'Cowboy Bebop' Netflix: How this version differs from anime | MCU Times

‘Cowboy Bebop’ Netflix: How this version differs from anime

“It’s ‘Cowboy Bebop,’ let’s not look it up.”

That was the guiding mantra for showrunner and executive producer André Nemec and the cast and crew of Netflix’s live-action adaptation of the beloved anime series that hit the streamer on Friday.

Set in a not-too-distant future, after humans have had to colonize other planets and moons in the solar system, “Cowboy Bebop” follows a maladapted crew of bounty hunters operating out of the spaceship Bebop. This includes the ship’s hard-working captain, Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), his laid-back partner with a mysterious past, Spike Spiegel (John Cho), and – finally – the tough and determined Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda).

“I knew we were stepping on sacred ground,” Nemec said during a recent video call. “Spike, Jet, Faye, Vicious, Julia – they are such delicious characters in anime.… This felt like a great opportunity to mine their stories and answer some of the things I felt in the poetry that was anime. To dig into a deeper narrative in places for these characters. “

For Nemec and his team, “it was always about honoring the spirit of the anime,” but that does not mean that the live-action series “Cowboy Bebop” simply repeats the story told in the original.

Instead, the 10-episode adaptation mixes spot-on recall of moments from the anime with both subtle and significant narrative changes – most noticeably around the series’ women, Faye and Julia (Elena Satine) – that allow the series to stand alone.

Elena Satine is sitting at a grand piano in "Cowboy Bebop."

Elena Satine as Julia in “Cowboy Bebop”.

(Kirsty Griffin / Netflix)

The original “Cowboy Bebop” debuted in 1998 and is a groundbreaking anime often credited for helping expand the reach and reach of Japanese animation with its memorable characters, deep themes, and genre-bending storytelling. But no matter how influential the series may be, it is a product of its time, so certain portraits, including Faye and Julias, were ripe for updates.

Still, “whatever you choose to try to do differently than an originally beloved piece of IP, there’s a lot of terror and night sweats and sleepless nights involved,” said executive producer Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios.

In the anime, Faye is a cheeky and skilled bounty hunter looking for his past. She has no recollection of her life before the 50 years she spent cryogenically frozen, and for the most part, this background story remains intact in the new adaptation.

For Nemec and the authors, the first step in plotting Faye’s arc was to find out “what it’s about Faye [in the anime] which we love about Faye. “

“To me, it’s that she has the soul of a survivor,” Nemec said. “She’s scratched, she’s cunning, she’s fast, she’s vulnerable. She’s a survivor. She’s chasing her own story and her own past, and even if it bothers her, it does not stop her.”

He explained that the adjustments to Faye’s story were made so that she not only felt as empowered as she did in the anime, but also so that the empowerment developed into greater agency.

Daniella Pineda holds her hand up to John Cho's "Cowboy Bebop."

Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) in “Cowboy Bebop”.

(Geoffrey Short / Netflix)

Part of Faye’s anime backstory involves her being romanticized by a swindler who forges her death to saddle her with her insurmountable debt. But the scammer is completely new to the live-action series, which, among other things, results in this romantic element being completely cut out of live-action Faye’s past.

And when a mechanic suggests her in an episode of the new series, their experiment is not part of a schedule. It’s an experience Faye chooses, one that contributes to the process of finding out who she is.

Nemec and his team were also sensitive to instances in anime where women, including Faye and Julia, were essentially reduced to dramatic tools to advance the story of the male characters.

This was especially important for Julia, who in the anime mostly acts as a ghost from Spike’s past, appearing only as a glimpse into his memory until the final episodes. She is a much larger presence in the live-action adaptation, which addresses her, Spike and Vicious’ (Alex Hassell) shared past more clearly.

Julia “was the hardest character to get our claws in as storytellers,” Nemec said. “There was so much whole fabric that we built, [but] we did not want it to be just this full-time departure ”from the anime.

Elena Satine, John Cho and Alex Hassell in a convertible on "Cowboy Bebop."

Julia (Elena Satine), left, with Spike (John Cho) and Vicious (Alex Hassell) in “Cowboy Bebop”.

(Geoffrey Short / Netflix)

As in the anime, the live-action Julia is caught between Spike, Vicious and the world of their criminal syndicate. But Nemec knew her story was going to be more than just being the woman at the center of Spike and Vicious’ rivalry.

“I always knew we wanted to start a place where Julia and Vicious were together, but Julia was a bit of a bird in a cage,” Nemec said. And we knew, “Julia must free herself from her own cage … through her own cunning, through her own wit, through her own wisdom, through her own charm.”

Julia’s journey is one of the main differences between the new “Cowboy Bebop” and the original anime series. But her story, as well as Fayes’, better reflects the kind of storytelling around women that audiences have come to expect.

“Tomorrow Studios we produce a lot of shows,” Clements said. “‘Physically’ with Rose Byrne and Jennifer Connelly in ‘Snowpiercer’ and ‘Hanna’, as we did with Amazon – we have a lot of female protagonists who do not fit into one box. They are multidimensional, developed characters. André and the authors and we all spent a lot of time preserving some of the background history, but on creating a new journey for [‘Cowboy Bebop’s’] female characters that we felt were appropriate for our adaptation and appropriate for the audience today. “

Daniella Pineda is holding a corgi "Cowboy Bebop."

Faye (Daniella Pineda) and Ein in “Cowboy Bebop.”

(Geoffrey Short / Netflix)

Still, an adaptation can be a difficult endeavor, and Hollywood’s abysmal track record for adapting Japanese animation – see “Ghost in the Shell” (2017), “Death Note” (2017), “Dragonball Evolution” (2009) or even anime. influenced “The Last Airbender” (2010) – has left anime fans understandably on guard against new attempts.

But “Cowboy Bebop” is the rare live-action atization that manages to balance its reverence for the original series of divergent narrative elements that serve more modern storytelling. The spirit of anime lives on in the character’s essence, as well as the series’ stylish retro-futuristic world and impeccable soundtrack. Sometimes the story of an anime is best told in anime, so an adaptation does not have to be a copy.

Part of the fun of making an adaptation “is getting to turn the story in a different direction,” Nemec said. “Being able to take the story to a place that the audience does not imagine comes. If fans of the show could turn on an episode and know what the ending is, it’s not funny. And as a fan, that’s not exactly what I wanted to see. ”

‘Cowboy Bebop’

Where: Netflix

When: Anytime, from Friday

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