Uh-oh. It seems that the Netflix live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop did not live up to its name. Cowboy Bebop creator, Shinichiro Watanabe, felt that the Netflix live adaptation of Cowboy Bebop is subpar in comparison to its anime version. This admission was made during an interview with Forbes.
Watanabe shared his passion when it comes to anime, notably mentioning that Japanese animation is better than Japanese live-action ones. He also cited Nausicaä, Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, and Macross: Do You Remember Love? that solidified his love for animated movies. Particularly, his favorite is Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer, which inspired him to become an anime director and creator.
In this regard, it is not at all surprising that Watanabe has a higher opinion of the Cowboy Bebop anime than the live-action adaptation one.
Watanabe elaborated that when the Netflix live-action series was sent to him, he could not bear to continue watching it. Even from the first scene at the casino, Watanabe felt that it was not Cowboy Bebop at all. It seems that Watanabe was not even involved with the filming, as he stated that he should have been part of it so that it becomes Cowboy Bebop.
Sadly, almost all of the audience who watched the live-action Cowboy Bebop seemed to share Watanabe’s sentiments. It only has 47% rating score on Rotten Tomatoes, and the reviews are mostly negative. The notable one is:
In its resolute ordinariness, the main value of this new “Bebop” would be to drive you back to watch the old one.Mike Hale, New York Times
Read More: 20 Anime With Best English Dubs
Cowboy Bebop Live Action Adaptation Background
Netflix produced and released the Cowboy Bebop live-action series last November 2021. It only has 1 season with 10 episodes. It was directed by Alex Garcia Lopez and Michael Katleman. Christopher L. Yost is credited for the creator of the live-action series.
John Cho played the main protagonist, Spike Spiegel. Mustafa Shakir portrayed Jet Black while Daniella Padilla was Faye Valentine.
Animation Being a Serious Medium
Interestingly, Watanabe’s views can actually bring a whole discussion: is anime or animation in general being taken seriously as a medium? Do animated films or series need a live-action adaptation to be taken seriously?
Particularly, Hollywood seemed to have a bias towards animated films and series. An article from the Movie Waffler explored this, in which animated media are often mistaken for kids’ entertainment. This is why they are not taken seriously, and they are often disregarded as ‘ineligible’ for Academy Awards.
There is also the discussion of whether or not animation is a genre or a medium. Labelling animation as a genre does not acknowledge that it can be an art form. It is a medium where it can tell stories that resonates with the heart and soul. It is a method of storytelling.
What do you think of this? Do you agree with Watanabe than animated films can be superior than live-action ones?