Cowboy Bebop (Netflix) (4/5)
Once again, I'm in the camp of "I like something that everyone else seems not to." Then, what else is new?
Anyway, similar to the RE adaptation, I'm going to address this work as both an adaptation and its own thing. So on that note:
I'm assuming most of you already know at least the generalities of the anime, so rest assured, the Netflix version does cover the basics - Earth is screwed, Sol system's been colonized, bounty hunters go after criminals, Spike and Jet man the Bebop, are joined by Faye and Ein (no Ed in this series bar the end), Spike's got a murky past with a criminal syndicate, etc. However, the series does differ from the anime in some key areas. While the anime relies a lot on mood/tone, the Netflix version is more conventional. As in, often, the anime would have long periods of scene-setting with little happening, bar the music. The Netflix version doesn't lack mood/ambience per se, but often, it's dialogue carrying the show rather than ambience.
This also trickles down to the characters. In the anime, there was the sense that Spike was literally drifting through life - barely talks, seems half-drunk most of the time, doesn't really care about much, etc. Characters like Jet and Faye, while not to the same extent, also had that kind of essence, which I'd argue fit in with the anime's nihilistic themes. The live-action characters are far more pro-active - Jet's constantly worrying about his daughter, Spike's good-humoured a lot of the time, Faye is aggressive and foul-mouthed, etc. This is a criticism I can get, that the Netflix characters are more 'conventional' than their anime counterparts. This doesn't really bother me too much, as I don't think anything in the show betrays the core essence of the trio (Faye's still amnisiac, Jet's still an ex-cop, Spike's still pining for Julia, etc.), but how their dramas come to the surface is different.
What's much more different however is some of the side characters. I don't remember the anime in great detail, but Vicious here...well, on one hand, I don't recall anime!Vicious having any real character, but here, Vicious is a ***** half the time. Someone who's on the edge, who's hyper-lethal, but incompetent at any actual authority, and easily slighted. I don't know if Vicious had any fans from the anime, but suffice to say, these are two very different takes. Also, Julia. Similarly, I don't remember Julia having any real presence at all, whereas here, she's a constant presence, pursuing her own agenda in the Syndicate. Since these characters were almost non-entities in the anime, i can't really fault the series from diverging per se, but it's heavy divergence nonetheless.''
So, yeah. At its core, this is a faithful adaptation, but there's significant deviations made from the anime that I could see bugging some people.
AS ITS OWN THING
I absolutely loved this.
Not perfect, but honestly, I'd put this on a similar level as Firefly. In a word, the show is "fun." Each episode stands out while an overall plot keeps moving forward, there were plenty of times when I laughed out loud, the characters are great (mostly), and, yeah. Show's all around fun. per what I said above, this might actually be one of the more significant deviations from the original, in that the original isn't really a "fun" piece of work (it's laced with melencholia, nihilism, etc.), while the Netflix series is. But again, treating it as its own thing, it's a bunch of fun and a solid space western. Also, the setting is bonkers, and a lot of the people in it are bonkers. This includes the main three.
That said, I'm actually going to give it some grief - this might be able to be applied to the original, but I can't really recall, but regardless, the thing about the Netflix series is that when you think about it, the worldbuilding doesn't really make sense.
So, very little is actually spelt out, and you need to pick things up as you go along, but basically, the solar system is connected via astral gates that allow FTL travel between planets and moons, which is good, because Earth is destroyed because its moon is destroyed, per an accident with its astral gate. Okay, fair enough. What doesn't really make sense is that the level of technology in the series is eratic - it's very much "high technology, low living," only the technology seen on many worlds is antiquated even by our standards (old 20th century cars, terribly designed mobiles, VHS players, etc.). You can make a claim that it's emphasizing that life kind of sucks for your average person in this setting, but it's a technological regression that doesn't really make sense. In something like Firefly, the difference between the Inner and Outer Planets makes sense both thematically and astro-geographically, but here, there's not really anything that distinguishes life on Mars from, say, life on Venus, or any gas giant moon. Also, for a series that takes place in 2171, the level of terraforming is insane.
But anyway, yeah. Loved this series. Absolutely sucks that there's no continuation - I guess the Netflix series can be added to the list of one-hit wonders. Maybe there'll be a continuation in some form, but I doubt it. But until then?
See you, space cowboy...