There is no doubt that adapting Cowboy Bebop was always going to be a difficult undertaking. The anime was first released in 1998, The story was a sci-fi noir surrounding bounty hunter Spike Spiegel as he tried to forget the traumas of his past. Since the announcement of the live-action series, there have been many reservations about the content. John Cho voiced concern over bringing his character to life. Cho is a beloved actor from many properties, but fans may have noticed that the actor is significantly older than his anime counterpart. Alternately, fans were relieved to hear that modified Welsh Corgi Ein would be played by a set of real dogs instead of computer-generated. But the most hotly contested change to Cowboy Bebop is its female lead, Faye Valentine.
Faye was depicted in the original anime as a clever amnesiac who made a living by conning others. It is unclear if the live-action adaptation will stay true to her character. But fans have noted that her costume is significantly different. Cowboy Bebop’s female character is remembered for her revealing outfits that veer to the impractical side. Costume designer Jane Holland has defended the live-action costume choices after audience backlash followed the release of set photos of Daniella Pineda as Faye. Pineda wears jackets and tall boots, a departure from Faye’s shorts and sexualized attire. Though this may seem just a simple update to a more progressive look at gender in Hollywood, not all fans took it that way. Some fans considered this change sacrilegious.
You can see Faye Valentine in the anime below.
For comparison, here is the Cowboy Bebop’s female character in live-action.
It may have been difficult to find an actress that would stay truthful to Cowboy Bebop’s depiction of this female character. Actress Daniella Pineda took to social media to make this point. She used humor to combat fans who were unsupportive of her casting. She pointed out that it would be impossible for Cowboy Bebop’s creative forces to find a body type that fit the anime. Hollywood’s beauty standards are impossible to live up to. Pineda’s response is only natural. Updating how a character is dressed does not automatically destroy how they will be portrayed. Though it does raise some concern over the creative team’s interpretation of the material.
While costume designer Jane Holland is defensive of her choices with the Cowboy Bebop female character’s wardrobe, she added something else of interest. “Holland admitted during her interview with Insider that she was ignorant about how much fans cared about the live-action reboot before signing on to the show,” Insider remarked. It may trouble viewers that an adaptation that meant so much to fans may not be taken seriously. One can only hope that the Aeon Flux adaptation will stay true to its anime roots.
Cowboy Bebop does not only have controversy over the females in the show. In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, it has become glaringly obvious that the show will not be a straight adaptation. Faye Valentine is only one aspect that has been changed. Integral character Gren has also been updated for the Netflix show. The article claimed that it would be keeping the soul intact for adaptation. But remarks from the showrunner may make this difficult to believe. “I never wanted Cowboy Bebop to be a picture of a dystopian future,” says showrunner Andre Nemec. “I wanted it to be nostalgic, but also hopeful. People, I believe, always find their ground, and a way to excel — to live in a better world.”
It sounds as though the outfits for Cowboy Bebop’s female character aren’t the only changes to the live-action series. Gren’s story in the original anime revolves around vengeance. Originally influenced by film noir, the original anime did not entertain themes such as nostalgia and hopefulness. Film noir is notably about the moral grey areas of humanity. Nemec’s comments seem to be in direct contrast to the source material. Despite everything, the actors seem confident that fans will appreciate this new version. That remains to be seen when Cowboy Bebop hits Netflix on November 19th.