Cowboy Bebop Cowboy Bebop

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Netflix Cowboy Bebop: Odd remix to the original’s jazz

Might give fans of the anime the real folk blues

Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

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The work, which becomes a new genre itself, will be called… COWBOY BEBOP.” 

The line above is an excerpt taken from the text we see flying around in the opening sequence of the original animé. It’s a sort of manifesto to the intentions of the show — a new genre itself. The animé, which first aired in Japan in 1998, more than lived up to this. Netflix’s live adaptation certainly tries its best, but what it ultimately achieves is an okay cover of a masterpiece.

Before we proceed, we think it’s only right to put a big fat SPOILER WARNING here. While we won’t go into specific details, some parts of this review/reaction to the series might contain mild spoilers. You have been warned.

Cowboy Funk

If you’ve been keeping an eye on Netflix Cowboy Bebop, you’ve likely seen the teasers and trailers they’ve put up thus far. These sample tastes don’t veer too far from the overall feel of the entire series. It’s colorful, campy, and full of energy.

For the most part, the production got a few things right. We can’t really comment much on the editing since we were told some final touches were still being applied. Essentially, the screeners we got aren’t the final cut. But it was supposedly good enough to be shared with reviewers.

There was plenty of care and attention to detail put in the overall set and costume design. It does, somewhat, capture the world of Cowboy Bebop… just in a different lens.

Some of the fight choreography felt clunky but we’re gonna chalk that up to this not being the final cut. Most other physically demanding scenes looked great. There were just a few that we felt needed more polish.

Overall, the show feels zany but not in the same way that the Cowboy Bebop animé was. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s different, but somehow the live action just lacks the grit of the original. Instead, it feels like a mashup of the 1960s Batman starring Adam West and Saban’s many Super Sentai adaptations, only a tad bloodier.

Jupiter Jazz

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL in COWBOY BEPOP Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

What’s holding this together is the brilliant performance of John Cho as Spike Spiegel. He nails down the character to a T and is what pretty much carries a bulk of the show. He is nonchalant and carefree on most days, but is worked up every time his past hovers around him. Exactly the Spike we know and love.

Other than that, it’s his banter with Jet Black (Mustafa Shakur) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) that give the live action adaptation any semblance of the animé. The scenes featuring these characters together are easily the best parts of the show.

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) DANIELLA PINEDA as FAYE VALENTINE, JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL and MUSTAFA SHAKIR as JET BLACK on the set of COWBOY BEPOP Cr. NICOLA DOVE/NETFLIX © 2021

They did make changes to the characters. Changes are generally okay, if they work. However, we can’t say that’s true here. For Jet, the key change was okay. But how it will affect his character and the show was telegraphed at best and predictable at worst.

My Funny Valentine

COWBOY BEBOP (L to R) DANIELLA PINEDA as FAYE VALENTINE in COWBOY BEBOP Cr. GEOFFREY SHORT/NETFLIX © 2021

Meanwhile for Faye… it’s hard to nail it down. To get it out of the way, I thought the costume change was fine and practical. No issues there. But part of what makes Faye Valentine a femme fatale felt lacking.

Daniella Pineda perfectly captures the character’s rough edges. It’s the silkier side that was missing, and this isn’t because she’s not built like the Faye in the animé. Faye, despite learning to be rugged, still maintained a certain air of sex appeal that was simply missing in the live action adaption.

Of course, yours truly writes this being fully aware that he is a straight man commenting on how a female character should appear sexy. Faye is, for better or worse, a heavily sexualized character in the animé and perhaps they wanted to tone it down. However, maybe there could have been a way to execute it without completely shying away from the matter.

On the flip side, this version of Faye could be empowering to women. This writer is personally still unlearning the many trappings of the patriarchal society we live in and is excited to listen to conversations about the character.

Brain Scratch

To mixed effects, we see more of Vicious (Alex Hassell) and Julia (Elena Satine) here than in the animé. For one, it does a generally good job of providing a bit of backstory to the two key figures in Spike’s past. However in doing so, they start to feel less like the characters in the animé.

Instead of simply fleshing them out, what came across on screen seemed like alternate universe versions of the characters. For Vicious, this is especially true in the early to middle part of the series. Where animé Vicious felt ruthless and menacing, the live action Vicious felt a lot more whiny and unhinged.

Julia will be polarizing. The arc her character goes through is fascinating in that she goes from a simple love interest — a damsel in distress if you will — to a woman acting out of her own agency. But the choices she makes towards the end of the series felt unnatural for her character.

The Real Folk Blues

COWBOY BEPOP (L to R) JOHN CHO as SPIKE SPIEGEL on the set of COWBOY BEPOP Cr. NICOLA DOVE/NETFLIX © 2021

In a media availability, the main cast talked about how much those who worked on the show revered the original. That’s certainly evident in the production design, dialogue, and selected episodes of the live action adaptation. There’s plenty of near one-to-one recreation of scenes in the animé that will make any fan gasp with excitement.

However, in their desire to expand, the showrunners miss some story beats, subtle moments, and character nuances that make the original animé great. Instead of the smooth soulful Jazz feel of the original, what we get instead is an odd remix that may be a little off key.

Cowboy Bebop streams on Netflix on November 19.

Entertainment

Stranger Things 4: 4 Big Things To Expect

Every Ending Has Its New Beginning, Indeed

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Writing this specific article makes me remember my early days in GadgetMatch where I wrote two special articles about Stranger Things 3 — especially because I’m the biggest fan in the team (been a fan since Season 1).

After almost three years of (patiently) waiting, we’ll finally be able to watch Stranger Things 4 on our screens again!

Special Screening in Cinema 11

Seven days before the actual release of Stranger Things 4: Volume 1, Netflix Philippines invited us for a special screening of its first episode — right at Power Planet Mall’s last cinema booth, Cinema 11 (y’know, Eleven 🥁).

Wear anything “retro”, they say

The littlest set details outside the cinema made me cherish the good ol’ days of the First Season of Stranger Things from 2016. From those bright neon lights, a retro-styled photobooth, and ST4-branded popcorn box, soda cup. Even the “swag set” full of ST4 goodies that imitated the look of the spooky creel house, This also reminded me of how the series (as well as the fanbase) expanded entirely until it became a hit globally.

A single photobooth access plus a single swag set for that single Stranger Things fan, please

Although I went there all by myself, I still enjoyed every bit of the screening. To best describe everything, here’s my Instagram Reel roundup of it:

4 big things to expect

After watching the first episode of Stranger Things 4: Volume 1 for about an hour and fifteen minutes, there are four things I think we should expect in the series.

1. Out with the old, in with the new?

After the devastating phenomenon that happened in Hawkins last season, several characters have moved into a new town. The Byers, together with El(even) in mind. That also means Will and El have to deal with a new set of people in a seemingly unfamiliar environment.

Other characters have remained in the OG town, though. From the Wheelers, SinclairsDustin, Joe, Robin, and even Max, they have continued with their lives despite being stuck in the same ol’ town. And oh, as the gang turned from kids to teens, do expect some dramatic changes in the way they act — especially after what happened.

P.S: There’s a new school club, too, that’s hilariously fun and cool despite its degrading image to the eyes of many.

2. Familiar and unfamiliar faces

Other than the remaining original cast from Season 1, a new season also means expecting new characters on the block. Apart from new schoolmates, there are also people that might help the initial set of kiddos who have saved Will from the darker underworld a.k.a the Upside Down.

The first few minutes of the episode was also revealed through Stranger Things’ YouTube channel showing how the Hawkins Laboratory had more than 11 Eleven-like superchildren that are being tested and experimented — until everything fell apart because of one superchild that ruined how things work inside the lab.

3. Jim isn’t dead

Jim Hopper’s sudden disappearance after the closing of the Upside Down had a lot of fans shaking their heads. Most (including myself) have speculated that he already died. Well, we can’t afford losing one more main character after the death of Bob from Season 2. Plus, Billy and Alexei just last season.

Fortunately, Jim, in his new haircut, appeared on the official trailer of Stranger Things 4. And just as shown in the first episode of the first volume, his presence can be felt — just from another side of the planet.

4. Another monster to kill

The Demogorgon and Mind Flayer are two of the most wicked supervillains ever existed. Whether that may be in the history of Hawkins or just in the eyes of people.

But the two evil creatures aren’t the end of the gang’s fate. A new town means there’s a new monster, too.

As shown at the end of the official trailer, the new horrendous creature is in human form. It can manipulate the mind of the affected individual — even the dimension where s/he’s at. While I won’t be specific about what happened, it sure is a powerful, demonic creature. It can truly make someone disturbingly psychotic and literally broken inside and out.

Biggest season ever with super-sized episodes

After watching the first episode of the first volume, I can say it was a rollercoaster ride of emotions. First it was thrilling, then it became a full-on comedy show. Next thing you know, you’re already mindf*cked with what’s happening. I always say this but still, hands-down to the team behind Stranger Things for making the fourth season more exciting to watch (despite being borderline creepy and horrifying).

Image by GadgetMatch

The First Volume of Stranger Things Season 4 will be released only on Netflix on May 27, 2022 (Friday) with seven episodes. Most episodes are reported to be as long as a full-length film.

On the other hand, Volume 2 with a whopping total of nine episodes will be released after two months: exactly July 1st — just four days before the independence of the United States of America.

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Netflix is losing a lot of long-term subscribers

People are switching

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The Netflix revolution was indeed televised. However, after enjoying years of success as the streaming platform of choice, a lot of users are now leaving Netflix for greener pastures. Over the past few months, the company has struggled to patch its failures. A recently released data report does confirm that the platform has a right to worry. More and more long-term subscribers are reportedly cutting their subscriptions short.

According to The Information, around 13 percent of Netflix cancelers in the past quarter are from accounts that have been with the platform for over three years. The data, which was reportedly obtained from Antenna, pegs cancelations at around 3.6 million Americans, a big increase from the 2.5 million of the past five quarters.

Though 13 percent isn’t exactly a giant figure, it’s still a blow to Netflix’s empire. While streaming platform rightly focus on gaining new subscribers, losing the loyalty of long-term users isn’t something to shrug off.

Since announcing lost expectations, Netflix announced ways to save on costs and retain its subscribers. Other methods include canceling projects, opening a games division, and potentially charging users more for account sharing. Naturally, not every plan hits users the same way.

In the meantime, other platforms — like Disney+, HBO, and Hulu — are attracting more users with more varied and exclusive content. Regardless, Netflix is skidding down a slope. Only time will tell whether its latest strategies will stave off more losses.

SEE ALSO: Netflix is experimenting with livestreaming content

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Entertainment

Netflix is experimenting with livestreaming content

For reality shows and comedy specials

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Netflix is in a bit of a rough patch. After losing subscribers for the first time, the platform is trying other strategies to retain its userbase including more stringent ways to police password sharing. This time, Netflix is trying a more additive approach. According to a report, the company is experimenting with livestreaming content.

First reported by Deadline, the company is currently in the early stages of creating such content. More specifically, Netflix will try the format for its catalog of “unscripted shows and stand-up specials.” There is no timetable for the experiment’s launch, but the company hopes to launch it soon.

A move towards livestreaming does make sense with Netflix’s current catalog of titles. Over the years, the platform has slowly curated an expansive lineup of reality shows and stand-up comedy specials. For example, Netflix’s Drive to Survive quickly became one of its biggest titles in reality television, bringing a lot of eyes to Formula One racing. Likewise, the platform has always been a stronghold for comedy specials since the advent of its popularity.

Besides its strong slate of content, the company has also experimented with user input including shows that mimicked Choose Your Own Adventure books. Under a livestreaming format, the audience might be able to provide input for the title as well, such as voting for (or against) contestants in a game show.

That said, it’s still too early to tell how livestreaming might appear on Netflix. For now, at least.

SEE ALSO: Netflix considers cheaper, ad-supported subscription

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