Cowboy Bebop: Live-action release date, cast, plot and news
Get ready for a sci-fi western genre mash-up – and lots of introspective jazz...
Netflix is inching closer to the release date for its live-action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop, a new take on the anime epic.
The streaming giant’s decision to adapt the original series, which was a critical and commercial success when it debuted in the early 2000s, was risky given the long line of Hollywood live-action anime adaptations, from Dragonball Evolution to Ghost in the Shell, which yielded huge critical and box-office flops.
Like the original, the live-action Cowboy Bebop sees a crew of bounty hunters trawling through space aboard their ship known as the Bebop. Throughout the season, the trio of bounty hunters – Jet Black (Mustafa Shakir), Spike Spiegel (John Cho) and Faye Valentine (Daniella Pineda) – take on different missions across the galaxy and battle various criminals and villains.
Cowboy Bebop isn’t the only live-action adaptation that Netlix currently has under its belt, with the streaming giant recently announcing the cast of its upcoming adaptation of the popular manga and anime series, One Piece, featuring Iñaki Godoy as the protagonist Monkey D. Luffy.
Here’s everything you need to know about Cowboy Bebop, including its live-action release date, plot and all the latest news.
Cowboy Bebop live-action release date
Cowboy Bebop will be released on Netflix worldwide on Friday 19th November 2021.
The show was originally set to be released in 2020, but was delayed after star John Cho suffered a knee injury on set, which pushed production back by eight months. Filming eventually wrapped in March 2021.
Cowboy Bebop live-action cast
Netflix's Cowboy Bebop's cast will feature John Cho in the lead role of Spike Siegel, a bounty hunter from Mars and a former member of the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. Cho is best known for starring in the Harold and Kumar films opposite Kal Penn as well as playing Sulu in the Star Trek reboot. He grew his hair out long to replicate Spike's signature anime look.
Luke Cage's Mustafa Shakir is on board the Bebop also as Jet Black, an ex-policeman bounty hunter with a cybernetic arm. They'll both be joined by Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom actress Daniella Pineda as Faye Valentine, a woman in excessive debt after spending 54 years in suspended animation.
The Boys star Alex Hassell will be playing Spike's ex-partner and power-hungry gangster Vicious, while Revenge's Elena Satine portrays Julia, a mysterious woman who has had complicated romantic relationships with both Spike and Vicious.
Geoffrey Stults (Wedding Crashers), Tamara Tunie (Law and Order: Special Victims Unit) and Mason Alexander Park (The Sandman) will appear in recurring roles also.
Oh and most importantly, a Welsh corgi actor – and not a husky as previously rumoured – will be playing super-intelligent, chess-playing dog, Ein.
Cowboy Bebop live-action plot
Cowboy Bebop is based on the renowned anime series of the same name, which ran for 26 episodes between 1998 and 1999.
The series was a neo-noir space western that followed a ragtag group of bounty hunters who tracked down the galaxy's most dangerous criminals in exchange for money – known as Woolong – while trying to escape their own dark pasts.
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It's unclear how much the plot of the adaptation will differ from its source material, but first-look photos have shown the characters, costumes and sets to be mostly faithful to its anime roots.
The show's original director, Shinichirō Watanabe, is involved as a consultant, while Yoko Kanno will also be returning to score the series after her work on the anime was highly praised. So, it seems Netflix is trying hard to get this one right after facing criticism in the past for their previous live-action anime adaptations.
However, this does not mean the show will be an episode-for-episode remake as co-writer and executive producer Javier Grillo-Marxuach told Gizmodo.
“We’re not going to go one-to-one on all of those stories because we’re also trying to tell the broader story of Spike Spiegel and the Syndicate, Spike Spiegel and Julia, Spike Spiegel and Vicious, and all that," Grillo-Marxuach said. "But we are looking at the show and saying, ‘Who are some of the great villains in this show, and how can we put them into this broader narrative?’ So that we are telling both of the big stories that Cowboy Bebop tells.”
The original anime ran for only 22 minutes an episode and used a villain-of-the-week formula, so it seems that Netflix's ten-part series of hour-long episodes will opt for a more serialised approach – with fan-favourite enemies included, however.
A few elements will be changed for a modern audience though. The show's famously over-the-top smoking will be toned down, while Faye's revealing outfit has been scrapped in favour of a more practical getup. Jazz musician Gren has also been reimagined as non-binary for a more modern depiction of gender representation onscreen, with the role is also played by non-binary actor Mason Alexander Park.
Cowboy Bebop will be released on 19th November 2021. Looking for something else to watch? Check out the best series on Netflix or the best movies on Netflix. You can also plan your viewing with our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Sci-fi and Fantasy hub for the latest news.