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Get Ready for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop Live Action, Streaming from November 19

With so many live-action anime remakes, could this one satisfy the cult anime fans?

Arielle Busetto

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Screenshot of the "Lost Session" Official Teaser on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_JDWm1f6-M0&ab_channel=Netflix.

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For anime fans, the series Cowboy Bebop (1998) is a cult classic and a must to see.

A pastiche of different genres that range from sci-fi to noir, to cowboy western, the story follows bounty hunters Spike Spiegel, Faye Valentine and Jet Black as they whizz around the universe on their spaceship Bebop.

Netflix is bringing a modern twist to this classic, with a live action series in ten episodes, played by John Cho as Spike, Daniella Pineda as Faye and Mustafa Shakir as Jet.

A month ago, Netflix released an official teaser for the series, “Lost Session,” which with its boisterous tone, colorful editing, retro look and humorous exchanges, gave fans fuel to be optimistic about what was to come.

The official trailer released a week later gave fans further material to get into the mood ahead of the live action series.

Will the teasers help? Netflix may be trying to change expectations on this one. Some live-action adaptations of anime in the past have received scathing reviews, with Ghost in the Shell (2017), and Death Note (2017) coming to mind, for example.

The Cowboy Bebop live action has the same premise of the anime, and aficionados will also recognize the appearance of other characters such as the Corgi dog Ein, references to Spike’s old flame, and the major antagonist in the story, Vicious. 

The style is also a clear tribute to the original anime, with unmissable music by composer Yoko Kanno and the cult song Tank by the Seatbelts, as well as the same font as the closing image from the original series.

Notably missing from all preliminary promotional material is Radical Edward, the hacker prodigy protagonist.

But showrunner Alex Nemec told Polygon that “Ed — everybody wants to know about Ed!”, “People will be … very delighted when they watch the season.”

Some reviews are already out there, including that of Polygon, Cnet, and IGN. What seems to be emerging is that the live action goes in a slightly different direction from the anime, while exploring different aspects of the characters’ stories and personalities.

Will fans think that the series is worth the hype? Those wanting to find out more can just buckle up and prepare to take a spin in the universe on the Bebop spaceship! (I’ll get the popcorn).

The original series was directed by Shinichiro Watanabe, and notable creators include screenwriter Keiko Nobumoto -who also wrote the script for Wolf’s Rain (2003) and co-authored the script for Tokyo Godfathers (2003)- and star composer Yoko Kanno. The anime series became a classic, praised for its English dubbing, and became known as one of the best anime of all time.

Author: Arielle Busetto

Arielle Busetto is full-time reporter at JAPAN Forward, covering culture, technology, politics, health, among other things. Major assignments in the past included the national elections in Japan, the G20 in Osaka in 2019, COP26 in Glasgow, gathering experience on a range of media including podcasts, video and more.