It’s no secret that Netflix is very fond of anime in all its forms. The streaming service has become home to the new Ghost in the Shell, Godzilla and Spriggan, and its library includes, for example, The Seven Deadly Sins (which the online cinema has completely taken over) and The Shaman King … And Netflix, in collaboration with leading studios, including Japanese ones, is actively releasing original films and TV series, including with the involvement of its numerous IPs like The Witcher or Super Thieves based on the comics by Mark Millar. And in general, if we put aside the blatant and unforgivable abuse of computer graphics, the result can be called quite decent.
But this is not enough for the platform, because Netflix also took on the adaptation of manga and anime with live actors. What, however, are his competitors doing. By and large, such projects based on books and other things should be divided into two categories, say, adaptation and adaptation. If in the first case the source material undergoes minimal changes with the preservation of the essence and spirit (remember “The Lord of the Rings”, “Doctor of Sleep” or “It”), then in the second one gets a more or less independent story based on motives – a new reading. It is to the second category that Adam Wingard’s Death Note (The Blair Witch, Godzilla vs. Kong) belongs. With constant comparison with manga and anime, the picture causes dissonance, and even without it it remains only a mediocre streaming tape, but quite suitable for a single viewing on TV.
The film turned out to be weak on all counts, and it’s not even about, forgive Cthulhu, a black L or a global reshaping of history and characters, but Netflix is still developing a sequel, albeit sluggishly. Writer Greg Russo (Mortal Kombat) even promised to get back to basics and bring back the atmosphere of the original. But the service approached its version of “Cowboy Bebop” on a much larger scale. The result, I would call ambiguous, not to mention the reaction of critics and fans of the original, often quite justified. It is worth starting with two theses: firstly, the anime Watanabe Shinichirow and Sunrise are overestimated, and secondly, some fans go too far in their admiration and see the depth of the work where it does not exist.
One gets the feeling that two opposing factions were working on the series, and this is noticeable in many aspects. However, let’s take it in order. John Cho (“Star Trek”), who, due to his broken leg at the very beginning of filming, delayed the premiere for at least six months, is quite good for himself in the image of Spike Spiegel and clearly does not look at his fifty dollars. There are no complaints about Mustafa Shakir (“Luke Cage”) – you didn’t think that a dude named Black would be allowed to play white? Ein is good, with Ed a little too much, but it’s hard to judge by one scene, Julia performed by our Elena Satine (Twin Peaks, Gifted) came out mediocre. But Danielle Pineda (“Jurassic World: The Fallen Kingdom”) on Faye Valentine is clearly not pulling, and Vicious is replaying – not without reason in “Boys” he was given the role of Transparent.
But the problem is a little deeper than the selection of actors, because the characters themselves are spelled out differently. This is especially noticeable in the case of Fay and Julia. How much is left of Fay’s insolent scoundrel, a real splinter? Likewise with the plot: many moves migrated from the anime with more or less large-scale adjustments, sometimes in a different chronological order, but the accents have changed, as has the narrative as a whole. They saved something with the expectation of a continuation, from other, at first glance insignificant, things the authors of the show deliberately refused. Let’s say Ein and Fay’s topics are not covered. The story became more linear and gloomy, while the vacant space was filled with sex, debauchery and questionable dialogues with often mediocre, and sometimes even vulgar jokes so characteristic of the West.
The production is lame in places, although in general it was filmed quite beautifully, the lack of budget is not striking, and the combat scenes and action are quite on the level. For “Cowboy Bebop” is characterized by an interesting and attractive contrast between science fiction with spaceships and the entourage of the planets of the solar system in the spirit of the last century – this is perfectly conveyed in the show, there are no complaints about the designers. Netflix has added a bunch of anime references, some scenes are recreated almost frame by frame, and yet their essence is not always accurately conveyed. However, everyone has their own vision and understanding. The intro, footage with episode titles and phrases like “See you, space cowboy”, a soundtrack from the original composer Kanno Yoko and Seatbelts – all this is in stark contrast to the dubious gag.
For reference: with the participation of Watanabe developed the series Andre Nemec (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “Beverly Hills Cop IV”), the script was written by Christopher Yost (“Thor: Ragnarok”, “The Mandalorian”), Sean Cummings (“The Last Ship” ), Vivien Leigh (Lost in Space), Liz Sagal (Charmed, Sons of Anarchy), Karl Taro Greenfield (Ray Donovan), Javier Grillo-Marcois (Charmed, Lost) and Jennifer M. Johnson (Lost, Alcatraz), while Alex Garcia Lopez (Daredevil, The Witcher) and Michael Cattleman (Smallville, The Last Ship) shared the director’s chair. The fans expected “Firefly” from them, but got …
But this time, the streaming leader managed to very neatly enter all kinds of tolerance, because it is not striking and, what is already there, it looks quite appropriate: black Jet, Fay-lesbian and trance on the sidelines. If we abstract from constant comparisons with anime, then the show is quite nothing for one time, even if it does not reach the “Boys”, “The Witcher” (which is dragged solo on the mighty shoulders of Henry Cavill) or almost films based on “Star Wars” and comics Marvel for Disney +. Well, so … it’s more like “Cowboy Bebop” from Through the Looking Glass, a parody and banter. Suitable for those who do not like anime. Adapting Death Note and Cowboy Bebop is not so difficult, if we talk about the essence of the material – it is quite typical mysticism and sci-fi. But now, putting aside the history of bounty hunters, Tomorrow Studios is aiming at something much more non-standard – One Piece.
The pirate epic of Oda Eiichirow has millions of fans around the world, and its duration (manga has exceeded a thousand chapters, while anime – for a thousand episodes) simply does not allow us to talk about a time-lapse or so film adaptation. However, the main problem will be the visuals – even Netflix will not be able to (or, more precisely, will not want to invest so much money) such a level of special effects, because the story of the Straw Hat Pirates will have to be brought closer to reality, from which it can lose its charm and really turn into fanfic with cosplayers. The Witcher looks good, but, say, in The Legacy of Jupiter, the online cinema has severely limited superhero color music in order to save money. Will Netflix manage to achieve digestible graphics?
To answer this question you will have to be patient and wait for the debut trailer, the show will see the light of day not earlier than in a year. So far, the script is ready and the caste is presented, selected with the blessing of Oda and with an eye to the international. And at first glance, everything is quite nothing: no famous actors were brought in, although Makenyu (Roronoa Zoro) is known at home, in Japan, at least for the recent film “Tramp Kenshin: The End”, and viewers could see Emily Rudd (Nami) in ” Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams and Fear Street. Fortunately, Luffy was also lucky – the Mexican Inaki Godoy cannot boast of much experience, but he does have something like that. Stephen Maeda (The X-Files, Lost) and Matt Owens (Agents of SHIELD, Luke Cage) are responsible for the script.
Difficulties may arise with graphics, costumes and make-up, but in terms of the plot, the cult Senen will still be simpler, so at this stage the project has a certain potential. And if successful, fans are waiting for “Santa Barbara” about the future king of pirates with an ending in the second half of the century (this, if you’re lucky). Although it is not a fact that even the failure of One Piece will cool the ardor of the online cinema – the general hate does not prevent from gaining views. Three years ago, Netflix got its hands on a live action game based on Sword Art Online, with a ready-made script authored by Laerta Kalogridis (“Alexander”, “Isle of the Damned”, “Terminator: Genesis”, “Alita: Battle Angel”). The production should be taken over by Skydance, known for the latest films in the Terminator, Star Trek and Mission: Impossible franchises and other films with Tom Cruise.
The parties have already worked together on Altered Carbon, and Skydance has the recent Foundation and Stein’s Gate in the plans. This is where the visual nuances will surely arise, although you need to understand that SAO is Kirito’s story, and therefore a lot will depend on the leading actor. Remember all the same “The Witcher”, how everything would have turned out without Cavill? The original plan, by the way, involves Asian actors. It’s just that anime characters are often Japanese in essence, but rather Europeans in terms of appearance, and this must be taken into account. A very interesting project, only, alas, stalled.
While Netflix hasn’t really made the otaku happy, but Cowboy Bebop is still a step forward when compared to Death Note. And it will be possible to make the final diagnosis of the streaming service just after the premiere of One Piece.
PS Netflix has one more series that is worth mentioning in the context of this material, although Avatar: The Last Airbender is not an anime. Everything is pretty funny here: on the one hand, Albert Kim (“Sleepy Hollow”, “Nikita”) is pushing for loyalty to the cult primary source, without any agenda and tolerance, on the other hand, the creators of the original Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko left the project early stage due to creative discord and lack of freedom. Will Netflix follow in the footsteps of M. Night Shyamalan, or will the story of Dark Beginnings repeat itself?
The series will be staged by Michael Goi (Swamp Thing, Newbie) and Jabbar Raisani (Lost in Space), and will have to spend money on computer graphics, but the caste led by Gordon Cormier (Lost in Space, Confrontation ) and Daniel Dae Kim (Lost, Hawaii 5.0) is by no means hopeless. Anime is still a more specific thing, and everyone loves Aang’s story, so he will fly in for the adaptation in which case, in full.
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