When the Netflix live-action adaptation of the anime classic, ‘Cowboy Bebop,‘ was announced, one question loomed large: how would Faye Valentine, known for her daringly skimpy attire, be adapted to the real world? As we got our first look at Faye, played by Daniella Pineda, it became evident that her original outfit had undergone significant alterations.
In the anime, Faye’s attire consisted of a plunging crop top, short shorts, a loosely worn jacket, and ankle boots — a minimalistic ensemble she employed to disarm her opponents. This outfit not only reflected her persona but also became an integral part of her character. Her striking purple hair and non-functional suspenders were bold statements of her fearless nature.
However, the Netflix adaptation takes a decidedly more modest approach. Faye’s crop top has grown in size, her shorts extend further down her legs, and her jacket is worn properly. The ankle boots are replaced with thigh-highs, and she is seen wearing tights underneath.
Controversy Surrounding The Wardrobe Change
This change in Faye’s attire has sparked considerable debate among fans and critics alike. Some argue that these modifications fail to honor the original character, as her revealing outfits were a crucial element of her personality. They contend that the outfit transformation undermines Faye’s freedom of expression and personal agency.
Conversely, the Netflix team has defended their decision, citing practical and creative reasons for the shift. Speaking to Insider, Jane Holland, the costume designer for the show, said she was determined to avoid over-sexualizing Faye’s character in the live-action version:
“I feel like it’s a respectful rendition of the anime. I do have to say, as a woman, I felt resistant to the idea of the lead female character being gratuitous or overtly sexualized. It’s not about it not being revealing; it’s not about any of that; it’s actually got all of those elements. But my take on it is that it’s designed by a woman, and it was made by a lot of women, and it’s worn by a woman. So the same elements are there, but they have just manifested in a different way.“
While acknowledging the presence of the original outfit’s key elements, she explained that they are manifested differently in the adaptation. Pineda’s costume was also designed with physical demands and varied filming conditions in mind:
“It’s definitely aesthetically driven, but there’s a practical element as well. There’s a lot of action. We filmed over a long period of time through different seasons. We had a lot of night shifts in Oakland, so Jet and Spike were fine because they had practical, much more practical clothing in the anime. [Pineda] needed that as well.”
Anime Vs. Live-Action: A New Faye Valentine
The controversy extends beyond the realms of anime and live-action adaptations, touching upon larger societal issues. The reaction to Faye’s revised attire mirrors how society often polices women’s clothing choices. By altering Faye’s outfit, some argue that the show indirectly implies that women dressed in revealing clothes are seeking attention or approval.
This controversy can also be seen in other recent media debates, such as the de-sexualization of Lola Bunny in ‘Space Jam 2.’ Like Faye Valentine, Lola Bunny’s character was significantly less sexualized in the sequel, which also led to substantial backlash.
Even with her altered outfit, Faye Valentine remains a complex character beloved by many. Her defining qualities — her audacity, her wit, her strength — are more than just her clothes. While her new attire may not match her original ‘skimpy’ outfits, it is just one facet of a much larger, multifaceted character.