Following the news of a live-action Cowboy Bebop series last June, the word is out as Netflix just announced its acquisition via press release late Tuesday. Netflix will handle physical production and co-produce with Marty Adelstein’s shared Tomorrow Studios shingle with ITV Studios’.
Based on Kuga Cain’s Kadokawa Shoten manga and Watanabe Shinichiro’s hit anime series from Sunrise Inc., Cowboy Bebop is the jazz-inspired, genre-bending story of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, Faye Valentine and Radical Ed: a rag-tag crew of bounty hunters on the run from their pasts as they hunt down the solar system’s most dangerous criminals. They’ll even save the world…for the right price.
Watanabe himself is serving as a consultant on the ten-episode space saga, the first of which screenwriter Christopher Yost (Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok) will put to pen.
Yost is also exec producing next to Andre Nemec, Josh Appelbaum, Jeff Pinkner and Scott Rosenberg of Midnight Radio, and Adelstein and Becky Clements of Tomorrow Studios (Snowpiercer, Good Behavior), as will Miyakawa Yasuo Miyakawa, Ozaki Masayuki, and Sasaki Shin of Sunrise Inc., Fujimura Tetsu and Matthew Weinberg.
The news comes on the heels of the anime’s 20th anniversary since its TV Tokyo Broadcast in 1998. A decade later, rumors of a live-action film circled the web and by 2013, Watanabe confirmed during an MCM London Comic-Con interview with Red Carpet News that a live-action project was in the works. A year later at MCM however, according to Watanabe, things were still uncertain.
“I’m afraid I don’t know what they’re thinking in Hollywood.” said Watanabe in 2014. “Apparently the project hasn’t come to a stop, but I don’t know how they’re going to progress from here. I hear there are a lot of Hollywood problems.”
Following a back-and-forth on some of the creative aspects of the end of anime’s ending, when asked about future hopes for Cowboy Bebop in TV or film, Watanabe remained skeptic. “As I always say, I have no plans to do so at the moment.” he said. “If I were ever to make anymore Cowboy Bebop, it would be because I thought I could do better after that. If I feel that way, I might make more, but I don’t know when that would happen.”
Cowboy Bebop is one of many live action anime/manga renditions in the works of late among production houses based on anime properties. Among the lot is a live-action series adaptation of Kawahara Reki’s hit manga, Sword Art Online from screenwriter and exec producer Laeta Kalogridis at Skydance TV as of 2016.
On the film front, Ron Howard is expected to produce an adaptation of superhero anime, Tiger & Bunny, while Legendary is in the works for its own Gundam film, Lionsgate attempts to shadow clone jutsu a live-action iteration of Naruto, and Warner Bros. tries to hold the fort with the post-production and development of Andy Muschiett’s Attack On Titan.
Production is currently underway in Japan with Shochiku’s forthcoming Tokyo Ghoul sequel starring Kubota Masataka. In February, actress Rosa Salazar will take center stage in Robert Rodriguez’s Alita: Battle Angel, from 20th Century Fox.
It’s also been a big year for anime at Netflix as well with the latest on the way listing Ultraman for an April 1 animated film release, and Anno Hideaki’s hit animated Neon Genesis Evangelion series and two animated films.