WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Cowboy Bebop, now streaming on Netflix.
Vicious and Julia are two of the characters with the least amount of screen time in the original Cowboy Bebop anime despite having a huge presence throughout the story. As such, little is known about them outside of their relationship with the series protagonist, Spike Spiegel, and the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. While Vicious is a bit more fleshed out as a character in the original anime, Julia doesn't get to be something more than the object of two men's obsessions.
In the live-action adaptation by Netflix, Vicious and Julia are given more prominent roles with fleshed-out backstories. While their roles in the live-action series are still consistent with the ones they have in the original anime, they are also given developments that are a major departure from the anime. This is more notable with the character of Julia who does get to be her own character in the new series.
Like in the original anime, Vicious is still a member of the Syndicate and is driven by a desire for more power, but that's not the only thing he's driven by. He's also driven by his love for his wife Julia, whom he wants to protect from the Elders of the Syndicate. This is an interesting take on Vicious' story as it repurposes his reason for wanting more power.
Throughout the series, Vicious is looking for ways to branch out on his own, which is the reason he starts funding himself by selling a new drug known as Red Eye. He's eventually caught doing this by the Elders and he's forced to prove his loyalty by showing his willingness to murder his own wife. This disturbs Vicious who tries to plead with them by offering to let them take a finger or even an entire hand to prove his loyalty. However, the Elders know that his wife is more precious to him than his own self, which is why they asked him to kill her.
The experience of being forced to prove his loyalty is what ultimately factors into Vicious' decision to do a coup, which he starts to plan with Julia's help. This is where Julia's role in the live-action series makes a significant departure from the anime: Julia not only plans the coup with Vicious, but she takes a more active role in protecting herself from the Syndicate, which means making a few betrayals of her own.
One thing Julia never does in the live-action series is go into hiding like her anime counterpart does. Instead, Julia forms her own support system with her friend Ana, who advises to her regain control of her own life by taking power -- advice Julia takes to heart. For Julia, this means playing her own husband and gaining the alliance of two crime bosses: Mao Yenrai and The Eunuch.
Since Julia knows Vicious will eventually betray both The Eunuch and Mao in order to usurp the Syndicate thrown, she cuts a deal with Mao to murder Vicious in exchange for her gaining more power of her own. While things don't go exactly as planned, the coup is still successful and Vicious murders everyone who is in the way of Julia's goals: the Elders, The Eunuch and Mao. With all the people who threatened her eliminated, Julia fatally wounds and imprisons Vicious, and takes the Syndicate throne for herself.
All 10 episodes of Cowboy Bebop Season 1 are streaming on Netflix.
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