Netflix has, once again, burned through another beloved anime in search of the perfect live-action adaptation. Cowboy Bebop, the streamer’s latest stab at making anime without animation, is no more. It has ceased to be. “See you, space cowboy.” Except you won’t.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the news comes less than one month after season one’s 10 episodes premiered to mostly negative reviews. Here at The A.V. Club, our own Sam Barsanti reviewed the series and said, “The show not a complete and irredeemable disaster, but it’s definitely not going to challenge anyone’s assumptions about live-action anime.”
Cowboy Bebop stars John Cho, and it’s a shame to watch things fall apart for him in particular. Many fans, both of anime and beyond, were thrilled that Netflix had cast an Asian actor for Spike Spiegel. In the past, particularly with 2017’s Death Note, the streamer opted for a color-blind casting approach. Not that that was the only problem with Adam Wingard’s film.
Live-action anime frequently runs into problems with whitewashing (see: 2009’s Dragon Ball: Evolution and 2017’s Ghost In The Shell). But with Cho’s casting and a stylish preview, fans of the original series were hopeful that, maybe, Netflix would finally get it right.
Alas, it appears Netflix couldn’t wait to cancel Bebop, which has been either derided or ignored since its release. Netflix’s Top 10 site says the show earned 74 million viewing hours in the three weeks since its debut, which undoubtedly makes one wonder how many hours are necessary for another season. 74 million feels like a lot of hours.
Still, the show was likely much, much more expensive than Tiger King 2, so with no one clamoring for another season, it makes sense that the show would get the ax.
Netflix will take another stab at live-action anime adaptations with One Piece, an even more expansive story than Bebop. For context, the One Piece manga has more than 1,000 chapters, while the anime has more than 900 episodes. Compared to the 26 original Cowboy Bebops, getting One Piece right should be a piece of cake.