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TV Review – Cowboy Bebop (2021)

Time to eat some noodles, 3.5 readers.

BQB here with a review of the Netflix series, Cowboy Bebop.

This is a live action reboot of a classic anime series. Anime has never been my cup of tea, though Netflix has rebooted other Japanese cartoons in live action format and Death Note was one of my favorites. I’ve only watched the first two episodes thus far but I am hooked.

The best description I can provide is that it’s as if Quentin Tarantino took all the elements of a Western and a space opera, put them in a blender, hit puree, then added his patented hipness and his unbridled fascination with the 1970s. Tarantino was not involved with the production but whoever was must have been a huge fan.

The plot? In the future, humanity has colonized a number of worlds, making them look just like Earth, but for some reason, Earth as it looked during the 1970s. Space ships, space ports, space guns and so on contribute to an eye dazzling special effects bonanza, yet cars look like something Steve McQueen would have driven and buildings/decor look like Nixon and Carter are still president.

Intergalactic crime is so rampant that police put contracts out on the worst scum, creating a booming bounty hunter (called cowboys) business. Partners Spike Spiegel and Jet Black (John Cho and Mustafa Shakir) travel about in their spaceship, Bebop, looking for bounties to cash in on. It’s all very sleek and stylish and while the music, banter and gunplay are all straight out of Tarantino’s playbook, sometimes there is a cool weapon or device, such as a black hole creating gun that casino robbers use in the first episode to suck everyone and everything not nailed down into the vast nether regions of space.

Spiegel and Black are a typical odd couple. Spiegel wears a flashy suit with a turned up collar, always listening to music on his headphones with a care free attitude. Black is serious, constantly worried about the little details. He bounty hunts so he can raise enough money to provide for his daughter.

So far, at least in my watching, we’ve met Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda), a cowboy (cowgirl?) who vies the dynamic duo for a prize only to team up with them. I understand that, at least if the original series is to be adhered to, there should be a plucky data hacker and an intelligent Corgi dog on the way.

Their main enemy? The Syndicate, an evil space mafia that has its vile tentacles in everything.

Space + campiness = Cowboy Bebop. It’s not quite as campy as 1960s Batman, but there’s definitely a fun campy vibe that no one else has brought to space before. You may have never thought too much about how there’s a lack of campiness in space before, but now that it’s here, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it.

STATUS: So much of Netflix’s offerings are doody, IMO, but this one caught me. The special effects are great, yet the throwbacks to old Westerns and 1970s culture are fun. I haven’t watched the entire first season yet so I can’t guarantee that it holds up but I’m into it so far and feel like this is going to be a winner if Netflix gives it what it needs to thrive and grow. At times it can be a little confusing, and it might merit a rewatch, but then again, it’s good enough to deserve a second watch.

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