Why the Cowboy Bebop Netflix series failed to meet expectations

They won't be seeing you around again, cowboy (Image via Netflix)
They won't be seeing you around again, cowboy (Image via Netflix)

With the sudden cancelation of the Cowboy Bebop Netflix series, fans have to wonder how it all fell apart.

Based on the famous anime of the same name, this live action version was announced back in 2017. It had a respectable cast that all played their parts well. After a few setbacks due to production delays, the Netflix series was finally released in November of 2021.

Less than a month later, the live action series was canceled. While Cowboy Bebop had strong viewership at the start, it was unable to retain them for very long. It's very likely that most viewers never got around to finishing the show. Here's a brief look at what went wrong with this adaptation.

Why did the Cowboy Bebop Netflix series fail to satisfy fans of the original?

Netflix's adaptation had some very big shoes to fill. The original anime is highly regarded as one of the greatest of its time. Sadly, the live action Cowboy Bebop never really stood much of a chance.

Note: This article contains spoilers from the live-action version and the anime.

Original fans were not pleased with the changes


For better and worse, television adaptations often make changes from the source material. In the case of the live action Cowboy Bebop, these changes were for the worse. Netflix made several unpopular decisions in regards to their adaptation.

The biggest change involves Julia shooting Spike near the end of the season. This is a complete diversion from the original anime series. More than a few Cowboy Bebop fans were unhappy with these radical departures. It redefines Spike's entire backstory involving Julia, reducing him to an idealistic fool.

Characters like Vicious and Mad Perriot are also far less menacing than the original. Their new personalities can be hard to take seriously at times. Faye's con artist lover was even changed into a motherly figure instead. Cowboy Bebop is a completely different series at this point.

What also didn't help was the awkward dialog


Simply put, the Netflix version of Cowboy Bebop is riddled with ridiculous dialog. Bad writing can be a major distraction at times. The live-action version had plenty of cringey scenes with awkward dialog.

Anime doesn't always translate to live action


Animation is restricted in movements due to budget reasons. This means that animators have to use a select amount of frames to match personality with physicality. That's why a character like Ed can get away with her over the top mannerisms, because it fits her genre.

A live action version of Ed simply cannot work for the reasons above. Cowboy Bebop would have to significantly tone her down. This was the one time Netflix would've been justifiable in making changes.

Instead, the directors put the actress in a very awkward position. The fault lies more with the directors, rather than the actress herself.

Sadly, it never lived up to the original

Cowboy Bebop is a beloved anime classic, yet the Netflix version failed to capture its spirit. Too many liberties were taken with the source material. As a result, it ended up driving away its audience.

Note: This article reflects the writer's personal views.

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Edited by Mason J. Schneider
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