Warning! The following contains spoilers for Cowboy Bebopthe anime and season 1 of Netflix‘s live-action series. Read at your own risk!
by netflix Cowboy Bebop is here, and as many familiar with the original anime know, it’s very different. The bones of what made the original series great are there, but the live-action adaptation isn’t all about creating a replica of the acclaimed anime. Changes are made throughout the series, but none are as important as those made to Julia.
Julia is a big part of Spike Spiegel’s arc in the original Cowboy Bebop, but her actual screen time in the series is incredibly short. Netflix’s version changes that and makes Julia a major face from the start, and I think it enhances the anime by making her more than fodder for a tragic ending. I don’t like the way the anime uses Julia, but after seeing everything she did in season 1 of the live-action adaptation, I’m confident to say that her character arc is improving by compared to the anime.
Julia’s perspective is invaluable to the story
The original Cowboy Bebop is told mainly through the spike point of view, Faye, and Jet, which can create a pretty limiting view in some areas. Spike’s main goal is to find and save Julia, so all we really know about her comes from her memories and her perspective. It’s pretty limited in scope in terms of telling what feels like a complex dynamic between Vicious, Spike, and Julia.
by netflix Cowboy Bebop changes things a lot, so I think it’s hard to say if Julia’s perspective improves on the anime’s source material. That said, seeing the relationship from Julia’s perspective makes the plot of the relationship as a whole less one-dimensional in the live-action than in the anime. It’s important to see that, mainly because we know that in real life situations, someone cheating on their lover isn’t always such a straightforward situation.
Julia feels more like an active participant in the Netflix plot Cowboy Bebop, and as different as it makes the series, I think it’s important to see. I don’t think a casual audience would tolerate an entire season of Spike’s yearning for a woman, and neither should they. As a fan, I enjoyed seeing the complex dynamic of how Spike and Vicious were separated by Julia and why Julia ultimately stayed with Vicious. That might not be true for the anime, but given that the anime gives us so little about the relationship, there isn’t a ton to compare.
Julia’s season 1 arc guarantees more original storylines in a potential season 2
The real beauty of Netflix Cowboy Bebop, in my opinion, is how fearless he is to stray from the anime. The root of who these characters are is still there, but different situations allow more storylines to unfold. However, few changes are as big as what happens in the Season 1 finale, in which we see Vicious’s master plan to take control of the Syndicate fail because Julia overtook him.
This twist is pretty crazy for this anime fan, but when given the chance to go and escape with Spike (which was the anime Julia’s wish), she declines! Julia then pulls a spike out of the cathedral window and consolidates her fate as the only senior in the union. It’s quite shocking to see, especially considering the stakes created for a potential Season 2.
What exactly does a rejected Spike Spiegel do now that the woman he loved almost killed him? Is he chasing her and trying to bring her to justice? Maybe he’s just trying to keep working as a bounty hunter, hoping to avoid confrontation but inevitably encountering her again because of their professions. I mean, a bounty hunter can only last that long before they meet someone affiliated with the Syndicate, so it would only be a matter of time before they meet again.
Also, let’s not forget that Vicious is still alive and being held captive by Julia. Truth be told, I think keeping Vicious alive is the worst decision Julia made in any show, minus the fact that she got involved with him in the first place. But, I have a good feeling he’ll find a way out of his shackles before too long, and we might see a brief collaboration between Vicious and Spike to bring down the woman who broke their hearts.
Honestly, I can’t even imagine this happening because of the dynamics of Vicious and Spike in the anime, which makes it so exciting. None of this happens without Julia’s transformation, so it’s hard for me not to see it as an improvement over the source material.
The Netflix version of Julia is more in line with most of the characters in the anime
One of the amazing things about the Cowboy Bebop anime in 2021 is that it doesn’t seem out of place with modern programming. The characters are diverse, the show is progressive and there is no shortage of strong women who are total badasses. In fact, most women in the anime are awesome, Julia being the exception.
Julia is a victim in the anime, and in all fairness, her arc in Netflix Cowboy Bebop starts out pretty much the same way. The difference is, we see Julia evolving throughout her time with Vicious and even realizing that she doesn’t need Spike to be the one to save her from a life of abuse and fear. At the end of Season 1, Julia isn’t the damsel in distress that anime fans met at the end of the series, and that’s a good thing.
by netflix Cowboy Bebop elevates Julia’s character to the level of other strong women in the original like Faye, VT, and really, Radical Ed (that we only saw a little in the live-action). Watching season 1 of the live action made me realize how out of place Julia was in the anime and how much better it is to see her character performed in this adaptation. Not everyone will be a fan of it, but those looking for new stories and fresh content rather than a carbon copy from the original should be thrilled with what the Netflix series did to Julia.
The public can stream season 1 of Cowboy Bebop on netflix at present. As a fan of the original, I can’t express how much I love the new release and what it brings, so hopefully those who haven’t watched yet decide to give it a few episodes.