Leaving out the littlest bounty hunter is a big omission, and could signify a difference in tone between the anime and live-action version.

Back in the fall, Netflix announced that it will be producing a Cowboy Bebop drama, finally bringing to fruition a live-action, Western-made version of the landmark anime series. After years of false-starts and rumors regarding a possible Hollywood movie adaptation, just the fact that a live-action Bebop has been officially greenlit is a big enough deal in itself, and now Netflix has revealed its principal cast.

Starring as interplanetary bounty hunter/drifter Spike Spiegel is Korean-American actor John Cho.

▼ Cho’s sci-fi/anime credentials include playing Hikaru Sulu in the Star Trek reboot movies and voicing characters in the English dubs of Studio Ghibli’s The Tale of Princess Kaguya and Mamoru Hosoda’s Mirai.

▼ Spike, as he appears on the anime’s official website

Some may find it jarring to see Spike, a character with a German surname and wavy/curly hair, portrayed by a Korean actor, but the Cowboy Bebop anime repeatedly shows it’s setting to be one heavily influenced by Chinese culture, language, and cuisine, so perhaps Netflix feels that’s also indicative of a galaxy in which a large portion of the population would also have mixed Asian ancestry. The live-action series could also be taking the stance that a former mafia enforcer like Spike definitely wouldn’t be living under his real name after trying to cut ties to a violent criminal organization.

Meanwhile, playing the role of Spike’s partner in for-profit-crime fighting, Jet Black, is Mustafa Shakir.

▼ Shakir’s most recent 2-D-to-3-D acting experience is playing Bushmaster in the second season of Luke Cage

▼ Though he was a barber before his acting career took off, Shakir’s latest role will be that of a canonically bald man (or at least one with a shaved head, as anime Jet is only 36 years old).

Female lead femme fatale Faye Valentine will be portrayed by Daniella Pineda, whose highest profile credit is as dino veterinarian Zia Rodriguez in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

And finally, the last cast member to be announced is Alex Hassell, who’ll be stepping into the homicidal mind of Vicious, Spike’s former friend who becomes a deadly rival after Spike walks away from the mob bosses they served together.


Right about now, fans of the anime are probably wondering what’s happened to Ed, the largely androgynous hacker girl who’s usually billed as the fourth key character in Cowboy Bebop.

▼ No, I’m not typing out Ed’s full name.

It’s an odd omission, since even though anime Ed doesn’t join the cast until several episodes into the series (and checks out before the final one), she’s got a significant amount of screen time, and plays a key role in many of the group’s episodic adventures. While it could be that Netflix simply hasn’t cast the role yet, it’s also possible that Ed is being jettisoned entirely from the live-action series.

It’s unlikely that Netflix is planning to give its Cowboy Bebop the luxurious 26-episode run that the anime had, at least initially, which means some things have to be cut. The announcement tweet for Cho’s casting describes Spike as “Haunted by visions of the woman he loved and lost, Julia, Spike’s criminal past slowly catches up to him — putting him and the Bebop crew in the crosshairs of the solar system’s most lethal criminal organization, the Syndicate,” which suggests that Netflix plans to focus, story-wise, on the conflict between Spike and his former mafia associates. In that story arc, anime Ed was of limited importance, if any, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Netflix were to decide to shuffle all the stand-alone episodes where Ed plays a critical role, and so the character herself entirely, off to a potential Season 2 of the live-action Bebop.

Such a move probably wouldn’t sit well with old-school anime fans, but since Netflix still hasn’t said anything about when it plans to release the live-action Cowboy Bebop, there’s still hope for purists that she’ll get added to the crew at a later date.

Source: Twitter/@NXOnNetflix via Otakomu
Top image: Netflix
Insert images: Cowboy bebop official website
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