Netflix’s adaptation of the anime classic Cowboy Bebop scarcely had time to breathe before it was overwhelmed by the cries of elitist weeaboos. They may not have been the majority, but the loudest voices on TikTok and Twitter triumphed. Netflix cancelled the series a mere 20 days after it premiered.
The Hollywood Reporter broke the news Dec. 9, “Cowboy Bebop Canceled by Netflix After One Season.” However, the show did earn some degree of popularity. It reached number one in the U.S. between Nov. 23 and 24 and remained in the top 10 with nearly 73,840,000 hours watched, according to What’s on Netflix. Despite this, angry so-called-fans spread hate and overshadowed the people who enjoyed the adaptation for what it was.
Headlines like “Netflix’s live-action Cowboy Bebop is over after one disappointing season” from Engadget didn’t help, only reinforcing an echo chamber insistent on despising the show. Even before the show aired, clowns were complaining that Faye Valentine’s outfit was not the same as the original.
It’s reasonable to have high expectations for an adaptation to one of the most popular anime of all time. But so many of the complaints came off as unreasonable. Many consistently pointed out that the show’s action varied from the fight scenes in the original—an insane nitpick given the limitations of the human body compared to what can be done in an animated medium. Fight choreographs will never look as fluid or visually satisfying. While the fight scenes could have been better, Cowboy Bebop isn’t a pure action series.
See You Space Cowboy
The original 1998 Cowboy Bebop is an all-time classic anime. It took a massive effort to resurrect the series, and it’s a shame the show is gone. The Netflix series is fun, filled with little details, expanded roles for two-dimensional characters, cheesy yet memorable dialogue and fascinating ships and planets. The adaptation also draws from the same sources. Spike Spiegel is based on an action-film star Yūsaku Matsuda, and there is a clear line from him to John Cho’s performance and costume.
Petty and spiteful comments from the internet should not have this much control. Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop may have some awkward dialogue, unflattering lighting and uncomfortable camera angles. Nonetheless, the show was fun and satisfying where it mattered. It is leagues above Netflix’s infamous Death Note live-action adaption but the internet would rather tear Cowboy Bebop apart for fun.
I’m thankful we got a solid attempt at expanding lore and plotlines that the original anime tripped over. Everyone involved in the production, especially the actors, did the best they could. One anime adaptation cannot make everyone happy, but Netflix proved it can get close. I hope to see more of the cowboys in the Bebop one day.
UPDATE: Keyboard warriors have also launched a petition to Keep Netflix Cowboy Bebop Canceled. In the ridiculous petition description, as reported by Bounding Into Comics, the show was ‘putrid,’ and “a thing that we never talk about. And just go and enjoy the anime version,” which is a cringe-worthy and gatekeeping take. There is a lot to unpack on the creator of the petition, and its 10,000+ clown following. I think it would be best not to give that circus more attention than it deserves.