I finally finished watching the live action Cowboy Bebop last night. I guess you don't need to me to tell you it's not very good. Everyone's saying it now, in a heart-warming union of normally polarised political camps. The consensus seems even greater than the one for the nigh-universally disliked Thirteenth Doctor era of Doctor Who. Even Screen Rant is talking shit about it, which means they think it's very safe to do so. We can all come together in our disappointment.
A lot of people start by talking about how "cringey" Ed is, though Ed doesn't appear until the last scene of the last episode. Played by non-binary actor Eden Perkins, who, surprisingly, still doesn't have a Wikipedia entry, they come off sort of like a zany '90s Jim Carrey knock-off. Maybe Yahoo Serious. Yeah, they're pretty annoying but it's hard to imagine how else a faithful, live action version of Ed could behave.
A lot of the problems with the show stem from an attempt to apply cartoon logic to live action. The final episode recreates the cathedral action sequence from the anime where Spike falls through the stained glass window, about three storeys up. The anime cuts to him recovering in very cartoonish, full body bandages, with Faye sitting nearby, a shot that plays with Faye's association with bondage as well as the show's cartoon nature. In the live action version, Spike is simply walking normally along the wharf with a barely perceptible limp. It was kind of acceptable in the anime because the cartoon logic is acknowledged and played with--in the live action version, it just seems dumb.
The show goes out of the way to insist it's not kink-shaming, featuring a few scenes of characters literally engaged in bondage. But I guess the writers feel you have to make a very clear distinction between bondage implemented for sexual pleasure and bondage the occurs as part of a fantasy series' plot. This is what happens when you have writers who categorically don't understand fantasy.
Another recurrent problem is the show's diminishing of heterosexual male characters, particularly Spike (John Cho). His skill as a martial artist was a defining part of his character in the anime--in the live action version, he seems to be just average, except in one scene in the penultimate episode where he takes out a whole building of gangsters. Clearly meant to be as impressive as the hallway scene in Oldboy or the one on Daredevil, it suffers again from slowly executed choreography. Spike's face is kept in shadow for much of it so it seems even John Cho's stunt double is a slow-poke. It was particularly evident after watching Shang-Chi.
The sexual chemistry between Spike and Faye (Daniella Pineda) is nervously avoided by making the two of them pals who gab about loofahs. Faye has a one night stand with a woman, a sexy mechanic with pretty much no personality otherwise, who gives Faye her first orgasm. It's all done purely for titillation, which I'd normally be all in favour of except, again, it makes Spike look like chopped liver. Spike can't seem to fight any of his own battles, either, and fights he won on the anime are almost invariably now fights where he's saved by someone, usually Faye or Jet. This leads up to an intensely stupid climax in which the final nail is put in the coffin of Julia's character, or any chance that she'll be as intriguing as her anime counterpart.
For some reason, several stories have been repurposed to be about young women breaking free of their domineering or manipulative mothers. The eco-terrorist episode about the Ma Barker type with three sons is now about a Ma Barker type with two sons and a daughter who finally musters her courage and stands up to the old woman. Faye's con-man love interest, Whitney Haggis Matsumoto, from the anime becomes an older woman in live action who had posed as Faye's mother. They must put aside their differences and work together for one episode in which, at least in spirit, Faye finds she's an apple that hasn't fallen too far from the old con woman tree. It's mildly nice but tonally way out of place.
Well, the turnaround on reboots these days is like two or three years. Maybe next time the property will be exploited by people with talent.
Twitter Sonnet #1496
A challenge tilts the wind beyond the mill.
And here a stalwart crow engaged to stand.
The armour rusts despite an iron will.
He cocked his hat to stir the heartless band.
The scattered snow was like an army lost.
The snakes of smoke adorned the frosty ridge.
Behind the fighter's back he weighed the cost.
A gleaming knight defends a fateful bridge.
The steps were shifting fast beneath her feet.
The reeds were singing songs of names and heads.
Another figure took the vaunted seat.
So feeble dreams defend a score of beds.
We read of ancient fish on glowing books.
And slowly put our mouths to wire hooks.