Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop can’t ruin Vicious because Vicious sucks, actually

Because Netflix’s expose of the Cowboy Bebop opening titles last month, fans of the initial sci-fi anime appear polarized in their viewpoint in the lead-up to the best of the upcoming live-action adjustment. Reception is divided in between those who believe the series appears like an amusing, fresh take on a cherished anime classic, and those who believe it appears like a cloyingly self-aware fan video — albeit one with an undoubtedly substantial spending plan.

These criticisms have actually been directed at whatever from the modifying of the trailers, the appearance of stars John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda in their outfits, to even the look of supporting characters like Vicious, Spike Spiegel’s bane, played by Alex Hassell (Suburbicon). And to be sincere, he does look outrageous. Take a look at the male. He appears like a visitor judge on Iron Chef who’s about to expose the secret component. He appears like Lurch from The Addams Household cosplaying as Alucard from Castlevania. He appears like a Spirit Halloween knock-off outfit of Rhaegar Targaryen.

Alex Hassell as Vicious in Cowboy Bebop (2021)

Image: Geoffrey Short/Netflix

That isn’t always the developers of the Netflix program getting it incorrect. In truth, I would presume regarding argue that Alex Hassell’s take on Vicious is right in line with the character from the 1998 series. It’s difficult for Netflix’s live-action adjustment of Cowboy Bebop to “ruin” Vicious due to the fact that, honestly, the character of Vicious in Cowboy Bebop was currently dreadful to start with.

Cowboy Bebop developer Shinichirō Watanabe initially presents Vicious utilizing quiet flashbacks and context ideas in the 5th episode, “Ballad of Fallen Angels.” He’s a high-ranking member of the Red Dragon distribute, a criminal company to which Spike formerly belonged prior to he ended up being a fugitive hunter. Vicious and Spike were previous partners and buddies when they were more youthful, both mentored by a senior Red Dragon member called Mao Yenrai. A rift formed in between the set when Spike fell in love with Julia, Vicious’ sweetheart at the time.

In “Jupiter Jazz Part 1 & 2,” it’s exposed that eventually in Vicious’ life, likely after Spike left the Red Dragon distribute and fabricated his own death, he functioned as a soldier in a war on the moon of Titan along with Gren, a previous pal whom he implicated of functioning as a spy and affirmed versus in military court. Vicious is a vicious, cold, savage, and unambiguously “vicious” male (it’s even his name!) who desires power and will stop at absolutely nothing to get it. Likewise, he wields a katana and has a huge crane-like bird for an animal that’s filled with dynamites. Which’s about it.

Vicious and Spike with sword and pistol drawn in Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Image: Dawn

Vicious is the main foil to Spike and the closest thing the series needs to a significant repeating character, apart from the core cast of Spike, Faye, Jet, and Ed. He appears in an overall of 5 out of the series’ 26 episodes. Regardless of this, he’s more an unclear antagonistic existence than a character himself. His discussion consists nearly completely of terse, threatening quips like, “When Angels are thrown out from Heaven, they become Devils,” or, “Cloud climates do not concern me.” He’s a one-note anime villain with no noticeable arc or inspiration aside from being an asshole. In contrast to Spike, a likeable and complex lead character with depths of character and subtlety, Vicious simply fades in contrast. He totals up to a character who’s specifically cool to 13-year-olds.

So I’m not stating I never ever believed Vicious was cool back when I enjoyed the series throughout its initial Grownup Swim run. And there are probably way edgier and more very finely identified anime bad guys than Vicious — simply take a look at Raditz from Dragon Ball Z, or Shogo Makishima from Psycho-Pass. All I’m simply stating is that it’s been a long time considering that I was 13. I’ve pertained to anticipate more now when it pertains to characterization in the anime that I see.

For instance, there’s Mereum, the primary villain of Hunter x Hunter’s Chimera Ant arc, who’s probably more callous and violent than Vicious ever was; his development throughout the arc discovers the audience understanding and even having compassion with him as he has a hard time to fix up the human and half-insect elements of his own nature. My Hero Academic Community’s Tomura Shigaraki basically starts the series as the lackey apprentice of All May’s bane All For One prior to slowly turning into a powerful and shrewd enemy himself. Even Complete Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood’s Dad has his own arc as the previous dwarf homunculus, an animal incapable of carrying out alchemy himself, desires Godhood in his dogged mission for outright understanding and self-empowerment. Vicious fades in contrast to these examples for the easy truth that he has no noticeable arc or goal that specify his objectives counter to Spike’s, apart from the easy desire for power for its own sake.

Vicious scowling in Cowboy Bebop (1998)

Image: Sunrise/Hulu

For a series as dynamic and initial as Cowboy Bebop, which riffs off of numerous significantly various categories like sci-fi, noir, and Westerns in the production of its own vibrant cast of characters and universe, Vicious is a disappointingly flat sadboy nihilist with a tendency for perching himself on narrow ledges and simply typically being a creep. If anything, the outfit style for Alex Hassell’s live-action representation of Vicious is a dead-on representation of this. Also, with over two decades of time separating the production of the original anime and Netflix’s live-action adaptation, there’s more than enough room to improve upon Spike’s nemesis.

Speaking to Polygon, Cowboy Bebop showrunner André Nemec said that developing the story of John Cho’s representation of Spike also meant fleshing out his relationship with Julia, played by Elena Satine of The Gifted. Nemec describes Julia as “more of an idea than a character” in the initial anime, a description that might be utilized to explain Vicious too. Whether the exact same level of attention will be paid to Vicious will end up being clear when Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop premieres this fall.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.