Netflix’s Live-Action ‘Cowboy Bebop’ Is ‘Expansion’ of Anime Canon, Not ‘Exact Same Meal’

Netflix's "Cowboy Bepop" showrunner says it "would have been disappointing" to make a straightforward remake.
John Cho in Netflix's "Cowboy Bebop"
John Cho in "Cowboy Bebop"

“Cowboy Bebop” purists should know now that Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the classic anime won’t be a beat-for-beat remake. In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Netflix showrunner André Nemec stressed that his live-action “Cowboy Bebop” is an “expansion to the canon” that will “add things” to the anime’s mythos and not be a straightforward adaptation.

“I promise we will never take the original anime away from the purists. It will always exist out there,” Nemec said. “But I’m very excited about the stories that we’re telling. I believe we’ve done a really nice job of not violating the canon in any direction but merely offering some extra glimpses into the world that was already created.”

Nemec continued, “We got under the skin of who the live-action characters were going to be. I think that the poetic nature of the anime absolutely allowed for us to mine the archetypal nature of the characters and dig out deeper histories that we wanted to explore — and answer some of the questions that the anime leaves you with. I think to just redo the anime will leave an audience hungry for something that they already saw. The anime did an amazing job. We don’t need to serve the exact same meal. I think it would have been disappointing if we did.”

Netflix’s “Cowboy Bepop” already made one significant change in casting John Cho in the lead role of Spike Spiegel. Spike is a 27-year-old bounty hunter in the “Cowboy Bebop” anime. Cho turned 49 years old this summer. While the age difference has already sparked some backlash online, Cho isn’t paying significant attention to it.

“The biggest fear that I had was I was too old. I knew people were gonna have issues with my age. And I had to get over it,” Cho told Vulture earlier this year about accepting the role. “I’m not a person who says age is just a number or whatever. It was gonna be harder — physically. And I was gonna look different than a 25-year-old guy. At some point, the opportunity is ‘Yes or no — do you wanna do it?’ And I did wanna do it. So I wasn’t gonna stop myself from doing it.”

“Cowboy Bebop” debuts its 10-episode first season on Netflix on November 19.

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