Streaming giant’s U.S.-produced remake of the anime classic is seen be many as trying to improve on perfection.

Earlier this week, Netflix put a huge smile on the face of anime fans when it announced that this spring it’ll be streaming the Evangelion TV series, which has been out of print in English-speaking territories for close to a decade. Now, just one day later, it’s spreading the word that it’ll be streaming Cowboy Bebop too.

However, Netflix won’t be showing the 1998 Shinichiro Watanabe-directed anime TV series, nor its associated 2001 animated theatrical feature. Instead, the streaming service will be serving as the home to an all-new, American-produced, live-action Cowboy Bebop series.

This actually isn’t the first time we’ve heard of the live-action BebopTomorrow Studios, the production company behind U.S. TV drama Prison Break, made it known that they were working on an adaptation of the beloved anime classic over a year ago. However, there’s a long list of anime for which foreign, live-action versions were announced but never actually made. For a while it seemed like Bebop might become the latest member of that club, but Netflix tends to follow through on its new-series promises, and while it hasn’t put forth any time frame for when the planned 10-episode series will be available, its announcement seems to be a sign that it’s only a matter of time until live-action American Bebop becomes a reality.

But in contrast to the cheers that met the news that Netflix is bringing back Evangelion, anime fans online have been much less enthusiastic about the company trying its hand at remaking Bebop. Those who consider the already-existing TV series to be pretty much the perfect anime even managed to find animated sequences from the show that perfectly encapsulate their less-than-hopeful attitudes about Netflix being able to do Bebop justice.

Others decided to bring their misgivings into focus through written words, such as:

“Okay. 3, 2, 1… Let’s not.”
“How about no…”
“Literally nobody asked for this.”
“Please could you not? Thanks.”
“Please don’t do this bullshit.”
“Why must you hurt us?”

The almost universally abysmal track record for anime-to-live-action projects isn’t doing much to bolster confidence either, especially since we’re only about a year out from Netflix’s live-action version of anime/manga Death Note, which didn’t do much to please fans of the franchise (even if it apparently did draw in enough viewers for Netflix to greenlight a sequel).

“Can barely contain my excitement for another anime adaptation from the same people that funded Death Note live-action.”
“Because live-action anime [adaptations] have totally been commercially and critically successful, I’m sure everyone is just gonna LOVE this.”
“Of course; why bother with some old lame animation when everything’s waaaaay cooler in LIVE-ACTION?!”

If there’s one ray if hope for fans to latch onto, it’s that despite not being mentioned at all in Tomorrow Studios’ original announcement from last year, Watanabe is now said to be attached to the live-action Bebop in a “consulting” role, although that could mean anything from a hands-on role in the creative process to a largely ceremonial title given to the anime director in recognition of his giving his blessing to the live-action team to tinker with his creation as they see fit. Netflix has also said that the first episode of the series will be written by Chris Yost, who penned the second and third Thor movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

However, even with Watanabe on board in a nebulous capacity, there’s one other member of the original staff that fans are clamoring for Netflix to reach out to: composer Yoko Kanno.

“What about Yoko Kanno? She’s arguably the most important part of Bebop.”
“Who’s doing the score? If you don’t think that’s a question that needs answering this early, then you don’t get Cowboy BeBop.”
“Yoko Kanno must be involved!!”

▼ We will now save you the trouble of having to go search for the Cowboy Bebop opening theme, featuring an animated sequence so stylish it now has its own shoes.

It does seem somehow significant that despite Bebop having arguably the most internationally acclaimed soundtrack of any anime ever produced, Netflix’s teaser video is completely silent. If nothing else, that would seem to indicate that Netflix hasn’t yet commissioned someone to replace the existing score, and the lack of sound could even be because they’re still negotiating for the rights to use the iconic theme.

Given how badly so many anime-to-live-action projects have turned out, it’s not surprising that fans are feeling uneasy about Netflix tampering with their preferred slice of anime perfection. Even Seiji, the biggest anime otaku on our Japanese-language staff, is worried. “But all we can do now is pray that it comes out great,” he says, because it looks like the live-action Bebop is coming whether fans want it to or not.

Source: Twitter/@NXOnNetflix (1, 2, 3)
Top image: Twitter/@NXOnNetflix
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Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’s been an unknowing Yoko Kanno fan since playing Nobunaga’s Ambition for the NES.

[ Read in Japanese ]