I decided to be cautiously optimistic.
Even though it was only one day before the official release, I was treated to an early screening of the first two episodes of Netflix’s new live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop. And I have to say I enjoyed every minute! I even took a break while writing this review to watch the third episode since the entire series is now available to stream. I was too excited to wait.
John Cho and Mustafa Shakur have great chemistry together as Spike and Jet, and I was genuinely surprised how easily I believed these two were the embodiment of the characters I first saw two decades ago. And while I haven’t seen much of Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine yet, she fits in with the others just as well. I can’t wait to see more of her antics.
Without delving into specific plot details, the series appears to be moving along the same story threads as the original anime without being predictably identical. The first scene is a loose recreation of the opening of the original Cowboy Bebop movie from 2001 before leading into some of the events of the original first episode of the anime. All in all I feel they nailed the tone and feel of the original series.
Helping the perceived legitimacy of this reboot is composer Yoko Kanno. She is back composing the music just as she did for the original series. I can’t state enough how much this helps the legitimacy of the reboot. Hearing The Real Folk Blues at the end of the third episode just drove that nostalgic feeling even further.
Despite the occasional weak effect, the tone is there; the banter is fun; the humor is on-point, and it does a great job of making me want to see more.
As for anyone who has never seen the original series, some elements may seem odd at first, but if you give it a chance, Cowboy Bebop is an excellent show so far that delivers comedy, action, and fantastic visuals on top of a traditional noir crime story. And if the new series continues to match the quality of the original, this reboot may end up surprising everyone.
See you space cowboy.