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Tuesday, December 14, 2021 

Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop does a horrible disfavor to its source material, and is cancelled after just one season

Peter Pischke at the Federalist commented on what the new live action Netflix adaptation of Shinichiro Watanabe's manga and anime series, Cowboy Bebop, one of the most famous of the late 90s. Some of the mistakes include:
The show’s amnesiac bounty hunter Faye is now played by Daniella Pineda. With Netflix’s go-ahead, Pineda made sure fans knew before release she thought the original was problematic. The production would be “updating” all offensive elements resulting in Pineda’s new “pro-female-protagonist” Faye, who has all the subtlety of a porn star and a quarter of the talent.

There is much “updating’ in the new “Bebop.” Gone are those paltry 20-minute episodes; now we are going for 50. Instead of self-contained stories, there are serialized plotlines. Everything is now part of the grand conspiracy. Where characters had nuanced motivations, and minority characters (like all well-written humans) contained flaws, they have all been airbrushed away. Gone is the tragic intersex character of Gren, originally inspired by David Bowie. Instead, we get Gren, the non-binary, dance club-owning, sex-positive trans icon.

After the initial release, fans and onlookers reacted poorly to a clip showcasing the poor acting by the new version of the fourth principal character, Ed, the hacker. Ed is now non-binary and played by trans actor Eden Perkins. Ed the Hacker now goes by they/them. Well, Ed can no longer be an interesting well-rounded character, but at least they have pronouns.
When Japanese deal with themes like these, they usually don't do it as a political motivation. USA writers, by contrast, sadly do, and that's why the latter usually end up becoming such embarrassments. And a show lasting almost an hour is, at this point, just too long.
The danger with Netflix’s version is that it will supplant the actual for so many new viewers. It’s like trying the colorized, over-dubbed version of “Casablanca” first, instead of the real thing. They are only getting a taste of what makes this work of art tremendous and might become mistaken in its lack of potency.
The live action show looks like it's been cancelled within a pretty short amount of time (via The Verge). But chances certainly are high it'll cloud some people's perceptions, and make them more discouraged than interested in watching the original animated series. That's the sad, potential effect many live action adaptations in the west can result in. If many find the live action show bad, they'll have even less interest in seeing the original. Even though animation was kept marginalized in the USA for many years, relegated to children's-only medium, and it still holds very true today as well. Netflix may have compounded the disinterest in adult animation with this latest PC venture of theirs.

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