CONTENT WARNING: Spoilers for Cowboy Bebop are discussed in this article.
When Netflix made the decision to adapt the 90s gateway anime Cowboy Bebop as a live-action series, that included the challenge of taking on a group of dynamic characters.
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The first 10 episodes not only introduced the initial core trio of bounty hunters, but added new faces, replicated others, and provided viewers with new interpretations of previous one-shot additions. With a galaxy of characters to choose from in the first sci-fi anime-inspired season of Cowboy Bebop, these powerful characters properly utilized their influence, skill, or even intelligence, in the best ways possible.
Gren wasn’t active in the anime beyond the episodes "Jupiter Jazz", but thenew series positions Gren as a recurring role. She primarily sticks to the shadows of the series to observe, making better use of a character that was already interesting inthe series' source material.
As Ana’s closest friend and ally during their nightlife business and considering her ties to powerful figures, Gren knows how to survive. Because of the character’s tight connections to important people,Gren canestablish safety even in the most dangerous of situations. Working up to becoming an influential person’s comrade usually bodes well as a power play. Not a bad adaptation of a promising character!
In the anime, Mao Yenrai was a one-session-included capo of the Red Dragon crime syndicate, but the series gives Mao much more involvement.
As a capo, Mao primarily interacts with Vicious and Julia, showing a different focus on the organization and its power struggles. Mao’s interest in Julia committing to aGame of Thrones-style betrayal is important to herpursuit of power,and her connections to the established pacifist Anamakesthis capoa heavy hitter. From a quick death in the anime to a sought-after ally in the live-action version, Mao has worked her way up in the world!
Yes, Ein is still a beloved meme-able character in Cowboy Bebopand one of the reasons to be excited about the series, but the seemingly harmless pup is much smarter than he lets on.
Ein’s origin story was one of the deviations in the new Netflix series, giving slightly less intelligence in comparison to the anime - but still a few nifty tricks. In the second half of the series, Ein comes through to save his Bebop crewmates, escapes the prospect of death, and even assists inrecruiting Radical Edward. If anything, Ein will be a full-fledged member if or when season two rolls around.
There are brief references to afan favoriteCowboy Bebopmain character that’s rooted in the technological aspects of the series - and by the end of the first season’s last moments, the zany hacker Ed debuts!
Ed is the furthest from being a fighter or even a legitimate threat, but Ed has the ability to change the world(s) to her liking. Incessant communication to anyone that the hacker hopes to reach, insight on bounties, and even tracking down Spike makes Ed’s addition a potential power-flex. Even when off-screen, Ed was prepared to save Spike when the ex-syndicate member was in danger of a more permanent ending than he's used to.
Ana is a jazz club owner in the new series where some of the most respected andfeared people gather, giving her much more importance than her previous incarnation. This version of Ana keeps her in the thick of the plot andmakes her an intelligent, lovable aid to Spike.
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Ana is the character in the series that has insight into everyone’s personal lives, often dropping tidbits of information when needed. Sure, it gets her into trouble, but not without proving herself to be extremely helpful. Ana is definitely a character who’s in danger in the future because of her heart and connections, but for now, many can appreciate that she came, saw, and survived.
Without the intimidatingly warm presence of Jet Black, there would be no Cowboy Bebop. No really, it’s his ship. That said, the character brings assertive paternal energy to the series.
As Mustafa Shakir has already proven to be the embodiment of Jet in voice, presence, and attitude, his heart makes him one of the series’ best. Jet’s experience as an ex-officer with plenty of fights under his belt in addition to hissmarts makes Jet a highly underrated character in the new Cowboy Bebop. He might not be the best at bounty hunting or crime-solving, but at the very least, he can get by on his own or in the company of others.
Faye Valentine, in every sense, is a beloved anime protagonist. Her notable reputationadds to an interesting character depiction, but the Netflix title executes her skillsets rather impressively.
In the new Cowboy Bebop, Faye gets to wholly embrace her action, comedic tone, and almost anime-like mannerisms in Daniella Pineda’s performance, which makes this a pivot that actually works. Conversely, Faye is still dangerous and charming, making her a bit lighter feels like it pays off. When she does need to change up her scenes to follow one of the series' strongest story arcs,viewers get to discover that she’s a resilient survivor. Thatunderstandingof adaptability is anessential quality to being considered powerful in thechallenging world of Cowboy Bebop.
In both versions of Cowboy Bebop, Vicious plays a vital role, but in the new series,fans actually get to see a deeper power struggle the antagonist faces.
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Opting to reveal his ongoing relationship with Julia, viewers constantly see Viciousexpose his vulnerability in terms of being taken seriously. The repeated of questioning Vicious’ masculinity builds to his most dangerous moments, and the character’s friendship with Spike is highlighted enough to add greater tension to his villainous descent. If the series returns, Vicious will likely be looking for complete vengeance, and because of the unknown, he’s become an increasingly bigger asset to the fresh adaptation.
In the original anime, Julia wasn’t exactly a character that was around enough to establish herself, but was present for one of the saddest Cowboy Bebop episodes. Now, Julia is important from the very beginning and makes some of the biggest moves in the series.
Julia’s full-on commitment to becoming a femme fatale noir villain is probably the most exciting revelation at the end of the season. There are signs that lead up to it, but her goal to claim the throne comes with a choice to kill Spike. The moment makes viewers rethink every scene she was in leading up to the ending, and her shift as an ambiguous villain makes her a genuinely compelling and character.
When Cowboy Bebop comes to mind, the one character that’s at the forefront of power and presence is the iconic Spike Spiegel.
In the Netflix title, Spike remains the best fighter in the solar system, with a reputation as “Fearless” and the potential to lead the syndicate. On top of his exceptional fighting skills and marksmanship, Spike was able to fake his own death and deceive the syndicate for several years (as well as his former flame Julia). It not always winning a fight that makessomeone strong, it’s the ability to bounce back. If Spike has mastered anything in the 10 episode season, it’s the art of getting by. Whatever happens, happens.
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