I have mixed feelings about the new Netflix live-action adaptation of the famous anime Cowboy Bebop. Is it bad? No. It’s definitely not as bad as all the overwhelmingly negative reviews are out there making it sound. But, if I had to recommend someone to watch the Netflix show or the original, I would still recommend watching the original.
The live-action show was a perfectly fine show to watch. It was funny, had action, and the actors were well cast for their roles. However, at times it simply felt awkward or like it was drastically under budget. The underlying problem was that this was a live-action anime. Things that work well in anime don’t work well in the real world. A pinnacle example would be with the tease of radical Edward at the very end. What is very eccentric and funny in anime come across as awkward in the live-action form.
This all begs the question:: was a live-action remake even necessary? I would have far rather had an animated remake or an animated movie over Netflix’s mediocre live-action remake. With all the advances in GCI and animation, remaking Cowboy Bebop with the same animation quality that Deamon Slayer or Jujutsu Kaisen has would be transcendent. Fight sequences could be elevated to the very next level to accompany the phenomenal music track. The anime protagonist over the top style of fighting comes across as awkward with live-action, but if you keep it animated, it retains its cohesion. The fight sequences in this case almost work well since it is almost John Wick esk. However, there are moments that totally destroy the synergy like the opening fight scene where Spike kicks a quarter and it flies like a bullet.
My last gripe is with the plot development. Opposed to the original, the remake is significantly lacking. Although Spike, Fay, and Jet have a great dynamic, something critical is missing by not including Edward earlier on.
The biggest sin that Netflix made was treating the audience like babies and explicitly showing every single detail of the past and present. In the original, Spike’s past was left mostly as a mystery and the focus was diverted towards the day-to-day life of living as a bounty hunter. The show was about living with a tragic past and just barely getting by. However, the live-action show dedicated entire episodes towards showing the past lives of Spike and Jet wherein the anime only had brief flashbacks of the past. The live-action tried to force emotions by showing us sad things, whereas the anime built emotions more subtly by letting the audience fill in the details of the past and only shows the reverberating effects that the past. As a result, the original Cowboy Bebop is far more emotionally charged than the live-action show.
The artwork in Tillie Walden’s graphic novel Are you Listening is breathtakingly beautiful. The story accomplishes a lot for the short duration of the book. The story follows two young lesbians on their journey through the countryside as they encounter weird landscapes and an interesting cat.
What a journey the manga of demon slayer has been. I first picked up the manga after watching the first season of the anime and being blown away by the animation. The manga is no different, the artwork is beautiful, and there is the same humor throughout the manga as in the anime — no shocks there.
Volume 23 gave us a conclusion to the Demon Slayer story. Which, I am glad that this story does in fact have an ending and doesn’t continue in a perpetual cycle. The ending gives us catharsis for a story as a whole. I have mixed feelings about the ending where it shows us what the ancestors of the characters’ lives are like. This gave me flashbacks to the ending of The Promised NeverlandSeason 2’s ending. Personally, I enjoy a more open-ended ending like in Full Metal Alchemist. But, this ending gives a definitive ending that is closed to any additional sequels since all the demons have been killed and show no signs of returning. But, there is enough back story and lore to have a few prequels.
For a shounen anime, the ratio of the plot to fighting is normal. However, nearly 90% of this anime feels like it is fight scenes. Not to say that is bad, but long durations of fighting in the manga are often confusing. Especially when fights are cut mid-chapter and even between manga volumes. The final battle with Muzan took 7 manga volumes! But, it was a satisfying ending overall, and I can’t wait to watch the breathtaking anime version of it done by Ufotable.
Castlevania is a great example of Netflix doing anime right. Some people might split hairs over whether this is actually “anime” or just a cartoon. Despite being inspired by anime, Castlevania is not produced in Japan but instead by an American studio. Additionally, rather than being based on a mang, Castlevania was based on a Japanese video game also called Castlevania. Regardless, the animation quality is amazing, and the action scenes are plentiful and very well choreographed. The characters were well developed, and there was just enough humor to lighten the mood when needed. Not much to say on the plot, but it does breathe a breath of fresh air into the vampire genre.
Ajin is a thrilling supernatural horror anime to watch, the story was well-paced, action-packed, and very interesting. TLDR: this is a perfect anime to binge-watch.
Although it is a very good anime, I can’t quite place it as an excellent anime. My first gripe with the anime is largely due to the 3D CG that was used throughout the show. The characters appeared odd at first, however, I got used to it by the end of the first season. Frame by frame, everything looks ok, but the movement often felt offputting– which in a weird way added to the horror/dark component of the anime.
Second, the anime was thrilling to watch and it had enough plot depth to make it interesting, but it didn’t really have a deeper meaning. Another anime that I would closely relate Ajin to is Death Note. Death Note constantly tore into a philosophical debate surrounding justice and how power changes people. The closest thing that Ajin has to that is that it explores the ways in which people are marginalized if they are different– people with Ajin people being hunted down and researched on. Again, this topic can be really interesting if done right — like in season 4 of Attack on Titan when it introduced moral ambiguity and conflicting ideals between the main characters over the use of the Titan power. The discussion around human rights in Ajin is not deeply explored and becomes a simple black and white issue that only serves to advance the plot for the main villain. By the end of season two, the human rights issue for the Ajins has been resolved in the blink of an eye, leaving season three to be merely about fighting Satou. But, this might be too critical since it is a relatively shorter anime and didn’t have enough time to fully explore any themes/philosophical things deeper.
For a Shounen protagonist, Kei is different since he is… as his sister put it: “a Jerk”. There is some plot development with Kei since he eventually learns to trust and rely on others for support. However, Kei still remains a cold and detached protagonist for the most part. It is not clear whether this is due to his upbringing in a strict family, or if it has to do with his Ajin powers. Other than Kei, the other characters are pretty straightforward for anime. The supporting characters are supporting, and the antagonist is driven by the desire to conquer the world.
This was a refreshing Isekai to watch; rather than going to a fantasy world, fantasy characters came to modern-day Japan. It was really funny and the characters had a great dynamic with one another. There was a fair amount of “fan service” but, it never degraded the anime. The biggest downside of the anime was that it was only 13 episodes and never got a second season. However, after 8 years, there is a rumored second season in production.
In short, Mob Psycho 100 is absolutely amazing, everyone should watch it. This show accomplishes a lot. The animation is simplistic yet beautiful. The story is exciting and well-paced. The characters are well-balanced, relatable, and hilarious.
Mob Psycho 100 explores what it means to live a fulfilled life through a coming of age story. In a decomposition of shounen tropes, the protagonist Mob starts out the show as an all-powerful character. Despite being all-powerful, Mob is not fulfilled. Mob recognizes that his powers can’t solve all of his problems. Rather than relying on his psychic abilities to solve all his problems, Mob seeks activities like the body improvement club to better himself. This all amplifies the message that happiness comes from hard work bringing success. In other words, natural talents can only get you so far in life.
It is common for people in this show that are blessed with psychic abilities to have a serious ego complex and believe that they are the “protagonist of the entire world.” When Mob defeated other Psychics called vespers, he often instilled the message that they are not special and reminds them of their own insignificance. Although we are each the protagonist of our own lives and responsible for our own happiness, we are all but little pieces of society in the grand scope of things.
Bo Burnham’s special Inside is a masterpiece. It holds a mirror to our society from these past few months and makes us ponder a cacophony of social and political issues? What has the pandemic done to our mental states? How has comedy changed? Is technology a force of good or evil? What does it mean to be canceled? How do people change over time?
The special gives a left-leaning point of view, but at the same time, it never feels like Burnham is trying to cajole your opinions. Inside paints a desultory picture of both social isolation during the pandemic and the vanity of the internet. Burnham manages to do all this while using comedy, a unique set, lighting, and camera angles to portray his opinions.
Inside resonates because everyone can relate to it with their own covid experiences. It gives the message that it’s okay to not be okay during these distressing times. The pandemic is coming to an end, but the transition back to routine life will not be easy.
This was a good anime. Don’t want to call it a masterpiece, but, it is definitely a solid crime thriller to watch. The Great Pretender is about a group of individuals who call themselves “confidence men”, and are essentially people who swindle the rich and corrupt to serve their own self-interests. The show is known for having elaborate schemes and only revealing the plot twist that uncovers the trick at the last minute.
The animation style is also distinctly unique. The colors are saturated and the background is filled with unrealistic shading which gives the world a beautiful dream-like feeling.
And the Mountains Echoed is yet another excellent book by Khaled Hosseini, chronicling the story of an Afghan family. As a whole, it isn’t as cohesive or moving as Hosseini’s novel The Kite Runner, but it is nonetheless a compelling story.
The book was a little confusing to follow at first since it time skips and jumps perspectives each chapter; however, the payoff for this is significant since it gave us a holistic view of the family through three generations, three continents, and seven decades. At the same time, it is hard to really resonate with one character because there are scores of characters introduced. But, it is a moving story since it illustrates the struggles of a family. At the start of the book, the story was heartwrenching because the family went through so much in Afghanistan. As the story moved to France and America, the story became heartwrenching for different reasons. The family’s struggles became more relatable to me, specifically the pain of losing a loved one to Alzheimer’s.
The meta metaphor in the book that resonated with me was: “A story is a lot like a train, it doesn’t matter where you get on, the destination is always the same”. In the book, Saboor told this to Abdullah and Pari while telling stories, but it is also true of this novel. There are a million ways to tell the story of this family; each version would focus on different characters and themes. But, at the end of the day, we are still telling the same story.