The adaptation for the very popular anime and manga Cowboy Bebop was met with mixed reactions. It garnered negative reactions from critics and many of the older fans. However, it seems there are enough viewers passionate about giving the show another season.
Will it be enough to save Cowboy Bebop from joining the likes of Firefly and Dollhouse? Read on for more.
Blasted out after one season
The Netflix Original live action adaptation of Cowboy Bebop premiered last November 19, 2021. Within the third week, Netflix officially announced its cancellation. According to reports, this was a response to the lackluster reviews it had received and the large decline in viewers after it debuted.
Older fans of the Cowboy Bebop series which aired on Cartoon Network felt the new live action version veered too far away from what made the original popular. For instance, the casting of John Cho, Mustafa Shakir, and Daniella Pineda for the roles of Spike Spiegel, Jet Black, and Faye Valentine, respectively, received mixed feedback.
In the case of Cho, some fans felt the actor was too old for the role. With regard to Faye Valentine, the look and style did not resonate, nor did making the character LGBTQ+, sit well with a vocal percentage of the fans. Other concerns that resulted in negative responses from critics and the fandom generally fall under the radical and unnecessary changes from the source material.
The news of the cancellation came as a shock to both the creative and production crew. After all, the show had only been on air for 3 weeks on the streaming platform. André Nemec and Naomi Markman, Cowboy Bebop’s showrunner and scripting coordinator, had already finished the plans and story for season 2. This is why the last episode ends on a cliffhanger with the arrival of Ed and setting up the hunt for Vincent Volaju. Clearly, there were expectations that the show would get at least a second season.
Mustafa Shakir, who played Jet Black on the show, shared an emotional Instagram post, thanking fans:
What a cool opportunity right?! I got to play Jet Black! I’ll never not be him..so to speak. That’s badass to me… but at the end of the day business is business and this was a big ship that needed a lot of fuel. Maybe the "haters" and the critics got us maybe it wasn’t as good as we thought… all I know is we got this done under the craziest conditions and I’m proud of what we did. Thank you for dreaming with us. See you space cowboys.
The actor would follow the heartfelt post with another that shared the updated look for Jet Black had a second season been greenlighted:
Meanwhile, John Cho’s reaction to the news that the show was cancelled after just one season was brief. It is just a meme featuring actor Tom Selleck saying "I’m okay":
— John Cho (@JohnTheCho) December 10, 2021
The tweet received supportive responses, especially from fans who appreciated the effort Cho put in. Cho had even suffered an injury during the course of its production, reflecting his commitment.
Thousands of fans are trying to save it
The cast and crew are not the only ones who are surprised of the sudden end of the show. Despite there is a clear divide between those who liked the live action Cowboy Bebop and those who did not, there is a strong following to give the series one more season, which lines up with the original anime having two seasons.
The petition was initiated by Ryan Proffer. His pitch for the reason for giving the show a second season reads:
For those people who want a second (or more) of the live action cowboy bebop. It wasn't a direct copy of the anime but the world they put together was amazing and deserve a second season.
The Cowboy Bebop live action fans mirrored this sentiment, many of which commented as to why the show deserves a second season to find its footing. As of the time of this writing, the Change.org petition is over 102,000.
Light at the end of the tunnel
Although fan petitions and social media movements are no guarantee, they should not be discounted either.
On the one hand, a passionate fandom for a property with a large following like the much-beloved Firefly sci-fi series from 2002 remain frustrated. On the other hand, there are properties like Lucifer which received new life from massive fan mobilization. Lucifer is a particularly key example, as it has been effectively saved by fans multiple times. The show starring Tom Ellis as the fallen archangel had 3 seasons on Fox, before fan petitions convinced Netflix to pick it up for an additional 3 seasons.
Could the fandom supporting the live action Cowboy Bebop pull off the same feat? It’s not impossible, but it might be a bigger challenge. Unlike Lucifer, Cowboy Bebop has a smaller gap between the positive and negative reactions. However, the fans supporting the continuation argue that the later episodes were showing promise with its different take on the characters and plot setup. But as of this time, Netflix has not given any official word on the possibility of giving the show another season after the announcement of cancellation.
But while Cowboy Bebop may have been retired after a single season, Netflix is pushing forward with other live action adaptations of fan-favorite animated series. Avatar: The Last Airbender, One Piece, and Yu Yu Hakusho are all in production and already have their casts set. So far, there is no indication that the sudden end of Cowboy Bebop has affected the plans for these projects.
You can still catch the first season of Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop on the streaming service.