Looks like we won’t be seeing you, space cowboys.

Few Netflix series have gotten the level of pre-release hype and attention that the streaming giant’s live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop have. After years of rumors that Hollywood was going to try its hand at its own version of the iconic 1998 anime, Netflix announced it was going to make it happen in the fall of 2018. A string of injury and pandemic-related delays meant even more time for potential audiences to speculate and salivate over teasers and preview tidbits, and finally, last month on November 19, Netflix released the 10 episodes that make up the live-action Bebop’s first season.

There will not be a Season 2.

News of the series cancellation/non-continuation was broken by the Hollywood Reporter’s Javier Grillo-Marxuach, an executive producer on the Netflix Bebop, confirmed the report by retweeting it along with “i truly loved working on this. it came from a real and pure place of respect and affection. i wish we could make what we planned for a second season.”

Like every commercial entertainment entity, Netflix is in the business of producing content that will bring in profits, and cutting loose projects that end up in the red. As a subscription-based steaming service, the exact financial effects of a single series are hard to define, but according to the Hollywood Reporter, “the series has racked up almost 74 million viewing hours worldwide since its debut – so it got plenty of sampling out of the gate – but it plummeted 59 percent for the week of Nov. 29-Dec. 5.” Apparently those numbers weren’t good enough to make a second season worthwhile, in Netflix’s eyes.

▼ Pre-release trailer for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop

While the Netflix Bebop is far from the only live-action anime adaptation to fall far short of the standard for success set by its source material, it’s definitely one of the most high-profile. There’s already been a lot written by displeased viewers discussing how and why they felt it failed to live up to the anime’s legendary legacy, but perhaps another issue can be found in a later tweet by Grillo-Marxuach, in response to a message from actor Mason Alexander Park, who plays the live-action Gren.

The original Bebop anime may not have been created in the current anime environment of keeping a series alive for as long as possible, but even by 1998 there were plenty of franchises that tried to extended their relevancy and revenue streams with sequels, spinoffs, alternate continuities, and filler arcs to postpone their grand finale. From start to finish, though, the anime Bebop clearly feels like a series where everyone is putting all their creative cards on the table, and not holding anything back. Yes, there was a Bebop anime movie, but that came after the TV series ended, and in terms of narrative fits in the middle of the TV series’ events as a stand-alone story that doesn’t alter the tone or messages of the series as a whole.

The ideas the anime Bebop team used for its single season are the best ones they had. In terms of character and thematic arcs, it’s a one-and-done in the best possible way, and maybe that mentality, instead of hanging on to “cool shit” for a Season 2 that’s not going to come, could have helped Netflix’s Bebop find more fans than it ultimately did.

Source: Hollywood Reporter (1, 2) via Anime News Network/Rafael Antonio Pineda
Images: YouTube/Netflix
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