After decades of rumors of a Hollywood movie version of the anime classic, there are now plans to bring the space cowboys to TV instead.
There are few greener evergreen hits in the world of Japanese animation than Cowboy Bebop. The 1997 TV series was steeped in anime stylishness, helmed by the confident hand of director Shinichiro Watanabe who was showing off, with aplomb, the full range of his skills after co-directing the hotly anticipated and highly satisfying direct-to-video Macross Plus. At the same time, Cowboy Bebop’s mature cast and mix of gritty action and dry humor made it eminently accessible to foreign audiences unaccustomed to the perky, earnest youths of other anime series.
By feeling at once both fresh yet approachable, Cowboy Bebop was an instant hit that made its impact felt beyond the still relatively small foreign anime fanbase of the late ‘90s. Its crossover appeal led it to become one of the first anime series to have a successful U.S. TV broadcast without significant edits or rewriting, and now it sounds like Cowboy Bebop is heading back to American TV, but this time as a live-action adaptation.
Tomorrow Studios, the production company whose most prominent member is producer Marty Adelstein, has announced that it will be creating a live-action Cowboy Bebop TV series. “We are excited to work with Sunrise in bringing this beloved anime to the U.S. and global marketplace as a live-action series,” said Adelstein, referencing the fact that Sunrise, the anime studio that produced the animated Cowboy Bebop, is also being credited as an executive producer on the project.
As a matter of fact, the live-action Cowboy Bebop is bristling with producers, with Josh Appelbaum,Becky Clements, Andre Nemec, Jeff Pinkner, Scott Rosenberg, and Matthew Weinberg also mentioned as filling such roles, along with Adelstein, who was an executive producer for Prison Break, Last Man Standing, and Teen Wolf TV series. Tapped as writer is Chris Yost, whose writing resume includes the second and third Thor movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as numerous episodes of Marvel and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoons.
It’s worth noting that Watanabe himself is conspicuously lacking from the list of so-far-announced contributors. Considering how much of the Cowboy Bebop anime’s success the series owes to its director’s signature style, his absence doesn’t bode well for fans hoping for a faithful recreation of the anime’s atmosphere,
While the live-action Cowboy Bebop is flush with producers, there are a few critical things it’s missing right now, such as a broadcaster or release date. Tomorrow Studios also announced it was working on a TV adaptation of Korean film/French comic Snowpiercer back in 2015, but has yet to air even a pilot for the project, so it may be some time before the Bebop crew shows up in live-action.
Follow Casey on Twitter, where all this talk of Shinichiro Watanabe has him wanting to rewatch Samurai Champloo.