The unique Cowboy Bebop anime was a narrative concerning 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 collection, 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 method. Of the numerous methods the live-action collection diverges from the unique collection, none are maybe extra dramatic or consequential than episode 9, “Blue Crow Waltz,” which provides a glimpse into Spike’s earlier life as “Fearless,” a hitman for the Syndicate, and the occasions which lead as much as his presumed demise by the hands of his former companion 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 collection was pivotal. “It was a narrative that we needed to inform ourselves within the writers room, in an effort to actually perceive the character of Vicious; who he’s, what he’s, and why he’s,” Nemec tells Polygon. “It felt essential that we should always simply inform that story, like, that’s the basis by which we’re constructing this complete season. That is the occasion that units every thing 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 — particularly 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 all the time checked out it as Julia’s episode,” Nemec says. “I believed it was necessary that the character be the architect of her personal journey, moderately than a dramatic software to inform a narrative between these two guys.
“To me, it was necessary that she was complete and fleshed out as an individual, however not simply as a sufferer beneath the thumb of Vicious — which is a spot that I knew we wished her in the beginning of this story — but additionally to present her the company of crafting her path out […] The spirit of it positively got here from: I wish 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 totally different characters, primarily, there was the concept 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 taking pictures individuals. She’s not precisely the identical lady because the one that’s in his recollections, in order that was type of a beginning off level for me approaching the character. And I form of went from there and constructed on that and the sluggish morphing of Julia from another person’s dream lady to this lady who’s very a lot on the finish, you already know, accountable for her personal future.”
To say that Julia within the live-action Cowboy Bebop feels fully totally different than the character glimpsed within the unique anime is an understatement. In fact, 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 prepared, spouse to Vicious, Satine’s portrayal progressively evolves past her preliminary look, ultimately wresting management over the syndicate from her husband and rebuking Spike in her personal ascent to energy. After taking pictures Spike and imprisoning Vicious, it’s Julia who wields essentially the most energy on the finish of season 1. “I knew in the beginning that I wished this to be the beginning of a villain,” Nemec says. “I believed we had an unimaginable 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 form of like, Ooh, she’s harmful, like she’s correctly harmful — and I feel she is by the ultimate frames of season one.”
By not solely displaying 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 collection may 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 lady.