Ahead of its release to Netflix Friday, some preliminary reviews for the live-action adaption of beloved spacefaring anime series Cowboy Bebop are finally coming to light, giving fans of the series the first glimpse of whether the streaming service can redeem itself from lackluster live-action anime adaptions of the past.
Though review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes’ score of the show may be subject to change once the series gets officially released and more critics view it, it seems the first round of reviews so far are unfortunately largely negative. Taken from 17 reviews, the Tomatometer score on the site is currently “Rotten” at 47%, as of press time.
The show stars John Cho as protagonist and bounty hunter Spike Spiegel, with Daniella Pineda and Mustafa Shakir rounding out the central trio as Faye Valentine and Jet Black, respectively. The show will also feature a veritable rogue’s gallery that will be familiar to fans of the anime, though some with slight variations, such as Asimov Solensan, Maria Mudock, Abdul Hakim, Teddy Bomber, and Pierrot Le Fou.
The critical reception so far will no doubt be a disappointment for fans, some of whom were no doubt hopeful the show may stay true to its source material, as showrunner André Nemec has publicly expressed in the past. Original anime director Shinichiro Watanabe was also involved as a consultant, as well as Yoko Kanno also returning as composer.
Though there’s no critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes as of yet, due to too few reviews, and no audience score due to the show not being released yet, only eight of the 17 reviews were positive overall. Only one out of the eight top critics’ reviews was positive.
Empire Magazine’s Kambole Campbell remarked the show comes across as “a just okay cover version, and for the most part an out-of-tune rendition of the greatest hits” of the anime, rather than a fun remix.
Slant Magazine’s Steven Scaife remarked the live-action adaption “feels more cartoonish than the anime that spawned it.”
However, Rolling Stone’s Alan Sepinwall gave the show a positive review, saying it “very much feels like a project with anime roots” and that it is “a lot of fun.”
You can decide for yourself if Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop is worth your time when the series drops on the streaming service on Friday.