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Netflix shares stylish mini-episode of Cowboy Bebop ahead of show's debut

Commentary: The live-action take on the famous anime series packs some serious style, and we have a new teaser ahead of the Nov. 19 release.

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Spike, Jet, and Faye get ready for their next gig.

Netflix

One of Netflix's most anticipated shows of 2021 is Cowboy Bebop, the first live-action adaptation of the seminal and well-loved anime series from the late '90s. So far, the buzz has been positive following the recent reveal of opening credits for the Netflix series, which re-create the original Tank! introduction from the anime. Still, there's a fair bit of skepticism surrounding Netflix's attempt at reimagining Cowboy Bebop. 

Fortunately, Netflix has just released a mini-episode ahead of the show's debut on Nov. 19, and it gives us our first look at the incredibly stylized action while also showing the crew of dysfunctional space-traveling bounty hunters in their element. The show's Twitter also revealed that we'll get the first trailer in one week.

Titled the Lost Session, the short episode sees Spike Spiegel (John Cho), Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) and Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir) chase down a runaway target while bickering about how best to complete the job. This special session (the original series' name for episodes) effectively captures the fast, slick style of the original. Also, it was fun to see the chemistry between the cast for the first time. So far, they're doing great, nailing the banter and bickering the characters often had.

This mini-episode was directed by Greg Jardin, who has previously worked on other Netflix shows such as When They See Us, Away, and the upcoming Colin Kaepernick biopic series Colin in Black and White. While this episode's bite-size story is a new take, there are still several callbacks to the original. Along with a tease of Spike's nemesis and the series' main antagonist Vicious (played by Alex Hassell), we also get to hear a quick interlude with the song Green Bird, featured in the original show's most iconic episode, Ballad for Fallen Angels. The short episode closes out with our first look at the crew's starship, the Bebop, in space.

One thing that was surprising to see was the snappy pacing and flow of the action. This show is thankfully not a grounded approach to the original Cowboy Bebop, which always had the tempo and flow of a Hong Kong action film choreographed to a rocking jazz band's beat. It certainly looks faithful in that regard, though in some cases, it might be a bit too similar to the original show, which will invite tricky comparisons. 

I'm certainly intrigued with what I've seen so far. Live-action adaptations of anime and manga tend to fare far better than most live-action video games, but there's still a bit of skepticism surrounding Cowboy Bebop. And considering the legacy this live-action show has to live up to, it's not hard to see why. The creator of the original anime/manga, Shinichiro Watanabe, is serving as a consultant on the series, and original composer Yoko Kanno has returned to score the show as well. So there's some legacy talent backing this revival of the show.

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So far, it looks like the show maintains a solid balance of faithful adaptation with thoughtful reinterpretation for what made the anime so fun and exciting. As a big admirer of the original, I'm definitely down to see how this version reinterprets the show for a new medium, but I'm hoping the series won't go too far trying to bask in the original show's glory.

The live-action adaptation for Cowboy Bebop will premiere on Netflix on Nov. 19, with the entire 10-episode season available to binge.