Netflix turned heads in August when it unveiled the live-action adaptation of beloved anime Cowboy Bebop. Fan opinion was split, with some nervous that the network’s previous anime adaptations haven’t hit the mark (hi, Death Note) and others tentatively pleased with the accurate costumes.
Sadly, it’s looking like those naysayers were right to be pessimistic. The show premieres tomorrow, and it’s currently sitting at 42% on the Tomatometer after 38 reviews. The consensus seems to be that all the ingredients for a good time are there, but they don’t gel together satisfyingly.
Sherin Nicole of Geek Girl Riot describes it as “like a robot playing jazz. All the notes are there, more or less, but they’re not played with feeling”, Roxana Hadidi of New York Magazine says it’s “an imbalanced mixture of successful innovations and tedious experiments”, and Brian Tallerico concludes that the show “loses any sense of inventive creativity in a failed attempt at fidelity to the source.”
Disappointing stuff. It should be pointed out that many critics enjoyed it, though even the positive reviews come with reservations. A common thread is that the core ensemble does eventually win the audience over, though it takes until the final episodes of the season.
I’ll still be tuning in to see it for myself, but right now I’m dialing my expectations right back. Perhaps the best we can hope for at this point is that Netflix recognizes that it’s got potential and gives them a chance of a second season, especially if the critics are right that it eventually finds its footing.
Cowboy Bebop premieres on Netflix on November 19.