4 Reasons Why the Critics Are Wrong About Netflix's 'Cowboy Bebop' Live-Action Remake

Netflix's Cowboy Bebop adaptation will be released on the platform on Friday, November 19, but the critics have already torn it to shreds.

Before fans have even been able to judge for themselves whether the show is any good, they would have seen it be described in reviews as "lifeless," an "eyesore," and "a failure."

But, here's the thing: they're wrong.

1. The anime is the anime, the live-action is the live-action

The behemoth that is Shinichirō Watanabe's original anime has cast too much of a shadow over the live-action, and critics are judging the show predominantly on how it compares to the original.

Honestly, this is likely to also be the case for anime fans when they sit down to watch Cowboy Bebop on Friday, November 19.

It was always going to be a difficult task to recreate the magic of Watanabe's 90s anime, especially given how influential it became to not only the medium but also the sci-fi genre as a whole.

Cowboy Bebop is one of the most beloved anime of all time, like Akira and Ghost in the Shell, so, really, if it's judged purely by how good the anime is then it was never going to win.

If you want to watch the anime then it's right there for you to enjoy, just like it has been for the past 20 years.

At least Netflix's take on Cowboy Bebop actually feels like a worthy homage to the original (unlike Death Note); it's clear the creators have a true love for it and were keen to keep the spirit of its predecessor while also adding new things to the table.

2. The incredible attention to detail

One aspect of the live-action that has to be commended is the sheer attention to detail that showrunner André Nemec and his team have paid to the way the show looks and feels.

Put the anime and the live-action side-by-side and you'll see that the sets in the latter are an identical replication of the first.

The bar where Asimov Solensan and his other half Katerina visit in New Tijuana in the anime's first episode? It's the exact same in the live-action.

The Bebop ship is designed to look identical to the anime, from the living room's yellow sofas to Jet Black's bonsai-tree filled quarters. Jet even cooks up the same bean sprout-based meals in the kitchen as he did in the original.

Not only that, but a great deal of attention was also paid to the casting of many of the side characters, from the bounties themselves to Punch and Judy in the "Big Shot" bounty hunters programme.

It's like the characters have been taken from the original and dropped into the real world, that's how similar most are to their anime counterpart.

Cowboy Bebop live-action cast
Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, John Cho as Spike Spiegel and Mustafa Shakir as Jet Black in "Cowboy Bebop" Nicola Dove/Netflix

3. It does better by its female characters

While the live-action mostly remains faithful to the original, some changes have been made—particularly to its female leads: Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) and Julia (Elena Satine).

In the anime Faye is a self-assured rebel who gets what she wants and knows how to look good whilst doing it, and Pineda's take on the character is much the same in that respect, despite one critic calling her iteration a "plucky space-age girlboss."

What's different in the Netflix adaptation is that Faye doesn't flaunt her sexiness to quite the same extremes as the anime, where many scenes highlight certain aspects of her anatomy from every possible angle.

By not making Faye be objectified to the same degree, the live-action gives viewers a chance to see past her outer beauty and focus instead on what makes her character so great—from her sassiness to her skills as a bounty hunter.

And then there's Julia, who in the anime is very much a background figure, a ghost from Spike's past who was given very little to do other than be a damsel in distress.

In the live-action, Julia is given a chance to step into the spotlight and have her own story shared alongside the Bebop crew.

While her affair with Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and her relationship with Vicious still play a significant part in the story, like it did in the anime, she's not just defined by the men in her life, she's given a lot more to work with.

Julia has her own aspirations and dreams, and while Vicious' ill-treatment of her does hinder this somewhat, she does try to actively alter the cards she's been dealt.

The changes Nemec and writer Christopher Yost made to the character and her story arc is probably the most welcome change of the lot, simply because it makes her a lot more interesting and feel more realistic.

4. The show makes some interesting changes

Without going into too much detail, it's safe to say there are a number of things that Nemec and Yost chose to do differently in the live-action that are going to come as a surprise to viewers, especially fans of the original.

By not telling the same story they ensure that, at the very least, the live-action can be seen as being separate to the anime.

Yes it's a spiritual successor, but there was no point in them just copy-and-pasting Watanabe's original for the big screen, that would have been boring and made the whole thing feel hollow.

At least by doing something different Nemec and Yost allow the show to stand on its own merit, if only fans of the original will view the live-action at face value and not define it by what came before.

Cowboy Bebop is released on Netflix on Friday, November 19.