This Spike Spiegel in flesh and blood does not have the little extra soul that gives all its power to the 1998 anime. Nevertheless, it is damn spectacular!
Paradoxically, this Cowboy Bebop made in Netflix is perhaps reserved for those who know nothing about the original series. Daring a hyper-faithful reproduction of the anime created in 1998, this “live action” version – which will be online tomorrow – struggles to find the same melancholy force, but it comes out with honors, so much the spectacular decorum imposes.
A surreal near future in which humanity has conquered a good part of the Galaxy, settling on Mars, Venus, Titan … To hunt down outlaws, the interplanetary police agency (or ISSP ) uses bounty hunters called “cowboys”. Former gun carrier for the all-powerful “Syndicate” of crime, Spike Spiegel tracks down scoundrels throughout the solar system, accompanied by his partner Jet, an ex-cop just released from prison after being trapped …
To say the least, the new series visually impresses. The reconstruction of the 2071 era is quite eye-catching and fully assumes to be a copy-paste of the anime, in which the original director also participates. Shin’ichirō Watanabe clearly worked so that his unique space western was thus transposed as closely as possible. Suddenly, it is sometimes disconcerting to see to what extent the Netflix version takes up line for feature – sometimes up to the scene – the elements of the anime. To the point of often flirting with a little “cosplay fan film” side. But the means put in by the streaming giant are up to the ambitions: the ships, the futuristic cities, the colonized planets and even the sequences in the stars are sufficiently impressive to dispel doubts.
Aesthetically, there really isn’t much to complain about. This Cowboy Bebop there is resolutely beautiful. Style. Spectacular too, because the beats that punctuate the anime are not reproduced at a discount in this live action version. Beautifully choreographed, carefully staged, they are often cheerful. Cool even!
Yes, Cool … the watchword of Cowboy Bebop. From the anime, but also from the series, which desperately tried to keep this iconic “coolness” of Spike Spiegel. She gets there, sometimes, but too often at the crowbar! The neo-noir atmosphere clearly sounds artificial. The fun and relaxed atmosphere is constrained by jazzy music overflowing each shot. And to give the change, the casting cabotine up and down and across, trying in vain to match the class of their drawn alter egos. John Cho, despite all his charisma, does not make a very good Spike, not helped, it is true, by pale supporting roles. Not helped either by dialogues which knock down at all costs but too often shoot near the target. This Cowboy Bebop this is not very spiritual. Neither really funny, nor really touching.
Without a doubt, from this point of view, the Netflix series failed to capture either the magic or the soul of the original. But it is nonetheless a pleasant entertainment. A frenetic and impetuous space western, which will know how to make its small effect, especially on those who will discover here, for the first time, the bubbling world of Cowboy Bebop.