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From the original show to this one, the character of Gren – played by non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park – has always been divisive, but they admit that since their casting was announced, the reaction has been "intense".
Speaking exclusively to Digital Spy, Park noted that people have a "really polarising views of things that they love being adapted into any other format", so they understand the reaction.
"The fan response is very intense. With anything, it feels like a very mixed bag. People have really polarising views of things that they love being adapted into any other format, which I completely understand. As a fan of many big franchises, I understand the bond that you create as an audience member with the story, and with the original context as you watch it.
"Particularly where there were tonnes of people who were so excited by it, and who had remembered watching the anime when they were younger, hearing the line, 'I am both at once, and neither one' that Gren says in the anime.
"They felt very affirmed and seen – albeit, Gren's situation in the anime, contextually, is obviously rooted in an unfortunate event; it's rooted in trauma. But Gren has found comfort and stability and normalcy in their situation when we meet them, within the show."
On one hand, there's a character with who some viewers can really identify in terms of gender, but on the other, that opens up a huge conversation on the other side with fans who can't identify with Gren in that way due to the character's non-binary identity.
Park explained: "A lot of fans, I think, really understand the nuance of that, and were very excited to see how we were going to take that a step further. And then there's obviously a lot of people – especially people who are not queer, or who are not trans – who don't have a lot of experience with kind of identity, that are arguing the semantics of the thing.
"They're sort of being like, "Well, Gren is this, and Gren is that. [laughs] Gren can't be non-binary. Gren's not trans."
The actor noted that they understand where the fans are coming from as many of them don't have the experience with gender in anything other than a "cut-and-dry way", so it can be tricky to navigate.
"I understand where that camp might be coming from as well, especially if they don't have a lot of experience first-hand with the nuances of gender. If they're looking at it in a very cut-and-dry way, it's easy to feel like, 'Gren's not this, Gren is this.'
"And you really do have to have some kind of experience with dysmorphia or gender confusion and gender playfulness to, I think, understand the original concept of the character and where Gren is now headed."
Cowboy Bebop can be streamed on Netflix.
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