Cowboy Bebop was at the forefront of the anime wave that stormed the world two decades ago. The classic animation from Japan tells the tale of a crew of space pirates belonging to the ship Bebop, and through an action-packed narrative, explores themes of existentialism, social apathy, and predeterminism. Netflix is bringing the show back as a live-action offering. Writer for the reboot, Javier Grillo-Marxuach, spoke to iO9 about the central rule he is following for the project along with co-writer Karl Taro Greenfeld.
"We ain't playing Bebop, Bebop is playing us,"
So it seems the Netflix reboot intends to treat the original anime with respect and the blueprint for the new series, rather than a passing afterthought, as was the case with the Hollywood adaptation of Dragonball. Grillo-Marxuach further goes on to explain that taking elements of the original anime and dressing them up in a new skin was never an option.
"You can't look at Cowboy Bebop and say, 'Well, it's just a take-off point. We're going to give them different hair and different clothing, and we're gonna call it something different. And it's just sort of gonna be a loose thing. If you're doing Cowboy Bebop, you're doing Cowboy Bebop. You know? It's kind of like doing Star Wars."
The creators behind the show are well-aware of the enormous Cowboy Bebop fanbase that will be scrutinizing every aspect of the reboot and how it measures up to the original, and they intend to rise to the challenge.
"We don't want the fans of the show to look at it and say that we failed them or we failed the original. You've got a show where you have 26 episodes that are full of very colorful villains, very colorful stories, very colorful adversaries, bounties, and all of that. We're not going to go one-to-one on all of those stories because we're also trying to tell the broader story of Spike Spiegel and the Syndicate, Spike Spiegel and Julia, Spike Spiegel and Vicious, and all that. But we are looking at the show and saying, 'Who are some of the great villains in this show, and how can we put them into this into this broader narrative?' So that we are telling both of the big stories that Cowboy Bebop tells."
As much as the reboot might try to adhere to the roots of the original, it is at the end of the day, a western product for a western audience. In response to the possibility of a white-washed narrative, Grillo-Marxuach, who is Puerto Rican, notes that Cowboy Bebop creator Shinichirō Watanabe is serving as a consultant on the show, and the writing team for season one includes Greenfeld and Vivian Lee-Durkin, both of whom are of Asian descent. Additionally, the titular characters will be played by actors of multicultural descent, including John Cho as Spike Spiegel, Mustafa Shakir playing Jet Black, Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, and Alex Hassell in the role of Vicious. This news originated at io9.