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Netflix Needs to Keep the Smoking in Their Live-Action Adaptation of Cowboy Bebop

Updated on July 9, 2019
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Natalie is a writer who works at her local library. She enjoys writing reviews, watching anime and TV shows, and playing videogames.

Spike won't be the same if he doesn't smoke his cigarettes.
Spike won't be the same if he doesn't smoke his cigarettes. | Source

With Netflix’s Smoking Ban on shows Rated TV-14, Spike Might Not Be Able to Smoke His Iconic Cigarettes

Anyone who has watched the Japanese anime Cowboy Bebop knows that the main character Spike Spiegel smokes cigarettes on a regular basis in the anime. One of the scenes I remember about him is that he swallowed his cigarette when he was told there was no smoking in a building he was walking into.

People are worried about the casting choices for actors, but with Netflix’s ban on portraying smoking in shows rated TV-14 and below, I’m more worried they’ll ruin Spike Spiegel if he isn’t allowed to have one of his well-known character traits from the anime.

If Cowboy Bebops live-action TV series doesn’t get an MA rating, they will neuter Spike Spiegel if he doesn’t smoke. It’s not going to be taken well by fans like me if Spike ends up being nothing like he is in the anime, but if they take away his cigs, I will be legitimately angry.

I don’t Smoke Myself But This is Part of his Character

I don’t smoke cigarettes myself, but Japan doesn’t have problems putting smoking in their anime. They tend to use the Smoking is Cool trope quite often in anime. I do hope the producers of this TV series stick to letting Spike smoke, this is part of his character, it’s one of his defining traits.

Heck, Faye Valentine and Jet Black smoke too! In the very first episode of Cowboy Bebop, Spike is seen dropping an unlit cigarette! Spike smokes in the anime opening and the plume of smoke is part of the opening’s aesthetic!

Smoking is a character trait of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine, so I am hoping that for the sake of correct characterization that the Netflix adaptation will be rated TV-MA just so they don’t neuter all the characters to virtue signal that smoking is bad!

Newcomers Will be Confused if They Change to Smoking

When the Netflix adaptation of Cowboy Bebop comes out, if they try to keep the TV-14 rating by removing the smoking, and people go back to the original anime and start complaining about the smoking in the anime, I want to clarify that the anime came out in 1998 so the characters have always been smokers before the Netflix adaptation came out.

I’m hoping that the producers will be willing to keep correct characterization rather than try to appeal to the “mass audience”. The smoking needs to stay In this live-action adaptation.

An Iconic scene of Spike Smoking

Netflix Hasn’t Done Well with Live-Action Anime Adaptations

Netflix hasn’t had a great track record with live-action anime adaptations. I’m referring to the live-action movie adaptation of the popular anime Death Note. Fans didn’t like the movie at all.

While the Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist live-action movies are made in Japan they are still Netflix exclusive movies. Some fans love them or hate them but they are not made directly by Netflix.

The Cowboy Bebop live-action series is being made by Netflix. If they mess this up, it’ll be more annoying than what they did with the Death Note adaptation.

I don’t have high hopes for the live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, but if they cut out the smoking, it will just make it worse for them and it won’t help the adaptation if they mess up this aspect of the Netflix adaptation.

Netflix Needs to Respect the Source Material; This is One of the Most Influential Anime In the Last 20 Years

Cowboy Bebop is an anime series beloved by many anime fans for two decades. It is something that means a lot to the fandom because it has been the introduction of anime to many fans in the early 90s, before the advent of easy, legal access to anime on the internet.

Cowboy Bebop is also an anime that means a lot to many fans. It’s one of my favorite anime titles and I’ve watched it multiple times. I’ll be very disappointed if the Netflix adaptation turns out badly. I will be nitpicky because I want the Netflix adaptation to get people to watch the anime, and while it probably won’t be a perfect adaptation, there are some things they really need to do the best they can: A great cast, people are complaining that Jet Black is being played by a black actor, but that doesn’t bother me as long as he’s a great actor. They need to have a fantastic music soundtrack, and it needs to retain the smoking, as it’s an iconic part of the anime.

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Spike Spiegel smoking.
Spike Spiegel smoking. | Source

This Series Does Need the TV-MA Rating

I do hope that the Cowboy Bebop Netflix live-action series will be decent. Given Netflix’s track record with live-action anime adaptations they have produced, however, I’m not optimistic.

My greatest hope is that the directors and writers actually care about the source material and that they won’t make too many changes because I am a critic and I will rip this adaptation to shreds if it’s done badly.

The Cowboy Bebop anime is one of my favorites and it’s a favorite of many fans, and the Netflix adaptation has to live up to all our expectations of respecting the source material and being genuinely good.

As someone who loves Cowboy Bebop, I don’t have high hopes because I expect to be disappointed, but I will be happy to give the Netflix series a shot, even if it’s purely out of morbid curiosity.

I do wish the cast and crew good luck with this project, especially since fans like myself will be very critical of it, I do hope they cater to fans and don’t go overboard with changing too much.

I do hope they keep the characterization the same and have all the main leads smoke because if they change this, they’ll change something else and if you change too much you’ll anger fans.

If the Cowboy bebop live-action series turns out well, fans of the anime will give it a recommendation, and this is the audience you want to give a high recommendation of your series too since we’re fans of the original source material.

If you can get Cowboy Bebop’s massive fanbase behind the Netflix adaptation then we’ll happily recommend it to other people. I’m cautiously optimistic for the Netflix series, but I’ll have to see a trailer before I can say this adaptation is going to be great.

But please, whatever you do Netflix; keep the characters in-character by having them smoke cigarettes!

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