‘Cowboy Bebop’ Anime Director Ditched Netflix’s Live-Action Show After One Scene

Netflix’s live-action take on the anime classic Cowboy Bebop was supposed to mark a glorious return to form for the streamer’s adaptation attempts, but the cancellation after one season and 10 episodes put all hopes to rest. As it turns out, nobody was more unsurprised than original anime director Shinichiro Watanabe.

Cowboy Bebop Director Ditches Netflix Live-Action
The opening frame of the casino scene, which seems to be what Watanabe is referring to.

In an interview with Forbes, the animator said he had shut off the remake after just one scene because it didn’t feel like the anime that he oversaw. “For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check,” Watanabe shared. “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.”

He continued, “It was clearly not Cowboy Bebop and I realised at that point that if I wasn’t involved, it would not be Cowboy Bebop. I felt that maybe I should have done this. Although the value of the original anime is somehow far higher now.”

Watanabe’s comment confirms that his involvement in the project was minimal, despite being named as consultant. The remake was led by John Cho and developed Christopher Yost, the former of whom expressed shock at the streamer’s choice to cut the series short when news first broke:

“I was very warmed by the response [to the show],” Cho said. “I wish I could have contacted everybody and gotten hugs. I’m mystified a little bit about how you can connect with people that you don’t know doing your work, but I won’t question it. I will value it and treasure it. I’m just really deeply appreciative that anyone would care. It’s stunning to me…It was very shocking and I was bummed.”

Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop was one of the more highly-anticipated live-action adaptations in recent times, but ultimately couldn’t live up to the hype. It earned strong ratings in its first week before declining sharply in the weeks after, with both critics and long-time fans highlighting its failure to capture the same charm and tone that made the original such a beloved work in the first place.