What I Want From Live Action Cowboy Bebop

A guy in Cowboy Bebop smokes a cigarette

It’s official: We’re getting live action Cowboy Bebop, and it’ll be debuting on Netflix as a 10-episode series.

How do I feel about it? Way better than around 2005 when I remembered hearing Keanu Reeves was attached to produce a live-action film and star as Spike. Netflix’s teaser, for one thing, ended with the classic “See you, space cowboy…” on the bottom right corner of the screen. I call that a good sign.

Original creator Shinichiro Watanabe is a consultant, which bodes well for style continuity. It also doesn’t hurt having Christopher Yost on board with this new Bebop (at least writing the first episode). Because I paid attention to comics for most of my life I can’t help but see a “Craig Kyle and” in front of his name; they co-wrote everything back in the day, from X-23 and X-Force to their cartoon episodes of Wolverine and the X-Men (which Jay and Myles X-Plains the X-Men says is the X-Men equivalent to Batman: The Animated Series). But Yost went off on his own and among other things wrote Thor: The Dark World and (the I-know-it’s-a-crime-I-haven’t-seen-it-yet) Thor: Ragnarok. He’s got a solid track record of creating great characters within beloved continuity and not screwing it up. That’s the kind of care Cowboy Bebop deserves, because Bebop is nothing without its characters.

What do I want to see from this new version of Cowboy Bebop?

Come up with new capers

Cowboy Bebop is an anime from 1998. It had 26 episodes total, plus a full-length movie a few years later by the same creators. Bounty hunters in space. It bent genres every episode. New Bebop can continue the tradition and not feel the need to look backwards.

There’s no need to rehash old stories in a live-action way when you can fit in new bounty hunts possibly even set between episodes of the original show. That’s all the movie Cowboy Bebop: Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door was: A long episode that happened sometime before Episode 25. The original show never contradicted itself but it also didn’t anchor itself in time terribly often either. It didn’t need to. It was cool like that.

I want to see new cooler than cool spy stories. I want to see how the crew reacts if they go to Jet’s childhood home and meet some of his relatives. I even want to see Faye talking her way out of a restaurant bill. It doesn’t matter to me what they do as long as they’re still themselves at their core and the scenes are packed with the perfect amount of style.

Bring in the OG voices

The original anime had an amazing English voice cast in a time when anime voiceover was often times still silly and annoying. Cowboy Bebop played it classy (except when it purposely didn’t) and it’s benefitted into a certain timelessness as the years go on.

I want the live action crew to hunt for the original English voice cast. In one episode, Steve Blum can be the bounty of the week. Next, Wendee Lee, then Beau Billingslea, then Melissa Fahn. At least give one or all of them cameos. That’s a way to nod to the legacy while giving the old school fans something to lose our minds over.


If there’s not a Corgi on that ship by the end of the fifth episode, I’m leaving. Plain and simple. It may all be about Spike, Jet, Faye and Ed, but showrunners have to be aware that Ein is a crew member, however non-speaking.

The same damn theme song

Look up its theme song, Tank! Thank me later.

New Yoko Kanno music

I will carve off my limbs to help make this happen. Yoko Kanno’s music is the 6th crew member. Without the incomparable blend of genres creating the vibe around each episode, it will not be the same. I don’t want it to be the same show as far as plots go, but I want the show to happen within the same universe. The sound of that universe is as essential to the vibe as the way the ships were designed, probably more so.

If Kanno decides to pass on the project, that’s one thing. I can live with that. But finding a proper replacement is a tall order so please for the love of god start by asking Kanno to work on this show.

So far, Netflix has the benefit of the doubt, but know I’ll be watching them like a hawk as it gets closer to go time. Before then, you’ll see more from me as I do a character series on the crew. I already wrote about the show once and was planning on writing more at some point anyway, but Netflix’s announcement cinches it. If the world is getting more Cowboy Bebop, let’s give them more Cowboy Bebop.

See you later, space cowboys and cowgirls…

Written by John Bernardy

John Bernardy has been writing for 25YL since before the site went public and he’s loved every minute. The show most important to him is Twin Peaks. He is husband to a damn fine woman, father to two fascinating individuals, and their pet thinks he’s a good dog walker.


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    • Bet it’s way too late for any of that. I’d be shocked if all 10 episodes aren’t in the can already. Glad you like my points though! I bet a lot of my concerns are well addressed by the producers by now anyway, but it feels good to voice everything all the same.

      • My son, who is in his 30’s now, introduced me to Cowboy Bebop back when he was in college. I appreciate all of the things you mention and truly hope they make the effort towards quality. Another one I’d like to see in live action is the series, “Big O”. I’m guessing you’ve seen that also?

        • Not much of it really. I’d catch it on Adult Swim but never regularly. Seemed interesting but never quite got its hooks in me.
          I honestly wish none of the anime had live action counterparts but if it has to happen I hope it tries to work with the anime rather than being a massive divergeance.

          • It was another one that my son introduced me to way back when. There were 2 seasons, but only the first one is good, per him. I’ve only seen the first season. It’s worth seeing if you can find it and don’t have to have constant commercial interruptions of network TV. It also has a great soundtrack.

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