Cowboy Bebop - Why Anime Fans Are Unhappy with the Live-Action Characters

My thoughts on the first screenshots of Cowboy Bebop Netflix as a fan of the anime for over 20 years

By Iyane Agossah

August 24, 2021

You’ve already heard the news by now, Netflix revealed the first screenshots for its live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, some fans are pretty excited, while others are very unhappy or skeptical, myself included.

There are several reasons why anime fans and those who’ve seen the original Cowboy Bebop are worried and unhappy with what we’ve seen of the live-action for now. I’ve been an anime fan for as long as I can remember, and first watched Cowboy Bebop 20 years ago, a few years after Sunrise first aired the anime in 1998. Here are my thoughts.

Cowboy Bebop Official Trailer

Cowboy Bebop Official Trailer

4th Cowboy Bebop main character Ed is strangely missing from the screenshots

Ed, the genius hacker kid who joins the Bebop crew a few episodes into the series, is strangely missing from all the screenshots Netflix revealed so far. And don’t worry, Ed joins extremely early, this isn’t a spoiler.

Edward is an extremely important character and the fourth main character of the series. Appearing together with Spike Spiegel (played by John Cho in the live-action), Jet Black, (Mustafa Shakir), and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) in the iconic OP animation with Yoko Kano’s Tank! playing.

Ed’s absence is especially weird seeing Netflix chose to reveal Ein, the dog who joins the Bebop right at the series’ beginning. To keep things spoiler-free, let’s just say Ein and Ed are extremely linked characters. Many fans are unhappy and confused that Ein was included but Ed wasn’t. Of course, it’s still possible Ed will show up in another way in the series. But Ed is the favorite character of many fans, and one of the reasons why Cowboy Bebop is so unique, so this is a worrying situation.

Cowboy Bebop anime fans are unhappy with the Netflix cast’s costumes, overall feel of the series

No offense to the cast, but I’d also like to point out how Spike and co’s outfits could have definitely been adapted in a better way for live-action. It really lacks some kind of spark that the anime’s designs have.

Needless to say, there’s also Faye’s case. Of course, some will say her original outfit from the anime was censored or toned down. I personally disagree, and I think it’s more like her clothes were changed so it could work as a live-action. Faye’s clothes are typical impossible anime clothes. A professional cosplayer can pull it off, but for a photo shoot. It’d be impossible to move around, much less do action scenes for a live-action, in her original outfit.

However, while I do believe there was a need to change Faye’s outfit, they could have definitely come up with a better coord. Something more vibrant. More striking. Maybe it’s just the screenshots that feel this way, but it lacks something like the flashiness the original anime has. The design of her boots is super cool for example, but you barely even see it anyways. And I picked Faye as an example, but the same can be said for Spike and Jet too.

Is it really still Cowboy Bebop?

Other fans also pointed out the obvious lack of cigarettes in the screenshots. We’re in fiction here, so the restraint is weird. Smoking is bad in real life, but it’s one of the coolest things in anime, and the original Cowboy Bebop heavily played with that. This is another worrying situation in my book.

To get even more personal, what all these screenshots made me feel is that I’m not really the target audience for this project. I’ve never been a fan of western-produced live-action adaptations of anime. Be it from Holywood or Netflix. And if I want more Cowboy Bebop, I could watch similar anime, rewatch the original anime and movie, and play games like Super Robot Wars T.

Needless to say, it’s still super early to judge, and we’ll see how the series turns out when it’s out on November 19, 2021. What do you guys think of the screenshots? Do you feel like you’re the target audience of Cowboy Bebop Netflix? You can always reach me @A_iyane07 for a chat.

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Iyane Agossah

Living near Paris, Iyane is the head of Japanese content at DualShockers. He speaks Japanese, has been watching anime for over 25 years, and plays Genshin Impact mainly for its story. You can reach him on Twitter at @A_iyane07.

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