The original Cowboy Bebop anime was a narrative in regards to the methods through which the previous haunts the current, or to cite former Kotaku author Richard Eisenbeis’ 2014 article, “the epilogue to a narrative we by no means get to see.” Whereas the viewers sees glimpses of Spike’s former life as a member of the Crimson Dragon syndicate, his love affair with Vicious’ girlfriend Julia, and his near-fatal departure from the syndicate all through the sequence, the total story of who Spike was and the way his life took such a near-fatal flip is rarely seen or defined.
Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop takes a distinct strategy. Of the various methods the live-action sequence diverges from the unique sequence, none are maybe extra dramatic or consequential than episode 9, “Blue Crow Waltz,” which presents a glimpse into Spike’s earlier life as “Fearless,” a hitman for the Syndicate, and the occasions which lead as much as his presumed loss of life by the hands of his former associate Vicious (Alex Hassel).
[Ed. note: The rest of this article contains spoilers for the ending of Cowboy Bebop.]
For Bebop showrunner André Nemec, unfurling the historical past throughout the new continuity of the sequence was pivotal. “It was a narrative that we needed to inform ourselves within the writers room, as a way to actually perceive the character of Vicious; who he’s, what he’s, and why he’s,” Nemec tells Polygon. “It felt important that we must always simply inform that story, like, that’s the basis by which we’re constructing this whole season. That is the occasion that units all the things in movement.”
Set three years earlier than the present-day occasions of Cowboy Bebop, “Blue Crow Waltz” exhibits what led to Vicious and Fearless’ fallout — specifically a bloody gang battle. What Vicious begins, Spike cleans up, and Spike’s tryst with Julia behind Vicious’ again is the ultimate fracture. However greater than merely being a narrative a few passionate feud between two males, the episode is an origin story for Julia, Spike’s former flame and a personality who was by no means totally explored within the unique anime. “Within the unique concept of the breaking of episode 9, I had at all times checked out it as Julia’s episode,” Nemec says. “I believed it was vital that the character be the architect of her personal journey, quite than a dramatic software to inform a narrative between these two guys.
“To me, it was vital that she was entire and fleshed out as an individual, however not simply as a sufferer underneath the thumb of Vicious — which is a spot that I knew we needed her at the start of this story — but additionally to offer her the company of crafting her path out […] The spirit of it undoubtedly got here from: I need to know extra about Julia. Like, who is that this Helen of Troy?”
For Elena Satine, the problem and alternative of portraying this evolution was in creating the excellence of who her character was in relation to different characters versus who she was to herself. “I approached Julia as two completely different characters, basically, there was the thought of Julia that’s perpetuated by Spike and his recollections of Julia. However then there’s the actual Julia, which within the anime, we briefly see working round with a gun capturing individuals. She’s not precisely the identical woman because the one that’s in his recollections, in order that was kind of a beginning off level for me approaching the character. And I sort of went from there and constructed on that and the gradual morphing of Julia from another person’s dream woman to this girl who’s very a lot on the finish, you understand, accountable for her personal future.”
To say that Julia within the live-action Cowboy Bebop feels fully completely different than the character glimpsed within the unique anime is an understatement. In reality, Julia wasn’t a lot of a personality a lot as she was an concept in 1995’s Cowboy Bebop. At first seen as a terrified, albeit keen, spouse to Vicious, Satine’s portrayal steadily evolves past her preliminary look, finally wresting management over the syndicate from her husband and rebuking Spike in her personal ascent to energy. After capturing Spike and imprisoning Vicious, it’s Julia who wields essentially the most energy on the finish of season 1. “I knew at the start that I needed this to be the beginning of a villain,” Nemec says. “I believed we had an unbelievable alternative to inform the story of somebody who actually is caged, who finds empowerment, and we take a look at her and we’re simply sort of like, Ooh, she’s harmful, like she’s correctly harmful — and I believe she is by the ultimate frames of season one.”
By not solely exhibiting Julia’s backstory, however reframing her arc as a sympathetic, empowered, and ruthless antagonist, Cowboy Bebop ventures into unprecedented narrative territory that the anime by no means broached. The place the Netflix sequence would possibly take her story going ahead is unknown for now, but when there’s something sure about who Julia is now versus the character within the anime, it’s this: she’s extra than simply somebody’s dream woman.