Cowboy Bebop Ep 1 Review: John Cho and Mustafa Shakir SHINE bright in this otherwise deranged anime remake
Cowboy Bebop Cast: John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda
Cowboy Bebop Directors: Alex Garcia Lopez, Michael Katleman
Cowboy Bebop Streaming Platform: Netflix
Cowboy Bebop Stars: 3/5
Shinichirō Watanabe’s iconic 1998 anime series now has a remake on Netflix, and I'm not sure if I could be one hundred per cent serious while calling it a successful try! While the original Cowboy Bebop was the 'shizz' in the 90s and the early 2000s, attracting fans from every part of the world including the ones who weren't fans of Japanese anime, the 2021 remake makes one lousy case for bounty hunters and we can call them anything but powerful. To think of it, we can only call them predictable!
Without spoiling the plot much, Cowboy Bebop is a story of registered bounty hunters from the year 2071 who are travelling in their spaceship called the Bebop. With Spike (John Cho) and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) in the lead roles along with Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), the series promises action, friendship and love (at one point, too much of it). John Cho starring as Spike Spiegel and Mustafa Shakir throwing in some sarcasm as Jet Black had me laud the casting directors for their choices. Cho's calm yet dominant portrayal of Spike, and Shakir's over-the-top Jet Black created certain epic scenes filled with bromance which the 1998 anime didn't pay much attention to. All Jet Black needs is a doll for his daughter, and Spiegel wouldn't stop bounty hunting until they get so!
The action sequences definitely took my breath away! If it weren't for Daniella Pineda's kicks and punches, I wouldn't have given this remake 3 out of 5 stars. She single-handedly tackled some of the significant scenes, and I couldn't help but gush over her epic hijinks with John Cho (which ultimately didn't help her case much.) However, the action-packed extravaganza without Pineda made little to no sense. Some of them were happening, just because they had to happen, and the larger-than-life affair of bounty hunters fighting to win their chance didn't come through in many instances.
While the anime too had an emotional appeal (thanks to Spike's tumultuous past), the first episode of the remake showed tidbits of the same but didn't concentrate entirely on the love affair. If you are someone who has watched the anime, you might not be surprised, but the ones who haven't might have a hard time wondering why the storyline, especially the one related to the love angle is a snoozefest, to say the least. The greater suspense regarding the bounty hunters, and Spike's deranged past, however, remained, since Episode 1 went on introducing important characters till the very end.
The live-action of Cowboy Bebop wouldn't have existed had streaming platforms not encouraged makers to dig deeper into history and create their own narratives of popular television shows, musicals and anime. Throughout the first episode, Watanabe seemed to be present, especially in the intrinsic scenes where the characters showed off their more vulnerable sides. I want to call it a "fresh" take on the 1998 anime, but I'm somehow convinced that the brand new series would've had a better appeal had it not pulled off certain chaotic scenes, or tried to bring out some cartoonish hijinks in a live-action project. So, I rest my case!