“Venus Pop” takes a departure from the original by exploring the Teddy Bomber, who doesn’t appear until shortly before the final episodes of the anime. Well, he’s a bit sidelined in this story, as it primarily is continuing the story set-up in the past episodes. Spike gets attacked by an assassin and it sets him out on a small side story to make sure that his past doesn’t catch up with him. Jet, on the other hand, is trying his best to get a bounty to buy his daughter a present, who is also a new addition. So, for most of the episode, our duo is on their own stories.
In my opinion, it wasn’t the best idea to separate them this early on. Their banter and dynamic give the series some energy, but we take a detour so early that it kind of downplays the highlight of the original series. It was all about their dynamic early on so their splitting on adventures had a stronger impact. Once again we’re focusing more on world-building than character development, which is something carried over from the first episode. It adds to the fact that it’s a show that fell in love with Spike’s backstory and wanted to flesh it out more.
Speaking of, this episode gives u our first real change from the original, as Vicious is married to Julia and both are given quite a bit of screentime. In the original, they are a non-factor until the ending, as Julia is famously described as a distant dream. This episode purposely changes the core storyline with some familiar aspects to ease fans into the fact that this show is not following the original closely. Vicious is much more complex yet not as intimidating as he was in the original. He was a mystery and that’s why he was scary.
Here, he’s a bit more of a coward and that’s a hard pill to swallow, but does give him some more agency within the story. We even get hints about the inner workings of the Syndicate, and I did love the touch of the anime’s version of the Elders being masks. That was quite a nice visual touch. Still, while great for developing our antagonists, this does come at cost of the actual main characters we spend the most time with. It’s probably why the show feels like it doesn’t quite capture the original, as its focus is completely different.
Still, we do get some great character moments even if it is closer to the end. When they reunite, their banter was a highlight in the episode. Cho and Shakir play off of each other quite nicely. They even carried over the joke surrounding the Teddy Bomber by playing on his insecurities was quite fun. Though, it does feel like them being bounty hunters is more of an afterthought at times. The show is still trying to find its legs but this departure from the original offer new opportunities moving forward.