Since dropping the first official trailer in late September, Netflix has tweeted a few side-by-side comparisons of Cowboy Bebop, showing how the upcoming live-action adaptation compares to the original anime series. One takeaway of mine? It looks promising. The other takeaway? It really needs some color.
Take, for instance, this scene below. From the anime’s ninth episode, “Jamming With Edward,” the titular ship, the Bebop, lands on a body of water on Earth. What the anime depicts is a vibrant mass of blue as the industrial brown of the ship breaks the water’s gorgeous surface, creating a cascade of striking waves. The live-action adaptation has a similar scene, but everything is brown: the ship, the water, the buildings in the background, even the sky! The whole thing looks flat, lacking the anime’s eye-catching color palette.
This isn’t the only drab-looking scene either. The Cowboy Bebop Twitter account shared a couple more comparison clips that further highlight just how colorless the live-action adaptation appears to be. But the one that strikes me is the one below from the fifth episode, “Ballad of Fallen Angels.” It sees Spike Spiegel and major antagonist Vicious fighting in a church, their figures illuminated by a big, beautiful stained glass window behind them. What’s actually an evocative scene due to the religious iconography and shot composition is rendered rather emotionless, again because of the flat colors.
I’m not the only one who thinks the live-action adaptation needs color. Copious replies to the side-by-side comparisons are from series fans wondering just what the hell happened to all the colors, not just the blue. Some have even taken it upon themselves to “color correct” parts of these clips.
It remains to be seen whether the live-action series will strike the original anime’s familiar vibe, but the colors I’m seeing don’t instill too much confidence insofar as how the thing looks. And that’s important for Cowboy Bebop—it was a looker, with a rich color palette and impressive visuals for the late ‘90s. We’ll see when the 10-episode series hits Netflix on November 19.