Last week, Netflix revealed what the cast of the upcoming live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation looks like in costume. Unfortunately, the overwhelmingly positive reaction has been met with an all too predictable response from the worst members of anime fandom.
Every few months, an all-too-loud subset of ‘fans’ calling the internet home seem to be confronted for the first time with the self-realization that anime is not real, the latest reminder being brought on by the casting choice for Bebop’s femme fatale, Faye Valentine.
Anime, Cosplay, and Faye
Daniella Pineda, the real woman cast as Faye, responded to initial criticisms of her casting on Instagram last week, sarcastically summing up the fantastical women fans seemingly expected to take the role. “Six-foot, double-D sized breasts, two-inch waist. They looked everywhere for that woman and they couldn’t find her. It’s kinda weird, so they just went with my short ass.” Shockingly, no anime women seem to have auditioned for the part of Faye Valentine in Cowboy Bebop’s adaptation.
The conversation was reignited again recently, as persistent fans turned their disappointment to the show’s costume design. One Twitter user, whose post became the fulcrum for this most recent discourse, posted a comparison of Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine next to a photo of a Faye cosplay.
The photo on the right, dubbed, “a girl with 100 dollars”, infers that Netflix’s version is inferior despite an exponentially higher budget. The latter does indeed wear a costume that looks more like Faye’s outfit from the 90s anime, but it’s hard to believe the gripe over authenticity is sincere.
Fashion is an extension of our bodies, and what’s most evident in the comparison is how bodies are displayed for a viewer’s consumption. In the photo used for comparison, both Pineda’s gaze and body are aimed away from the camera. She’s ready to pull the trigger on her pistol, and I feel like this might be important. She isn’t showing any skin below her neck. While girl with 100 dollars’ head is turned away from the camera, her body faces forward, posing to show off her outfit and silhouette to viewers.
But there’s more, still, that belies the misogyny of these criticisms. For instance, the labor and cost of cosplay are leveled by the poster. Her wig alone may cost well over $100, and the professional photoshoot definitely did. The cosplayer also has a name. The picture actually belongs to Russian cosplayer ShadeCramer, and she has even more stunning photos of her Faye cosplay up on DeviantArt.
She’s also aware of the way she is being used in these conversations.
In replies beneath the original tweet, ShadeCramer states she did not consent to the use of her photos in the comparison.
All this makes it clear that the ideals of anime women fans like @Angry_Crow24 have come at the expense of actual, real-life women. And while there is certainly a discussion to be had about the importance of Faye’s fashion in Cowboy Bebop, that needs to come after understanding that most human bodies do not look like the idealized, fetishized, cisheteronormatively beautiful bodies created with pencils and computers for a screen.
Crazy, I know.