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Episode 2 Stray Dog Strut of the original Cowboy Bebop anime was defined by the insane, Warner Brothers inspired[1], chase sequence featuring Ein, Spike, Hakim, and a bunch of clueless researchers[2].


How do you replicate, in live action, a sequence that could really only work with the anime visual conventions to support it?

Fortunately, the creators of Dog Star Swing knew better than to try. Instead they set out to better establish what sort of show this iteration is going to be. They succeeded with a strong episode that leans harder on drama than on comedy[3].

I mentioned last week that the Vicious storyline was clearly going to be a bigger fraction of the live-action version, and speculated that this is at least in part to the rising expectations of viewers over the last 20 odd years for grand story arcs.

This manifests in a couple of ways in Dog Star Swing, and the intersection of these works really well to create the story for this episode. First, Spike needs to stay in Tharsis City to get information on Vicious but isn’t ready to tell Jet about why yet. So, hunting Hakim’s[4] bounty is the method he picks to keep Jet[5] in the city.

Meanwhile, Jet is desperately trying to come up with a particular present for his young daughter who he will finally get to see again soon and so he agrees to hunt Hakim’s bounty. I imagine that this is one aspect of the new show that the anime diehards[6] have idiotically been complaining about.

The thing is though… I think Jet needed this to round out his character. I’ve just finished rewatching the anime and frankly he didn’t have a lot of depth there. In terms of backstory in the anime, the order from most to least interesting was Faye[7], Spike, and Jet.

Jet’s daughter Kimmie, and the efforts Jet makes in order to be as much of a father to her as he can, really adds that needed depth, and also supports the comedy elements that Dog Star Swing does have (and which I won’t be spoiling).

In terms of the rest of the story, generally solid with some darker elements that are going to be a recurring pattern in this iteration I think.

Overall I liked Dog Star Swing. It was, frankly, a relief that they didn’t try to replicate the Stray Dog Strut chase scene, and the continuing development of the Vicious storyline worked well. The differing motivations for Jet and Spike also strengthened the episode, especially when it led to them working well together as a team despite the secrets between them.

[1] I do also suspect a fair bit of influence from the Dirty Pair episode Pursuit Has the Smell of Cheesecake and Death.

[2] The music for that sequence was a perfect track called Bad Dog, No Biscuit! that was really jumping.

[3] There is a fair bit of comedy in Dog Star Swing, but it’s not the main point.

[4] Hakim is reimagined into a both a much darker, and much sadder character here, it works well.

[5] And, by extension the Bebop.

[6] Which is rather politer than I usually am about that lot. Especially the ones complaining that Daniella Pineda is a real woman rather than having the anime boobies of the original.

[7] I am hoping that they kept Faye’s story and will do it justice.