Cowboy Bebop’s director has some thoughts about Netflix’s series

Nobody seems to want to talk about Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop series since it premiered back in November 2021 and was subsequently canceled the following month — least of all Netflix, by all appearances. The only person who seems to want to forget the series more is none other than the director of the original Cowboy Bebop himself.

In an interview published on Forbes on Thursday, Shinichirō Watanabe, known for his prolific career as a director on such anime as Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, and Carole & Tuesday, spoke at length about the milestones of his career, from his early years working at Sunrise (now Bandai Namco Filmworks) under his mentor Ryōsuke Takahashi (Blue Gender) and the origins of Cowboy Bebop, to the lessons he learned from Æon Flux creator Peter Chung while working on 2003’s The Animatrix.

Naturally, the conversation turned to his thoughts about Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, of which Watanabe is credited as an associate producer and consultant. And boy, he did not mince words. “For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check,” Watanabe told Forbes. “It started with a scene in a casino, which made it very tough for me to continue. I stopped there and […] only saw that opening scene.

Watanabe goes on to elaborate on how he felt the live-action series compared to the original 1998 anime. “It was clearly not Cowboy Bebop and I realized at that point that if I wasn’t involved, it would not be Cowboy Bebop. I felt that maybe I should have done this. Although the value of the original anime is somehow far higher now.”

Ouch! Well, if it’s any consolation for Watanabe, Cowboy Bebop is far from the first beloved, idiosyncratic animated series to receive a well meaning live-action adaptation that missed the mark. One can only hope that Netflix’s upcoming live-action One Piece series can take the lessons learned from the live-action Cowboy Bebop in stride, and deliver a series worthy of Eiichiro Oda’s iconic manga.

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