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Cowboy Bebop Showrunner Explains How The Live-Action Netflix Series Relates To The Anime

There are a lot of questions that have to be answered anytime a studio is looking to adapt a beloved animated property into a live-action series or film. For instance, who are going to be the actors picked to portray some of these iconic characters? What storylines are going to be chosen? How are the directors, cinematographers, and special effects teams going to capture the distinct style of the animators in live-action? And perhaps most importantly, why remake something that works so well in its original form at all? 

André Nemec, showrunner of Netflix's upcoming "Cowboy Bebop" series, has an answer to this last one. Granted, it's not just "because someone thinks it will make them money" — which is always true on some level — but what he did tell Entertainment Weekly provides a nuanced look at what it means, as a creative, to take something that's been done before and try to capture its original magic, while also creating a little of your own.

How the new Cowboy Bebop series plans to "dig deeper"

Crucially, in the interview, there's no talk of improving upon the original "Cowboy Bebop" anime or even expanding its audience (though, again, the money people probably wouldn't mind that last one). André Nemec also acknowledges that Netflix's series isn't going to be a shot-for-shot remake of the original — so, there'll be no slavishly devoted retelling of the interstellar bounty hunter Spike Spiegel's story. Rather, it's going to take some of the concepts introduced there and explore them a little further, or spin them a little differently. 

It sounds like a healthy way for creatives, and fans, to look at adaptations in a market that's saturated with them.

"I believe we've done a really nice job of not violating the canon in any direction but merely offering some extra glimpses into the world that was already created," Nemec said to Entertainment Weekly. He added, "We got under the skin of who the live-action characters were going to be. I think that the poetic nature of the anime absolutely allowed for us to mine the archetypal nature of the characters and dig out deeper histories that we wanted to explore — and answer some of the questions that the anime leaves you with."

Why Cowboy Bebop's showrunner thinks there's room for more than one version

What André Nemec pointed out goes for the actors, too. For John Cho, the series' star, the anime was a reference point for building his character, from his iconic hair down to the way he walks, but he found it wasn't helpful to look back at the show for guidance on "What Would Spike Do in a given moment?," or anything like that.

"At some point you have to play the scenes that are written," Cho told EW. "You're in a scene, you're in episode 5, and you just have to play the circumstance and the character as you've built it." The live-action series has to exist on its own terms, ones borrowed and inspired by the source material, but not wholly indebted to it.

If fans of the original don't like those deeper histories or extra glimpses, or even Cho's hair, then Nemec says that's okay. ""I promise we will never take the original anime away from the purists. It will always exist out there [...] I think to just redo the anime will leave an audience hungry for something that they already saw. The anime did an amazing job. We don't need to serve the exact same meal. I think it would have been disappointing if we did."

"Cowboy Bebop" premieres on Netflix November 19.