It is thrilling that new viewers are ready to be taken aback by Spike Spiegel and the Bebop crew as Netflix is soon bringing live-action adaptation of the legendary space-western anime Cowboy Bebop, starring John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, Alex Hassell, and Elena Satine. The series has stood the best of time after 24 whole years.
Cowboy Bebop, on one hand, romanticizes the dreams, adventure, and prospects of the vast cosmos with bounty hunters drifting and sailing across satellites and societies undergoing bold missions to make ends meet while on the other it is a kaleidoscope of references, philosophies, narratives, and forms.
At the center is the protagonist, Spike Spiegel portrays how the past and the future aren’t as far away from each other as we think. He has his faults, his charm, and his human-like personality; there is something for everyone to love Spike. At one point he is as unpredictable as Bruce Lee while at the other gets outmatched by some certain opponent. He resembles a ronin, masterless samurai, wandering around, taking lucrative jobs to make ends meet but of course with Bushido (The Samurai code of honor).
His comedic persona and mysterious past make the audience drawn to him but his deep understanding of the struggles of being a human is the most crucial thing that makes Spike relatable. You don’t need to be a part of a crime syndicate or be a bounty hunter to relate to Spike all you have to do is have experienced human conditions, his humanity. Hence, several inspirations can be drawn from this character but the one that outshines each one of them is Bruce Lee’s inspired outlook.
In one of the very first scenes of Cowboy Bebop, Spike is practicing Jeet Kune Do (Hybrid Martial Arts) which radiates the mindset of having no particular style at all. He is formless, shapeless like water, and spontaneous. He expresses himself in ways that others might find unconventional, he just goes with the flow and this is not only evident in his fights but his lifestyle as well. Spike says, “Whatever happens, happens.” And he sticks to this as he can find his way out in the most impossible situations.
He doesn’t like to be contained rather wants to be free, he’s not trying to play the hero, his motives are survival. His confidence intermingles with his apathy creating someone you really wouldn’t want to rely on at all but at the very least you can trust him to take care of himself.
As for Spike’s crewmates: Jet, Faye, Ed not to forget the villains too, they have their own faults and bruises from the past. Cowboy Bebop is an amalgamation of sci-fi, western, a little of ronin action, and noir. On the surface, it might look attractive all thanks to its super-fluid fight scenes with the insane soundtrack but on the deeper level, it radiates depression, solitude, and bittersweet catharsis.
Watch Cowboy Bebop on Netflix!