The red flags continue to fly for Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop, as thanks to a recently resurfaced interview, original anime series creator Shinichirō Watanabe can be read confirming that his involvement in the upcoming live-action adaptation was so limited that all he can do is “pray and hope that it will turn out good.”
Watanabe broached the subject of his involvement in Netflix’s upcoming live-action adaptation during a 2019 interview with Japanese pop culture news outlet Otaquest co-founder Taku Takahashi, recently brought back to public attention courtesy of YouTuber Hero Hei, in which the two discussed the esteemed director’s past portfolio and his various upcoming projects.
In the course of the interview, Takahashi eventually turned to ask Watanabe about his level of involvement with the then-recently announced Blade Runner: Black Lotus animated series, which listed the director as a Creative Producer.
“The work on ‘Carole & Tuesday’ [his most recent directorial work] was too hectic and I am only loosely involved in the new ‘Blade Runner’ series (bitter smile),” Watanabe told Takahashi. “I provided my opinions on the early concept, but that’s about it. The directors are Kamiyama (Kenji) and Aramaki (Shinji), so I left my expectations with them.”
Takahashi then asked Watanabe if this arrangement was “the same with the live-action ‘Cowboy Bebop,’” to which he confirmed, “That’s right.”
“I read the initial concept and provided my opinions,” explained Watanabe. “But I’m not sure if they will be reflected in the final product.”
Following up on the director’s seeming lack of confidence in Netflix’s adaptation, Takahashi next inquired, “As the original creator, how would you feel if what you saw in the original scenario pitch and what was broadcasted differed?”
Watanabe replied, “That would leave a sour taste in my mouth.”
“However, for example,” Watanabe also reasoned, “When transitioning a manga to an anime, if the original author speaks out on various points, it makes the work for the anime staff and it won’t necessarily make it a good product.”
Concluding his thoughts on the adaptation, Watanabe asserted, “That’s why I have no choice but to pray and hope that it will turn out good (lol).”
“Also, for ‘Cowboy Bebop’ I don’t have any right to stop it,” he subsequently clarified. “Those rights are in the hands of Sunrise, so if you have a complaint, please send it to them (lol).”
In promotional material for Cowboy Bebop released by Netflix on August 23rd, Watanabe was listed as a “consultant on the series.” However, prior to the release of said materials, star John Cho admitted that the production team “did not communicate” with Watanabe at all.
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