Cowboy Bebop is a live-action series based on a 1998 Anime, which I’ve not seen before, so this is my first glimpse into this world.
It opens with a gunman gang, led by Tanaka, shooting up a casino and stealing the cash, whilst complaining that corporations are on control of everything, and the working man is always on the losing end.
Meanwhile, Spike Spiegel (John Cho – Star Trek Beyond) struts in, all cool as a cucumber, saying he just wants to place a bet. However, it’s only a moment before a ton of well-choreographed action kicks in, with guns blazing etc. There’s no alarms and no surprises as to how it turns out – and you do feel like a few bullets would resolve things far more quickly – but it delivers on the entertainment stakes and amuses, including when gang member Frank fires a Disruptor, which is like blowing a hole in a spacecraft, and everything flying outside, and those who remain are left trying to hang on for their lives.
This brings us into the world of bounty hunters Spike and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir – Brawl in Cell Block 99), the latter of whom has a fake metal arm, and these partners are always arguing with each other, so amongst the banter, it’s a love/hate relationship… in that they can’t do without each other, but they have to tolerate each other at the same time.
So far, I’ve seen two episodes, with the story moving on fairly quickly, the opener showing the pair going after Asimov (Jan Uddin), who’s looking to source 100 vials of Red-Eye for the owner of a bar – it’s a liquid which you squirt into the eye to get high… although this the stuff is stolen from The Red Dragon Syndicate, and they want it back; and how Spike used to be a hitman for The Syndicate (such is what I gleamed from the origins), and… yep, my head’s spinning, so don’t try to follow this two closely. Just sit back and enjoy the ride.
Episode 2 takes in the duo chasing a bounty on a one-handed Venusian bomber – who’s blowing up public buildings at night, but whenever they do a job and bring in the bounty, they still have to pay for any damage caused by bringing Tanaka in, as you’ll see with what happens to the casino in the first episode.
Cowboy Bebop is all very flashy – and with two lead characters where Spike is dressed very fancy, while Jet’s more the hard-nosed mercenary – and a lot of the time, I’ve no idea what’s really going on, but it’s entertaining to watch which is the important thing. It also has quite a few laughs thrown in, due to the interaction between the characters.
Aside from being based on an anime I haven’t seen, in some ways, the way everything plays out doesn’t feel wholly original, but then it does feel more than the sum of its parts, and comes together very well.
Daniella Pineda (left in the main picture) (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) takes the role of Faye Valentine, who may or may not be trying to hinder the leads’ progress (I’m still trying to figure out). Oh, and whenever anyone says “There’s nothing to worry about”… that’s usually the moment when things go wrong 😉
It’s futuristic with a Steampunk bent, so even a bar in episode 2 sends messages to other places via vacuum tubes which fly off elsewhere, like how factories used to operate before the widespread use of email. Similarly, Jet’s tracker system, Marvin, is an old Apple Mac machine from the early-to-mid ’80s. But like I said, don’t try to understand it or take it too seriously.
Plus, at one point in the opener, John Cho is bare-chested, and is absolutely ripped to the max, so he’s spent a long time in the gym. I figured – well, he must be MUCH younger than me, surely, because I’m nothing like that, with a spare tyre for sale. In reality, he’s younger, but only slightly. Now that makes me feel old 😀
Thanks to our friends at Netflix for the screener prior to release.
Cowboy Bebop is not available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but is on Netflix from Friday November 19th.
Episodes 1-2 Score: 7.5/10
Running time: 40-55 mins per episode
Release date: November 19th 2021
Series Directors: Alex Garcia Lopez, Michael Katleman
Producers: Cameron Angeli, Adrienne Erickson
Characters: Hajime Yatate, Keiko Nobumoto
Writers: Christopher Yost, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, Alexandra E Hartman, Jennifer Johnson, Vivian Lee, Liz Sagal
Music: Yôko Kanno
Spike Spiegel: John Cho
Jet Black: Mustafa Shakir
Faye Valentine: Daniella Pineda
Julia: Elena Satine
Vicious: Alex Hassell
Santiago: Blessing Mokgohloa
Kimmie Black: Molly Moriarty
Asimov: Jan Uddin
Caliban: John Noble
Judy: Lucy Currey
Hakim: Cali Nelle
Carlos: Fungai Mhlanga
Jobim: Lutz Halbhubner
Antonio: Arthur Ranford
Chalmers: Geoff Stults
Mao: Rachel House
Ana: Tamara Tunie
Gren: Mason Alexander Park
Shin: Ann Truong
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.