Cowboy Bebop Creator Couldn’t Bear to Watch Netflix’s Remake
Netlfix’s 2021 live-action remake of Cowboy Bebop, developed by Christopher Yost, was a disastrous flop, and there’s no room for doubt about it, as it was canceled after just one season and ten episodes.
Poor writing, riddled with bloat and pacing issues, thanks to stretching 25-minute anime episode storylines into hour-long live-action episodes. Distorted plots. Poor performances by poorly chosen actors. Bad attempts to reproduce the aesthetics of the original.
All in all, it was another addition to the growing list of failed attempts to make a live-action adaptation of a popular anime. While enthusiasm for the remake was high before its release, upon release it suffered a whopping 59% drop in viewership from its premiere to second week and never recovered.
And Shinichirō Watanabe, the director of the original Japanese anime series, clearly shares the prevailing sentiment, except his own feelings were, understandably, even stronger, as he revealed in his recent interview with Forbes.
“For Netflix’s new live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check out,” he said. “It started with a scene in a casino, which made it really hard for me to keep going. I stopped there and so only saw that opening scene.”
Watanabe went on to explain the reason for this and the reason was very simple:
“It clearly wasn’t ‘Cowboy Bebop’.”
Well, on that we can agree.
While in some aspects of its outward appearance the TV series may have tried too hard to copy the anime, the underlying plot, its overriding mood, and its messages, were all very, almost unrecognizably different. You can tell at what point the writers and the rest of the TV series’ crew mistakenly decided they couldn’t just adapt the original, but improve on it.
They were apparently surprised by the public reaction and the resulting cancellation. As John Cho (who played Spike Spiegel) said in an interview, “It’s astounding to me… It was very shocking and I was disappointed.”
At least for Watanabe there was a silver lining: “Although the value of the original anime is kind of much higher now.”
What can we say, it seems quite true.