The creator of the 1998–2000 anime series Cowboy Bebop, Shinichi Watanabe, has expressed his disappointment with Netflix’s live-action adaptation.
Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichiro Watanabe said he only saw the opening scene of the Netflix live-action adaptation and that it "was clearly not Cowboy Bebop.” https://t.co/lRlVsWBafs pic.twitter.com/AcC5BTvwOP
— IGN (@IGN) January 28, 2023
A cult following developed for the original Japanese series, Cowboy Bebop, in the late 2000s and early 2010s. The neo-noir space western ran for three volumes and a theatrical picture (2001’s Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door).
Even though the Netflix adaptation was announced in 2017 and debuted four years later, only a few members of the team responsible for the anime were involved in the production. Watanabe recently discussed this issue in an interview with Forbes, noting that it was a contributing factor to the show’s severe reception problems.
It was something like, “[Netflix] provided me a video to evaluate and check,” he added. It was quite challenging for me to keep going after the opening casino scene. As I had to make an immediate exit, I was only able to catch the first few minutes. It was immediately obvious that this was not Cowboy Bebop, and I realized that if I had not been involved, it never would have been.
Perhaps I should have done this, I thought. Despite the fact that the original anime’s worth has increased dramatically.
Watanabe’s criticism of the remade Cowboy Bebop is shared by many fans of the original. Critics and viewers of the original anime unanimously disliked it. Another victim of the “relentless churn of the streaming engine,” as NME put it in their two-star review.
The show, which featured John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, Daniella Pineda, and Alex Hassell, was canceled by Netflix barely three weeks after the first season debuted. Later, a petition to bring the show back received over 120,000 signatures, and Cho expressed his own “horror” at the show’s cancellation.
“I put a lot of my life into it,” he said at the time. “I’d gotten injured shooting that show and so I took a year off because of the surgery and devoted myself to rehab, came back, and finished the show. It was this huge mountain for me to climb, healing from that injury. I felt good about myself as a result. We also shot the show in New Zealand, so my family moved there. It was just a huge event in my life and it was suddenly over.”