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Cowboy Bebop Creator Shinichiro Watanabe Says He Couldn't Bear To Watch Netflix's Live-Action Version

When it comes to adapting properties to live action, few mediums seem to translate as poorly as anime does. From the universally panned "Dragon Ball Z" and "Death Note" films to Netflix's slew of divisive takes on the likes of "Fullmetal Alchemist" and "Bleach," it would appear that trying to bring anime and manga into live action comes with its own unique set of challenges.

While the streamer's version of "Alice in Borderland" has been generally well-received (via Rotten Tomatoes), unfortunately, Netflix's adaptation of the legendary anime hit "Cowboy Bebop" was largely seen as a miss. Despite the enthusiasm of star John Cho, who is a fan of the source material (via NBC), the live-action version of Spike Spiegel's intergalactic adventures just couldn't quite get things right.

To hear it from Shinichiro Watanabe, though, who directed every episode of the original "Cowboy Bebop," the series was a miss from its opening moments. The animation director, who also worked on "Samurai Champloo," explained that he could hardly stomach watching Netflix's version of his anime masterpiece.

Shinichiro Watanabe says he could barely get through the opening

Shinichiro Watanabe sat down with Forbes to talk about his widely respected body of work, and it wasn't long before the auteur was asked what he thought of Netflix's live-action adaptation of "Cowboy Bebop." Unfortunately for the cast and crew who worked on the series, Watanabe was not kind to their efforts.

"For the new Netflix live-action adaptation, they sent me a video to review and check," Watanabe recalled. "It started with a scene in a casino, which made it very tough for me to continue." There have to be few more foreboding hints that you've got it wrong than someone so closely aligned with the original work not even being able to get through the first 10 minutes.

"I stopped there and so only saw that opening scene," Watanabe continued. "It was clearly not 'Cowboy Bebop,' and I realized at that point that if I wasn't involved, it would not be 'Cowboy Bebop.'" While "Cowboy Bebop" was quickly canceled by Netflix after the 1st season dropped, it looks like the writing was on the wall for Watanabe from the moment he watched it.