Cowboy Bebop could quite possibly be considered one of the best anime ever. A believable universe the characters exist in, a focus on the personality side of space bounty hunting, the actual funny interactions between the main cast, and a masterclass narrative, all come together to create a watchable experience that shatters the mould of traditional anime with style.
The new Netflix live-action show utilized some of these elements to poor effect, was received negatively by fans, and cancelled even before the ink dried on the season one release. The comic does indeed follow the universe of the live-action show, but fortunately it makes NONE of the mistakes, and returns to its roots as a whimsical, funny serialization with expert storytelling and everything fans of the anime can look at with pride.
Writer Dan Watters (Lucifer, Assassin’s Creed) went for the jugular with his all or nothing approach to the comic’s narrative, and he blew it out of the park. The narrative is compelling, contains funny back-and-forth segments between the Bebop’s crew, and, most importantly, feels like Cowboy Bebop at its finest. Fans of the series can pick this book up and feel injected directly into an episode.
The plot sees our ‘heroes’ as painfully broke as ever and are chasing a bounty named Melville who is in possession of a vest that increases the wearer’s luck, as if the Bebop’s crew needed less. Spike seems to retain his devil-may-care attitude about everything, Jet is as no-nonsense of a captain as ever, and Faye is her usual adrenaline junkie self, which is all very faithful to their original inceptions.
“The narrative is compelling, contains funny back-and-forth segments between the Bebop’s crew, and, most importantly, feels like Cowboy Bebop at its finest.”
Watters shows mastery in bringing fan favourite Cowboy Bebop characters to life in a way a true fan of the series can. Even the bounty hunting announcement show, “Big Shot”, returns, a show that comically introduces bounty hunters to the people they’re hunting. It’s hilarious, a mainstay of the series, and a welcome addition.
Sci-Fi elements of the series are here in droves. It’s easy to believe the characters just casually took a trip to Mars to visit the Curtain Casino in Tharsis, as well as a trip to Jupiter’s moon, Cyllene. Cyllene is home to unique atmospheric conditions that make the entire populace feel drunk at all hours of the day, so much so that caring about ANYTHING has become an afterthought. A place that only exists in fiction indeed.
The art is saturated with style that breathes life into the pages of Cowboy Bebop. Not only does the narrative feel like it was pulled directly out of the anime, but the art by Lamar Mathurin also gives the world a seedier fresh look, while keeping consistent with the noir-feeling aspects of the series. At some action points, it was difficult to not hear the signature Bebop jazz almost jumping off the pages in response to explosions, or good ole fashioned combat segments.
Cowboy Bebop has absolutely everything fans love about the series, while adding the magic and depth of the anime to the Netflix live-action’s rendition. A fantastical universe, likeable characters, and action that is delivered in a stylish way gives something to fans of all comics. While the notable character, Edward, is missing in action, considering his miserable 30-second portrayal in the Netflix series, this is a huge positive for everyone involved. This is Cowboy Bebop at its finest, a well-oiled storyline that stays even after the last word is read.