Shinichirō Watanabe, the creator of Cowboy Bebop, found the Netflix adaptation hard to watch and could only endure one scene

Cowboy Bebop Creator Shinichirō Watanabe Couldn't Stomach the Netflix Adaptation Garbage, Was Only Able to Watch 1 Scene: "Made it very tough for me to continue"

In the past, anime was often considered niche entertainment, associated with a dedicated following of nerds and geeks. However, amidst the vast array of titles, one anime stood out as a crown jewel and a significant milestone upon its release in 1998: Cowboy Bebop. Despite the prevailing perception of anime at the time, Cowboy Bebop garnered widespread acclaim, particularly in the United States, owing to its groundbreaking nature and heavy inspiration from Western culture.

Recognizing the immense popularity and fervent fanbase surrounding Cowboy Bebop, streaming giant Netflix saw an opportunity to capitalize on the series’ success by producing a live-action adaptation. However, as history has shown with previous live-action adaptations, this endeavor fell victim to a familiar curse, resulting in lackluster viewership and eventual cancellation. While some viewers may argue in favor of the live-action version, their opinions are outweighed by the creator of the original anime series, who expressed his outright revulsion towards the adaptation.

The creator’s disdain towards Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop stems from his deep connection to the original anime. During the late 1990s, when shows like Star Trek and other space-faring adventures dominated popular culture, the Japanese anime industry seized the opportunity to blend the core elements of space odyssey with the cool intensity of a cowboy, giving birth to Cowboy Bebop. This anime series introduced a fresh genre, combining the magic of Japanese animation with elements borrowed from Western culture, thus appealing to a wider audience.

A poster of the original Cowboy Bebop anime

However, when Netflix decided to give the show a live-action twist, it resulted in a complete failure. The streaming giant had to cancel the series a mere three weeks after its premiere, facing disappointment from both critics and devoted fans of the original anime. To add further weight to the negative reception, even the director of the original 1998 series, Shinichiro Watanabe, expressed his dismay at Netflix’s adaptation. In an interview with Forbes, Watanabe revealed that he couldn’t bring himself to watch a single episode of the live-action version.

Watanabe’s rejection of the adaptation stemmed from a lackluster intensity in the action sequences and an unfortunate deviation from the source material. The opening scene, set in a casino, was a major turn-off for the creator, solidifying his belief that this live-action rendition could never capture the essence of Cowboy Bebop. He regretted not being involved in the project, recognizing that the value and significance of the original anime still endure, even more so in retrospect.

Netflix's live-action Cowboy Bebop

Ultimately, the live-action Cowboy Bebop adaptation’s failure to resonate with fans and audiences can be attributed to its inability to capture the heart and soul of the original series. The deviation from the source material, combined with a lack of the original’s intensity and sharp wit, left viewers disappointed and reinforced the notion that certain anime properties are best experienced in their original animated form.

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