Cowboy Bebop anime director and creator creator Shinichiro Watanabe did not like the live-action Netflix version and could not watch past the first opening scene.

Shinichiro Watanabe has had a storied career in animation, as the director of Macross Plus, Cowboy Bebop, and Samurai Champloo, among many other projects. Forbes recently interviewed the influential creator for a profile, touching especially on Cowboy Bebop. Naturally, the conversation eventually turned to the live-action Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop, and creator Shinichiro Watanabe did not seem to like it: He stopped watching after the opening scene. In fact, he outright said that it could not really be described as being Cowboy Bebop.

“For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check,” he explained. “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. It was clearly not Cowboy Bebop and I realized 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.”

That last sentence is quite the indirect burn, isn’t it?

It’s illuminating to hear Shinichiro Watanabe basically say he had nothing to do with the live-action Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop, since the creator was credited as a consultant on the series. But on that same note, he had offered a disclaimer back in 2019, saying among other things, “I read the initial concept and provided my opinions, but I’m not sure if they will be reflected in the final product.” In any case, Sunrise owns the IP, so Watanabe has never had any legal ownership over the show.

Netflix canceled the show after one season, so it’s hard to claim that Watanabe is just resistant to change. Nonetheless, the show had some defenders. Did you watch more of the Netflix show than the Cowboy Bebop creator did?

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