The countdown continues for the premiere next month of Cowboy Bebop, the Netflix live action adaptation of the popular anime series. The streaming giant just dropped the full official trailer for the ten-episode series. As we’ve reported previously, the original anime series premiered in 1998. It’s a space western about a group of bounty hunters on a spaceship called the Bebop. Cowboy Bebop drew critical acclaim and became a cult hit thanks in part to its striking visual style and its strong thematic elements.
André Nemec is the showrunner for the Netflix series, having previously worked as a writer and producer on Alias, as well as the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The director of the original anime series, Shinichirō Watanabe, is a consultant for the new show. Production was delayed in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because star John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle) suffered an injury on-set, which required him to fly from the show’s shooting location in New Zealand to Los Angeles for surgery.
Cho plays lead character, Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter born on Mars with a history of violent gang activity who is partial to fist-fights. Alex Hassell (Suburbicon) plays Spike’s former partner, Vicious, who is now a power-hungry Capo gangster from the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) plays Faye Valentine, a bounty hunter and con artist in debt from excessive gambling fees who spent 54 years in suspended animation after a space shuttle accident. Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) plays Jet Black, captain of the Bebop, and Spike’s ex-cop bounty hunter partner who has a cybernetic arm. And Elena Satine (Revenge) plays Julia, a stunning femme fatale who haas captivated both Spike and Vicious as rivals for her affection.
Netflix dropped the opening credits for its live-action series last month, which paid homage to the original anime opening credits (check out this side-by-side comparison), set to the original theme music. Tank!” (performed by Yoko Kanno and the Seatbelts). We even caught a glimpse of Ein, played by an adorable Welsh Corgi named Henry. That was fun and all, but then the streamer released a short skit that was also set to “Tank!”—despite the fact that Kanno had joined the project to create a brand new score for the live-action series. There can be too much of a good thing, and it seemed like Netflix was going a bit overboard with the fan service. As James Whitbrook noted at Gizmodo:
The new Bebop has yet to really back up its creatives desire to have iterated on what made the original anime so beloved in the first place, and couching itself in the familiarity of its most iconic piece of music over and over—especially when returning to the well as many times as it has so far—begins to feel more and more like it’s trying to make up for something.
This official full trailer opens with a brooding shot of Spike surveying the futuristic city of New Tijuana. “So what brings you back from the dead?” we hear a woman named Ana (Tamara Tunie, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) ask. She’s the proprietor of an underground jazz club on Mars, and something of a surrogate mother to Spike. “A week ago I did a job, a bounty,” he replies—with a partner, no less, who probably has no idea of what Spike used to be. It’s all very moody and neo-Chandler-esque, set to a somber jazz motif. Then the “Tank!” theme kicks in as we see Jet Black piloting a spaceship. “In this solar system, if the cops and the bounty hunters don’t get you, the Syndicate will,” Spike says in a voiceover. “There’s no happy ending here.”
We get hints of a doomed romance in Spike’s past (“I was dreaming”), a spot of martial arts action, and a blood-spattered, cocky Faye proposing a partnership, with a 60/40 split (in her favor, of course). And of course, we get a few more shots of our favorite Corgi, Henry. But do our merry band of bounty hunters belong to the good guys or the bad guys? “Depends on who you ask,” per Spike.
Cowboy Bebop debuts on Netflix on November 19, 2021. Will Netflix succeed in putting its own stamp on this beloved series? We’ll have to wait and see.
Listing image by YouTube/Netflix