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Shinichiro Watanabe Couldn’t Watch Netflix’s Live-Action ‘Cowboy Bebop’: It Was ‘Tough to Continue’

"It was clearly not 'Cowboy Bebop' and I realized at that point that if I wasn’t involved, it would not be 'Cowboy Bebop.'"

John Cho in Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop"

John Cho in “Cowboy Bebop”


Right after 3, 2, 1, Shinichiro Watanabe couldn’t go anymore.

The “Cowboy Bebop” anime creator revealed that the Netflix live-action adaptation of the noir series was “tough” to watch. Starring John Cho, the short-lived series was canceled by the streamer three weeks after its premiere in November 2021.

“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 so only saw that opening scene. It was clearly not ‘Cowboy Bebop’ and I realized at that point that if I wasn’t involved, it would not be ‘Cowboy Bebop.'”

He added, “I felt that maybe I should have done this. Although the value of the original anime is somehow far higher now.”

Billed as not a remake, the series garnered poor reviews.

“Once you have a successful title, you receive a lot of requests to make something similar and in this case, something like ‘Cowboy Bebop,'” Watanabe said of his career. “I have received these kinds of requests for more than 20 years. I understand the reasoning behind these requests, but if I went down that road I would end up doing the same thing over and over again. Ultimately, people would then get tired and lose interest in my work. I also feel I have more variety to offer within myself. With that in mind, I have avoided trying to do similar things.”

“Cowboy Bebop” star Cho addressed the shared fandom of the 1990s anime series that debuted stateside in 2001 and the live-action remake.

“I was very warmed by the response [to the show]. I wish I could have contacted everybody and gotten hugs,” Cho said, adding of the cancellation, “I’m mystified a little bit about how you can connect with people that you don’t know doing your work, but I won’t question it. I will value it and treasure it. I’m just really deeply appreciative that anyone would care. It’s stunning to me…It was very shocking and I was bummed.”

Soon after the December 2021 cancellation, more than 145,000 fans signed a petition to bring “Cowboy Bebop” back for a second season. But the show’s limited fanbase wasn’t enough to convince Netflix to reverse its decision.

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