This is a great winter season for geeking out on live-action anime, new fantasy series and movies

I love the holiday season! Not just for the joy of family, friends, and the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, but also for the new tv series and moves that premiere this time of the year. We have movie releases (Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home) and tv series streaming (Cowboy Bebop, Hawkeye, The Wheel of Time) it is a great time to be a fantasy/sci-fi nerd.

The big issue with the remakes and adaptations is how accurate is it to the comic or book series. Take the live action Cowboy Bebop on Netflix. First and foremost, the look is incredible. Great casting and set design that is so accurate to the anime. Now, is it perfect . . . No, it’s not. They are changing how the story is presented to make it fit into the shortened Netflix series. Spike’s backstory with the Syndicate is mixed in with each episode, which suits me fine. The fighting scenes are as animated as in the anime, so is the comedy banter. It’s not as good as the original anime, but it’s still fun to watch.

On a more serious note, Robert Jordan’s epic The Wheel of Time was finally made into a tv series. It’s hard to imagine this series laid out logically as a TV series, and watching has proven that. Instead of teenagers, the five dragon candidates are young adults, and they changed how they get from their village to the White Tower. When you’re taking 14 books and putting them into a shortened series, it makes sense. It still flows good and is watchable to me. I can’t help but enjoy it because I love these books and seeing them come to life is a dream come true. It’s a lot like when Game of Thrones was brought to television. You can’t follow the exact dimensions of such a rich story, but if it remains true to the essence of the novels, then it’s worth watching.

Rosamund Pike is great as Moiraine in the series. She is commanding, fierce and dedicated to her cause. Her magic is so powerful, flowing from the one source in such a beautiful visual effect. The first battle scene against the Trolloc’s was intense. It’s great that Amazon is taking a chance on this series, and they’ve already confirmed season 2.

And now, Disney Plus is coming out with Hawkeye as part of its ongoing MCU television series. I can’t say I’m overly excited for this series. It just doesn’t excite me like Loki, Wandavision, What If, or Falcon and the Winter Soldier. I will watch it, though, because it helps set up the next set of series coming out in 2022.

Speaking of the MCU, we’ve gotten three films in less than four months. Shang-Chi and the Ten Rings was a great introduction to a new hero, and the Eternals reset the cosmic powers of the Marvel Universe. Both of these movies set up new powers and heroes in the MCU coming in the next phase. I mean, the Black Knight, Blade, and others are coming our way. Then we have Spider-Man: No Way Home which brings us into the multiverse by setting up Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. I think just bringing all the villains from the other Spider-Man movies completes the transition from the “Sony-verse” to the MCU. Plus, it brings together the Sinister Six for the first time and that is just freakin’ awesome to see!

The Spider-Man movie not only completes Tom Holland’s trilogy, but it sets up so much more. Will he finish his run as the webhead or just prepare for the New Avengers in the next phase? Maybe we’ll get to see Miles Morales for the first time in a live movie! The possibilities are there, but we’ll have to wait and see!

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Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

If you haven’t watched Cowboy Bebop yet, you should!

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You can’t mistake the look, the sound, and the story behind one of the best anime’s ever made… Cowboy Bebop! And, to my own shame (hanging my head low), I never watched it before… until now. When I heard they were making a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop, I knew I needed to watch the original. I’ve seen bits and pieces of the series, I knew the backstories of some of the characters, but I never really watched an entire episode. Now that I’ve binged on it, I wondered “WHAT THE HELL, ARE YOU STUPID? WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG?”

This is an amazing show, in more ways than one. You can’t deny the dark colors in the animation, the fluid fight scenes, great character development throughout the series, and the music. Oh my God, I love the music. It is some of the best music in anime with an infectious blues, jazz beat that you just can’t stop. This anime combines sci-fi and gangster genres with a western flare better than any “spaghetti western” or “space opera” could.

Set in the year 2071, the series follows the bounty hunters of the spaceship Bebop as they travel the solar system, catching crooks for cash, as it were. The crew are Spike Spiegel, an exiled former hitman of the criminal Red Dragon Syndicate, and his partner Jet Black, a former ISSP (Inter Solar System Police) officer. They are joined by Faye Valentine, an amnesiac con artist; Edward Wong, an eccentric girl skilled in hacking; and Ein, a genetically-engineered Pembroke Welsh Corgi with human-like intelligence.

Beyond the various stories of the crew and the criminals they hunt down, the main story arc of the series focuses on Spike and his deadly rivalry with Vicious, an ambitious criminal affiliated with the Red Dragon Syndicate. It is this story line that takes us through the entire series, and what makes it so interesting. The relationship these two had as former partners in the syndicate, the woman they both loved, and the fight that ensues between them.

To me, this is a great “starter” series for those new to anime. It brings in the “fantasy” element you expect from anime, but still has the gritty realism of a drama series. That’s what makes Cowboy Bebop so great. That realism brings you into this dark, futuristic world where the vices of today still plague society. It really hits you right from Episode 1 (or sessions as they’re known) when the targets being chased down by Spike head into a police blockade. The woman kills her psycho boyfriend, then herself, instead of falling into police custody. The blood spatter over the inside of the cockpit of their spaceship really hits it home.

Cowboy Bebop is the penultimate of what an anime should be. It’s funny, romantic, action-packed, and more. This anime makes you want to see more. It’s a shame they ended it after 26 episodes. The live action series will be an interesting take on the anime. It has been reported that John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda and Alex Hassell have all been cast in lead roles as Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine and Vicious respectfully. Unlike other “live-action” versions of animes, there is hope that this version will be faithful to the series. We can only hope.

But that doesn’t matter. Don’t waste time like I did. WATCH THIS SERIES NOW! It’s worth the weekend binge, I guarantee it!



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.