I said, what I said. The Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop was better than the anime. And this is coming from someone who loves the anime. Seriously, it was my introduction to the genre alongside Sailor Moon and Tenchi Muyo! And it stuck with me for my entire life and set the standard for anime in general. And nothing has lived up to it. Not until this moment.
The Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop hits the beats necessary to draw you in, in a manner that the anime never did until I was episodes in. And before you go, “Oh, that doesn’t make you a real fan!” or “How dare you?” I don’t regret it. And it does make sense. Shows have to hit certain beats to get you hooked. And for the live-action series, I was hooked from the start.
Making us care for the characters is the main beat that differentiates the anime from the live-action series. It did not take me long to go ride or die for Spike, Jet, and Faye. Even Ein I would sacrifice my life for. And the TV series managed to do this by exploring their bonds and making them family first and foremost. Sure, they were friends and partners. But the family part made it for me.
Then there’s the pacing of it all. The anime takes its time introducing key parts of the story and it’s only when you rewatch that you really get everything. Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop made it so the key storylines essential were introduced from the very start without leaving us scratching our heads and waiting for episodes upon episodes to understand what’s important and what’s not.
Combining making the team more than just a team and giving us hits of the important story bits early on is at the heart of why I think this version of Cowboy Bebop ends up being superior to the anime. That’s not to say that I don’t love the OG version of this property. I do and will always love it. But Netflix did an amazing job at taking something well known and making it their own.
That is another reason why I enjoyed this take on Cowboy Bebop so much. They didn’t try to do everything just like the anime. They honored the original, gave its flowers, and then went on their own journey to creating a universe that stands apart and will entice new fans into checking out the anime. And for me, that’s a win all around.
Cowboy Bebop is available on Netflix now.