“It was clearly not Cowboy Bebop.”

There have been a lot of anime-to-live-action projects in recent years, but none of them had the same level of anticipation as Cowboy Bebop. Rumors of a Hollywood live-action version of the eclectic sci-fi bounty hunter story had been floating around since the original anime was airing on American TV in the late 1990s, and so when Netflix announced that they were going to be the ones to finally do it, all eyes were on the streaming giant to see how they’d handle adapting one of the international anime fan community’s favorite series of all time.

But as preview photos and teaser trailers began being released in the runup to the Netflix Bebop’s premiere, a lot of people who had a lot of love for the original were less than impressed. And it turns out it wasn’t just pre-existing franchise fans who were disappointed, but Cowboy Bebop creator and anime director Shinichiro Watanabe too.

In a new interview with Forbes, Watanabe talks about his career path, his international success and recognition, and working with overseas entertainment producers. When asked how he felt about the live-action Netflix Bebop, he responded with:

“For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check. 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.”

▼ This appears to be the sequence Watanabe mentions (scene starts at 0:15)

Watanabe’s comment that he “stopped there and so only saw that opening scene” confirms that despite Netflix’ attempts to reassure fans by saying he was attached to the live-action Bebop in a “consulting” role as soon as the series was announced, the franchise’s original creator had essentially no involvement in the Netflix series. “I felt that maybe I should have done this,” Watanabe goes on, though it’s unclear if he was ever offered the opportunity to help the live-action version himself.

In the full interview, which can be found here, Watanabe also discusses his frustrations while working on segments of The Animatrix, the collection of short anime set in the world of The Matrix. Exasperated after a series of, to Watanabe, meaningless requests for changes from an American producer on the project, who described himself as “the gatekeeper to the Wachowskis and [said that] unless he could be convinced, he wouldn’t bring my work to them,” Watanabe said “when I went to Los Angeles for the recording sessions, I told the team that if I saw that producer I would just punch him in the face.” It’s a startling statement from a man who’s been quoted as saying “I don’t fight or drink or smoke, but I want to, and that’s why [Cowboy Bebop protagonist] Spike does,” but in the end the producer didn’t attend the recording sessions, so Watanabe never had to make good on his promised punch.

Watanabe’s sentiment that the Netflix Bebop failed to capture the tone and feeling that made the original such a success jives with how many long-time fans, including our resident otaku, felt. Still, in a similarity to the laid-back, play-it-cool attitude of the anime Bebop crew, Watanabe seems to have made his peace with the whole situation. “The value of the original anime is somehow far higher now,” he muses on the aftermath of the live-action version, and maybe that’s because it helped crystalize that the original’s exact mix of elements is what made it so special.

Source: Forbes via Anime News Network
Top image ©SoraNews24
● Want to hear about SoraNews24’s latest articles as soon as they’re published? Follow us on Facebook and Twitter!